Newborn babies can see up to 12 inches away, which is usually just about to the face of anyone holding baby. Beyond that, a newborn can detect shapes, light, and movement. Babies are drawn to high contrast patterns and faces at this stage because nearly everything else is a blur. Many newborns struggle to use their eyes in tandem, so they may even appear crosseyed or to have a wandering eye at times.
By this stage, babies have improved their ability to use both eyes together, somewhat. At the first month marker, many babies can now focus both eyes on a moving object to track it. A baby will likely still prefer high-contrast patterns at this stage, but is developing a more nuanced sense of color.
At two months, babies’ brains begin working to learn how to distinguish colors and they may now focus on bright, primary colors and more intricate designs. Babies also begin to develop more advanced abilities to track objects and distinguishing various tones in color.
A baby will begin distinguishing size and shapes of objects, as well as their position in the world. As your baby’s eyes and brain work together to solidify their sense of objects and their proximity, they will begin getting the message to grab ahold of objects in front of their faces. They may still lack to the motor development to truly coordinate this task, but a baby’s skills will improve very quickly with practice.
Babies have begin developing object permanence at this stage, and their ability to track small objects is much improved. A baby can also distinguish between bold, primary colors at this point, and may begin developing a preference for lighter, pastel shades.
At this point, your baby has developed vision very similar to an adult in depth and clarity, but their brains need more time to learn how to process what it is they are actually seeing and their motor skills need lots of fine-tuning. At eight months, the color of a baby’s eyes have also liked reached their final color.
Healthy Vision for Infants
Sources: American Optometric Association, American Academy of Ophthalmology