Infant Eye Development: Peek-a-Boo...I SEE You!

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Infant eye development throughout the first year is dramatic. From a color blind newborn to a hand-eye coordination expert, your infant will constantly surprise you with what he can see and do.

Newborn Eyesight

In the past, people used to think that babies were born virtually blind. Today we know that this is not the case. In fact, according to the Sloan Kettering Institute, newborns have the visual acuity of about 20/120 – which means that they would be able to read the big “E” on a typical vision chart. At birth, a newborn can only see about 8-12 inches in front of her, which is the perfect distance for them to see your face when you hold her in your arms. You’ll actually see your newborn start to focus on your face within a week or two after birth. Keep in mind, however, that newborns are virtually color blind and can only see the world in black, white, and some distinct shades of grey.

Eyesight at Three Months

At three months of age, your baby should now be able to see all colors of the spectrum. Up until this point, you may have noticed your newborn’s eyes crossing. This is normal because of your baby’s week eye muscles, but the eye muscles should be strong enough to coordinate eye movement by 3-5 months of age. In fact, at this point, your baby will probably be able to move his eyes to follow a moving light. Your baby’s eyesight is nearing 20/60, but he still cannot focus as well as an adult. Soon, your baby will be able to recognize your face and distinguish it from the faces of others.

Eyesight at Six Months

A baby’s primary objective at this point is to strengthen her hand-eye coordination. You’ll see your baby start to reach for objects that are waved in front of her, and she’ll begin focusing on objects far away from her – even across the room. In fact, at 6 months your baby’s eyesight is probably around 20/20, which is the optimal level for adult eyesight.

Eyesight at Twelve Months

At this point, your child is more easily able to remember things that he sees. He is struggling to make the connection between sight and memory, and you’ll see him playing the same games over and over again. You’ll want to encourage this play, and point out aspects of it that stay the same from day to day.

Your infant’s eye development changes drastically during the first year of life. Understanding these developmental changes is important to challenging your child as she moves from stage to stage.


This post is part of the series: Infant Development - The First Year

Should your infant be sitting yet? Speaking her first word? Responding to her name? This series will clarify your infant’s development - physical, social, and emotional. Includes milestones for the first year.

  1. Social Development: Your Infant’s Social Skills
  2. Infant Development: Eyesight
  3. Infant Motor Skills Development - Newborn to Six Months
  4. Infant Motor Skills Development - Six Months to One Year
  5. Your Baby’s Brain Growth and Development