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Stimulating Your Baby's Senses: Sight

Stimulating Your Baby's Senses: Sight

Eyesight develops rapidly in the first year of life. Newborn eyes are physically able to see just fine, but things are fuzzy at first because the brain isn't ready to take in so much visual information.

Find out how the eyes contribute to baby development as your baby is able to process more visual details about his or her world with each passing month. Plus: See our tips for supporting and stimulating your little one's evolving ability to see.

Face-to-face

Babies can see as soon as they're born – but they don't see like we do. Newborns can see bright colors, large shapes, and faces (if they're close enough!).

In her first month, your baby can focus no farther than about 8 to 12 inches away – just far enough to make out your face when you're holding her. She might not be able to really look at you at first, but as she starts having more time awake during the day, her improving eyesight allows her to zero in.

At that point your face is the most fascinating thing in her world. Cuddle her close so she can get a good look.

Create a contrast

At 1 month, your baby sees in color but can't see subtle changes of color or tell the difference between colors such as red and green. Babies this age enjoy looking at simple, high-contrast patterns, such as those on black-and-white toys and mobiles.

Eye contact

Your baby will love engaging with you as he grows. Don't be shy – it's your job to sing, smile at, and talk to your little one. Looking into each other's eyes can help create an emotional connection between the two of you.  

This is also study hall for him: Watching your changing facial features and expressions teaches him about human emotion and how to interpret it on the faces of others.

Primary colors

By 3 to 4 months of age, most babies have emerged from those blurry early days when large objects were all they could see at any distance.

Your baby can probably focus on smaller items and enjoy shapes and more complex patterns. She can distinguish colors much more easily, but primary colors are most appealing. By 4 months her eyes are working together, too, and she's starting to work on depth perception.

She may now pay attention to that colorful mobile in the nursery – a great stimulus for visual development. Reaching for the exciting things she sees helps her work on her budding eye-hand coordination.

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