What is the Process of an Infant’s Vision Development?

infant-vision-developmentFrom the moment of birth, your newborn begins absorbing the sights and sounds of his world. Though it will take some time for your baby’s visual acuity to reach that of an adult, a surprising amount of that progress occurs during the first 8 months of life. As a parent, you want to do all you can to ensure the development of healthy vision in your child and San Francisco pediatricians Julia Getzelman, MD and Nicole Glynn, MD are here to help.

Growing Up Fast

Your child’s eyes adapt quickly, with major milestones typically reached every few months. Though every child is unique and has a slightly different pace compared to others, here are the major stages in the development of your infant’s vision:

  • Birth to 4 months: Prior to about 3 months, your baby’s eyes won’t focus on objects more than 10-15 inches from her face. From birth, however, babies can generally make out the general features of your face while held in your arms. During this early stage of development, your child’s eyes may appear to wander or cross – this is normal. With time, you will notice your child begin to visually track people and objects and, as hand-eye coordination improves, start to reach for things nearby.
  • 5 to 8 months: Two major elements of sight typically manifest during this stage – depth perception and the ability to distinguish colors. Generally around 5 months, an infant has developed these abilities in a significant way, though they will continue to improve with time. It’s worth mentioning that crawling, which generally begins at around 8 months, is a key component of hand-eye-foot-body coordination, and some believe that children who skip crawling may not learn to use their eyes together as well as those who spend more time crawling.
  • 9 to 12 months: During his stage, hand-eye coordination enables baby to pull up to a standing position, grasp objects between the thumb and forefinger, judge distance reasonably well, and even throw objects with some accuracy.
  • One to two years: Hand-eye coordination and depth perception are generally well developed by this stage. Your child will be very interested in exploring his environment, have the ability to recognize familiar objects, books and pictures, and use crayons or pencils to scribble and “draw.”

How You Can Help

Like so many other aspects of your child’s growth, you can take an active role in promoting the development of healthy vision. Following these general guidelines can help:

  • Watching for signs of problems with the eyes such as excessive tearing, extreme light sensitivity, or not making eye contact after 3 months of life.
  • Engaging with your child by daily reading beginning in early infancy, pointing out aspects of and “narrating” the environment as you encounter it, playing peek-a-boo and other interactive games.
  • Exposing your child to varied and interesting indoor and outdoor environments and allowing them to watch other children at play.

At GetzWell Pediatrics we can help take the guesswork out of navigating this important time in your child’s development. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

Have questions about promoting healthy development in your infant? San Francisco pediatricians Drs. Julia Getzelman and Nicole Glynn are here to help. Church St / Union St: (415) 826-1701.