The first time your newborn opens its eyes and makes eye contact with you is one of the most beautiful moments. With the help of their senses, the child discovers the world and learns the fundamental skills that will allow for proper development.
An infant's vision improves rapidly during the first year of life. At first, intense light can be bothersome, so they tend to close their eyes for protection. This explains why a newborn opens its eyes more when in semi-darkness. Their pupils also remain very small to limit the amount of light that enters their eyes. It takes between 1 and 2 months for the baby's eyes to work together, and squinting is normal for up to 2 months. The ability to merge the images formed by each eye into a single image will not be at its peak until about 7 years of age.
A newborn can see objects up to 75 cm away, but they will appear blurry. However, they can see what is at a distance of 20 to 30 cm. Before the age of 2 months, the baby sees mainly the outline of objects. Over the few weeks, after they are born, they acquire the ability to scan an image with their eyes. The baby can then discern the overall appearance of things, patterns, reliefs, bright colours, etc. They can also focus well at this age, and people's faces are of great interest to them. They look for people's gazes in front of them.
At birth, the cells of the eye that detect colours (the cones) are active, but they are not yet fully mature, especially in the central region of the eye. This is because the baby was immersed in darkness until it came into the world. These cells will develop with exposure to light from birth. At birth, the infant distinguishes between shades of brightness and hue (light and dark). They can also differentiate between red, yellow and green, but only if these colours have good contrast.
At around 3 months, the child perceives several basic colours, the first ones acquired being red and green. At about 5 months, they can distinguish as many colours as an adult because the cones of the center of the eye reach adequate length.
The stages of vision development from 0 to 12 months
0 to 3 months
- The newborn can fix and follow an object with its eyes if it is close to its face.
- They squint intermittently, alternately with both eyes. This is normal for the first 2 months.
- Around 2 months, the baby recognizes their parent's face and at 3 months, they perceive more details, such as patterns, as they become better at scanning a picture. They also like to look closely at their hands and sometimes stare into the distance.
- They recognize familiar objects.
4 to 6 months
- They can distinguish relief better.
- They like to observe their environment and turns their head to see better. They are already distinguishing facial expressions (joy, fear, etc.).
They see all colours well, but the red, blue and yellow shades attract their attention.
- The coordination between the two eyes is improving.
- They alternate their gaze to things near and far.
- They can recognize a partially visible object.
- Around the 6th month, they see small objects well, such as bread crumbs.
- They can carefully examine an object in their hands.
- Around 6 or 7 months, they begin to perceive distances.
6 to 12 months
- The two eyes work well together, facilitating the perception of the 3rd dimension.
- Can locate a small object close to them.
- They search for hidden objects.
- Can distinguish between known and unknown people.
Did you know?
Eye exams are covered until the age of 17. Make an appointment for your child today.