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Your infant’s eyesight, much like the rest of them, is still a work in progress. A newborn’s vision is blurry, and they tend to see things best from about 10 inches away, which just happens to be around the distance from their own eyes to a mother’s face when nursing.

For the longest time, doctors thought that newborns were practically blind and paid no attention to their surroundings, since doctors would flip their fingers in front of a baby’s eyes without them flinching or even causing so much as a blink. So when parents insisted that their babies looked into their eyes, such claims were dismissed as wishful thinking.

It turns out that both parents and doctors were right: Though young infants do ignore much of what is in their field of vision, they have a special predilection toward faces. So whereas they could care less about snapping fingers, they do perk up whenever something that looks like a face is in front of them.

Newborns differentiate between light and dark and various shapes and designs very early. Within a few weeks of birth they turn their heads to follow bright objects with their eyes. (Babcock & Keepers, 1976) In addition to their affinity for faces, babies find high-contrast patterns fascinating – one of the reasons for all the bright stripes and patterns on baby mobiles and toys.

Normal vision development in infants

At one month, a typical baby can see clearly for only about a foot or two. This will rapidly change, so that by four months, he or she may be watching you from across the room or enjoy gazing out a window. (Greene, 2009) Here’s a typical timeline:

  • At 2 months he can keep a steady gaze on moving objects such as a mobile.

  • By 3 months your baby can focus on objects up to 10 feet away.

  • By 4 months hand-eye coordination starts to develop and your baby will eagerly start grasping at things.

  • By 6 months your little one is mastering the art of depth perception.

  • By your baby’s first birthday, their vision is on par with that of an adult.

Will sunlight hurt my baby’s eyes?
No. Newborns are not bothered by sunlight any more than you are. However, because of their sensitive skin, it’s recommended you avoid direct sun exposure except in limited doses.

My baby sometimes goes cross-eyed. Is this normal?
Yes. Occasional cross-eyes are normal for babies and typically go away by about 4 months of age.

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