When Will My Baby Be Able To Focus On Things?
Whilst babies do have some vision when they are first born it takes some time for them to develop the ability to focus and see things clearly. During their first twelve months, your baby's sight will undergo a number of changes as their ability to control their eyes and their perception develop.
When your baby is first born they will be able to make out shapes, light and movement, although what they see will be blurry and limited to black, white and shades of grey. They should look towards a source of bright light or blink when you turn the lights on in a dark room.
At this point their vision only extends about 20cm to 30cm, which will enable them to become familiar with your face if you hold them close. Don't worry if their eyes seem to wander independently of each other; they are still learning how to control them.
Your baby's eyes will be checked before you leave hospital as part of their newborn assessment to make sure that they have no congenital or neo-natal eye problems.
By the time your baby has reached one month they will be learning to focus their eyes. They should also start to be able to track a moving object such as a rattle passed in front of their face. Whilst they can see colours, they will find it difficult to distinguish between similar ones. Black and white toys or those with contrasting colours are likely to be of more interest to them at this stage.
Your GP should check your baby's eyes when you attend your post-natal check at between six and eight weeks to make sure that their vision is developing normally.
Your baby will now be beginning to distinguish between different colours so may become interested in a wider range of toys and books. They are likely to be interested in bright colours and more detailed toys. They will start being able to move their gaze from one object to another without having to move their head at the same time.
By now your baby has much better control of the muscles in their eyes and is starting to develop depth perception. This means that they can see in 3D and tell how far away something is. They will also be starting to get better control of their arms, so watch out, as they will now be able to grab and pull your hair!
By five months your baby is likely to have the ability to focus more clearly. They will be able to recognise their mother and distinguish her from other people. They can also examine objects in greater detail and may appear fascinated by particular toys or books. Playing peek-a-boo with their favourite toys may well enthral them at this stage. Their ability to focus means that they are developing the capacity to copy, so if you stick your tongue out or puff your cheeks out, they may well mimic you.
Your baby's field of vision will have extended by now and they will be able to see objects and people across a room. Their long range vision is not as good as their short range vision yet. However, it will continue to improve.
Your baby's ability to see smaller things will have improved dramatically by nine months and they will be able to see small objects such as a grain of rice or a crumb. They may also be able to point to objects and demand them. By now your baby's eyes will be nearly their final colour, although they may change a little more over the next few months.
By the time your baby is a year old their vision will be nearly as sharp as that of an adult. They will be able to tell the difference between near and far, understand where objects are in relation to others and recognise familiar people.
It is important to remember that babies are individuals and do not always follow the guidelines about when they are supposed to do things! If you have any concerns, you should speak to your Health Visitor or GP. Remember that it is normal for your baby's eyes to wander away from each other sometimes. If it happens a lot or if your baby squints frequently, speak to your Health Visitor or GP and they may refer you to an eye specialist to check whether there are any underlying issues.