What your baby can see

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Newborns: Vision is the one sense that babies have no experience of before birth. When they are born, their vision is blurry. They can see light and dark, and follow a slow-moving object with their eyes. They can recognise the shape of their mummy’s head but not the facial features. At one month, they blink when something is coming towards their face.

Two months old: Research has shown that at two months babies can differentiate shades of white, which is something adults struggle to do. It’s not, however, true that babies can see only in black and white. They can see colours – the stronger, more saturated the better. They are not attracted to pastels, which is why high-contrast books are ideal for young infants, especially with strong patterns. They can see more clearly 20 cm from their face, and begin to focus on facial features.

Four months old: Their blurry world is coming into sharper focus. They prefer to look at whatever they can see well – movement, patterns, high-contrasting colours and familiar faces, as they start to make sense of world.

Six months old: Between six months and a year, most babies can see as well as an adult.

Since an infant’s vision is still developing, choose books with little or no text and big, high-contrast pictures. Also consider books with interactive stuff, such as puppets, mirrors, or peepholes, recommends Pamela High, MD, author of the Brown University reading study and a professor of pediatrics.

Melissa Balmain, Parents Magazine 2002

Your baby’s eyes and vision should be checked by your health visitor or doctor within the first week of birth and at 6–8 weeks old. If you have any concerns after that, do speak to your health visitor or your G.P. Eye problems in early childhood are rare, but the sooner they are treated, the better the outcome for your child.

Sources:

Life-Span Human Development: Assessing Perceptual Abilities by Carol Sigelman and Elizabeth Rider
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170109113812.htm
http://www.nhs.uk

Tummy Time publishes January 2021, £5.99

At Mama Makes Books, we looked at the science and developed Tummy Time! – a book to keep babies’ attention, especially during tummy time. It is a fold-out book that you can stand up in front of your baby when they are lying on their tummy. It has high contrast images on one side for the early months, and photos of babies’s faces on the other. There’s a mirror, too, so babies can look at themselves. It can also be read like a book, with simple engaging text so they can listen to your voice and try to distinguish language and meaning. Hopefully you will enjoy it too as you interact and play with your baby.

Watch this video produced by Ladybird Books to see books through babies’ eyes.