Activities to Help Improve your Baby’s Visual Development
Your baby’s first year of life is an exciting time of growth and development - from the first time, they look at you to when they try their first solid foods and to other first moments. Along with these exciting milestones, your baby’s vision goes through a lot of changes developmentally. As a parent, you can help support your bubs’ visual development daily through simple activities. This blog post will discuss your baby’s visual development in their first year, activities to promote their visual development, and tips for keeping your bubs’ vision healthy.
What can babies see?
Baby’s Visual Development Milestones: Newborn
Your little bubs is born with the ability to see the most important thing to them - you! By the time they’re two weeks old, they’ll start to recognize your face and focus on it for a few seconds at a time. You might even get a smile from them when they see your face! At this age, their vision is still fuzzy and can only see objects 8 to 10 inches away. That’s the same distance as you would be if you were playing and feeding them. Newborns are only able to see in black and white. You’ll see your bubs’ head move from side to side as they spot objects or light but they won’t be able to move their eyes from side to side to look at objects.
Don’t worry if your bubs’ eyes appear crossed at this age at times - their eyes are still learning how to work together to see, focus, and track objects. But if you notice this goes beyond 4 months old, it might be worthwhile to check with your doctor, pediatrician, or optometrist.
Baby’s Visual Development Milestones: 2-4 Months
Your bubs will appear to be more sensitive to light now that they can see a bit more. They’ll start noticing their hands and feet and will start studying their hands. This is the start of their hand-eye coordination skills!
Your bubs will recognize you, their siblings, and other caregivers at this age. At about 3 months, your bubs will start to follow moving objects with their eyes. They’ll also start to reach for objects. Colours are no longer blurry to them.
Baby’s Visual Development Milestones: 5-8 Months
As they approach their half-birthday, your bubs’ depth perception starts to improve. This is when they start seeing their world in 3D. Your little one will start to reach for objects near or far from them. This newfound skill may motivate them to start crawling. Once your bubs learns to crawl, they’ll be able to refine their hand-eye coordination skills and see more of their world. They’ll also be able to focus their attention on an object across the room.
Baby’s Visual Development Milestones: 9-12 Months
By the time your bubs are one, their ability to focus on objects will be much longer than when they were born. Their vision is much more refined at this age and will spot smaller objects like crumbs. They’ll show interest in pictures and start to recognize the objects or people in them. You’ll notice them pointing to familiar images in their favourite books.
As your bubs start to crawl, walk, and explore more, their depth perception and hand-eye coordination skills will develop more.
How you can promote your baby’s vision development
Visual Development Activities for 0-4 Months
- At this age, your face is the best toy for your baby so don’t be afraid to get close to your baby when you talk, sing, play, smile, and make funny faces at them. This way, they’ll see you and can start recognizing your face too.
- Give them high-contrast black and white or primary colours (red, blue, and yellow) toys and books to stimulate their visual interest (like our Play Mat & Activity Gym).
- Hold a toy or rattle 8 to 10 inches away from their bubs face and move it from one side then to the other.
- Use black and white cards and place them on the floor or 8 to 10 inches away from your baby during tummy time.
- Place black and white cards or objects on both sides to get your bubs to change sides and work both sides of their vision.
Visual Development Activities for 5-8 Months
- Sensory bottles can be a quick and easy craft that your bubs will love for tummy time or while they practice sitting. Fill these with colourful objects like biodegradable confetti, water and dye, or flowers.
- Use a mirror during tummy time. By 5 ½ to 8 ½ months, your little bubs will start smiling back at the baby they see in the mirror. It won’t be until much later (18 months to 2 years old) that they’ll start recognizing the baby in the reflection is them.
- Use toys like rattles or crinkle toys to motivate your bubs to reach for them.
- Go outside, point, and name different objects. You can start with simple objects like the sky, clouds, trees, flowers, leaves, grass, and rocks.
- Play games like “Patty Cake” to encourage hand-eye coordination and mid-line movement.
- Create a starry cardboard box with string lights. These lights aren’t too bright and are soothing enough to stimulate your bubs’ interest.
Visual Development Activities for 9-12 Months
- Create a book with family pictures. You can use different members in the family (including pets!), your bubs’ face and their different feelings, or activities you enjoy together.
- Reading books will help stimulate your bubs’ vision and help with speech development too!
- Play hide and seek with them with different objects. This will help develop their memory. At this age, they’re able to see partially hidden objects. Use a light swaddle blanket (like one of these!) to partially cover up an object and watch them work to uncover it.
Tips to promote baby’s healthy vision
Here are some tips to help promote your bub’s visual development:
- Get your bubs’ vision checked. It is recommended that they have their first eye exam at six months to determine if there might be any vision challenges.
- Protect your bubs’ eyes when you’re outdoors. Their eyes are still developing and are more sensitive to UV rays. Some strollers have a UV canopy and reflective details to help protect your bubs from the sun’s harmful rays.
- Use a cap or bucket hat with UV protection.
- Get your little one a pair of sunglasses to protect their eyes from UVA/UVB rays.
- Wash your hands before touching or cleaning your bubs’ eyes.
- If you’re cleaning your baby’s eyes, use only sterilized materials.
A Whole World To See & Explore
Your bubs’ first year is full of exciting growth and development! As they start seeing and exploring more of their world, you’ll be able to witness the magic of these first moments. Beautiful ones like when they first recognize your face to when they examine their hands and see it for the first time to when they’re on a walk and pick up every single leaf to explore its details. As a parent, you can be a part of this magic, see this world, and help them grow into their own selves.