infant vision

Remember those first couple of days after your baby is born, when you hold him or her close to your chest and gaze lovingly down into their eyes? Did you ever wonder (like I did) what exactly your baby was capable of seeing?

After a little bit of research, and finding some rather conflicting accounts, I managed to come up with a few answers that were relatively consistent among sources.

Newborn babies prefer to look at:

* Things that are moving
* Outer edges and/or contours
* Patterns, particularly those that are slightly complex


* Symmetrical patterns
* Anything resembling the human face
* Patterns involving curves.

Did you know?

· The preference for human faces is quite strong among babies, but the areas of the face they prefer to look at changes with age. For example:

– 1-month-old babies tend to look at the outer edges of the face, like the chin and hairline.

– 2 month olds tend to focus instead on the eyes and the mouth, which is something that helps them develop facial recognition of the common people around them.

· Newborns visual acuity begins at around 20/150 – 10/600 and they do not reach full 20/20 vision until they are between the ages of 6 and 12 months.

Can babies see in colour?

The answer to this one I am afraid is pretty unclear, and results of the different studies I have read are at best conflicting, but some commonalities that are generally agreed upon are as follows:

· The photo pigments in the eye that we need for colour vision are usually present in babies at around 3 months.


· Colour vision is fairly mature and in place by around 6 months.

Depth perception?

Again, there is some disparity in when researchers believe that babies have the ability to perceive depth. Some research suggests the age of six months, where others think perhaps as early as one month. A study done in 1999 by Bornstein and Arterberry suggests that babies don’t use picture like cues on their own as a way of judging depth until they are around 7 months old.

Psychologists generally agree though (from what I have read) that by around 3-4 months, babies using the difference between the images that are projected on their different eyes.

If you are in South Australia, a good place to go for infant info (if you don’t have ready access to developmental books) is the Child and Youth Health website.

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