What Does Your Baby See?

by Emily Lapkin

Infants aren’t born walking and talking, so it should come as no surprise that they aren’t born seeing perfectly, either. So what does baby see? Here’s the typical timeline that vision development follows:



“Many times, vision problems are not obvious to parents and caregivers,” says Glen Steele, O.D., optometrist and professor at the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tenn. For that reason, the American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends that parents take their children for a baseline eye exam between 6 and 12 months.

Free exams are available through the InfantSEE program, a public health effort from the AOA and Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Inc. (Visit the InfantSEE website to find an optometrist near you who offers this service.) Signs of a potential problem include tearing, not making eye contact, and missing social/emotional milestones (even though these are seemingly unrelated to vision.)

According to Steele, there’s a lot parents can do to stimulate their baby’s healthy vision development. His suggestions:

  1. Gaze into baby’s eyes.
    Whenever your baby is awake and alert, get close to baby, look her in the eye and make sure she’s looking back. (“Try not to text or read or do other things when you’re feeding baby,” says Steele. It’s a great time for eye contact.)
  2. Choose high-contrast toys.
    Objects that are black-and-white or bright primary colors – and not pastels – are best to boost baby’s vision in the first six months.
  3. Give baby tons of tummy time.
    Tummy time not only helps develop baby’s neck and shoulder muscles, but also gives her a chance to visually explore her world.
  4. Make sure baby gets balanced nutrition.
    Breastfeed your baby, or look for formulas that offer the same vision-supporting nutrients found in breastmilk, including DHA and lutein.

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/MaxkateUSA

Emily Lapkin is a writer, editor and Web content specialist who has covered health and parenting topics for nearly two decades. She previously managed the health and wellness channels of iVillage.com and was editor in chief of BabyZone.com. Lapkin is the mom of two young daughters.