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Chesapeake Pediatric Eye Doctor – What Can Babies See?

Chesapeake Pediatric Eye Doctor – What Can Babies See?


Chesapeake Pediatric Eye Doctor – What Can Babies See?

By: Dr. Amber Teten, Chesapeake Pediatric Eye Doctor

Many of you moms and dads might wonder what my baby can see throughout their first year of life. Can they see your face? Can they see their bottle? Can they see the book you’re reading? These are all great questions! However, the response differs based on a baby’s age. Let’s discover what a pediatric eye doctor tells her patients about the development of their baby’s visual system.


Like you thought, your newborn cannot see 20/20 vision right out of the womb. It is normal for babies to be farsighted when they are born. How often a newborn has their eyes open can vary. Newborns will blink in response to objects close by and bright lights. Newborns are only able to see in black and white hues. And they love the black-white contrast! They can fixate on an object about 8-10 inches away but not track a moving object quite yet. Their eyes may seem a bit uncoordinated as the eye muscles are trying to figure out how to work independently and then later get better together. They prefer to focus on faces, especially mom and dad or siblings. So, snuggle that newborn!

Three Months Old

Babies are still farsighted but are decreasing in amount. At about 2-3 months of age, tears start to form when they cry, as the lacrimal gland begins working. They are starting to be able to focus more, especially on faces. So, they might be able to tell the difference between mommy versus daddy. They are beginning to be able to see certain hues of colors, although not vividly like a child or adult. They are starting to slowly track and follow moving objects, although it might not be super smooth or quick as their visual system and coordination are still developing.

Six Months Old

At this age, babies start seeing objects at further distances, and their depth perception or 3D vision develops. So babies are often beginning to reach for things such as toys or your hair but cannot successfully grasp them well. They are continuing to become less farsighted. And, at six months is when we recommend a baby’s first eye exam, ideally before they’re one year old.

Nine Months Old

Now, a baby’s depth perception has fully developed, and they start grasping for objects and can see much farther away. At this stage, we begin seeing babies preferring to crawl; it’s crucial to encourage crawling and not skip to walking, as we want important hand-eye and body-eye coordination to develop accordingly, which is vital to other developmental milestones down the way. And usually, a baby’s eye color is their final color around this age.

One Year Old

Yay! Happy Birthday, Baby! By this time, a baby can see 20/20 vision like an older child. This stage in development is a great time to mention if you’re noticing a baby behind on some milestones such as grasping or crawling by age 1. it is recommended to have a comprehensive eye exam to ensure vision development is not limiting motor development. Babies can see themselves in the mirror and smile back at that beautiful baby! They can start more fine motor movements such as pincer grasp, which continues to work on eye-hand coordination. So let them have fun with art time and some crayons, washable, or those baby puffs on a table for a yummy snack.

Babies grow and develop so quickly. At times it literally might seem like overnight they grew or couldn’t do that yesterday. So, enjoy the development adventure with your little one, and be sure to schedule an appointment with Navigation Eye Care once your child is 6-12 months of age.

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