Infants are not born with complete vision. As babies grow, good vision is developed through a learned process of looking, touching and exploring.
Parents can play an important role in helping to ensure that their baby learns to see well.
Eye Examinations for Babies
A baby should have his or her first visual exam at 6 months of age or sooner if a problem is evident. If you notice your baby’s eyes turning outward or inward (lasting more than a few seconds) or any other signs of eye problems, locate an Optometrist who is experienced in comprehensive exams for infants.
How to Help Your Baby’s Visual Development
1 month – Hold and feed your infant from alternating sides to promote adequate visual development of both eyes. Place your baby in his or her crib from different directions. Also, periodically change the location of the crib so the infant can see the world from different viewpoints. Hang a mobile off to the side so your baby can see it through the slats of the crib. Change the position of the mobile every other day.
2 months – Allow your baby to explore with his or her hands. Provide stimuli of many different textures, sizes, weights, and forms. Place a lightweight rattle in your baby’s hands and help him or her shake it.
4 months – Allow your baby to help hold the nursing bottle, and provide clean, smooth objects that can be explored with mouth and hands. Start to play the “patty cake” game.
6 months – Play “peek-a-boo” to develop visual memory. Move the crib mobile closer to your baby so it can be reached and hit to make it move. Tie bells on booties so the infant can learn about his or her body through sound and movement.
Take your baby in for his or her first vision examination.
8 months – Talk to your baby frequently so he or she can associate experiences with words. Place objects on a highchair tray that can be pushed off and dropped to the floor.
10-12 months – Do not rush your baby into walking. Creeping on all fours is very important for developing coordination of the body, as well as the two eyes.
Baby’s Milestones for Visual and Motor Development
A baby’s failure to see well can affect his or her entire development. Look for these milestones in your infant’s visual and motor development.
Does your baby:
- Follow an object with his or her eyes by 5 weeks?
- Bring his or her hands together by 8 weeks?
- Hold and sustain direct eye contact with you by 3 months?
- Turn his or her eyes together to locate near objects by 4 months?
- Make the sounds p, b, t, d, and m by 5 months?
- Roll over independently by 7 months?
- Sit without support by 8 months?
- Creep and crawl by 9 months?
Seek professional help if you notice a delay in any of the developmental milestones listed above. The sooner any vision problems are detected and treated, the more likely the problem can be fully corrected. In general, babies and children do not outgrow visual problems.