Vision is one of the main instruments that we use to explore and learn about the world around us each day. For children, this is especially true, as they are continually presented with new environments, situations and people on a daily basis!
How amazing is it to watch a baby explore his or her environment for the first time, a young child play in the yard with a friend, or kids of any age as they discover new toys, tools, games or animals that they never knew existed before?
A baby’s sight is still developing for the first few years after they come out of the womb, and it can be several years before they are seeing and exploring at their full potential.
While you watch them grow, you can support their eyesight and visual development by implementing a few small actions into your routine each day. Let’s take a look at the stages a baby’s sight goes through and how you can help their development.
From 0-6 months old
When your baby is born, their vision is blurry, and you may notice that your baby is looking a little cross-eyed from time to time. Don’t worry, this is normal!
They will start to reach for things and follow moving objects when they get closer to 6 months old, but in the first month or so they won’t be able to focus on anything that is further than 12 inches away.
What can you do?
- Keep a mobile above baby’s bed
- Talk to your baby while you are moving around so that they follow you with their eyes
- Place brightly colored toys within arm’s reach of your baby.
From 6-12 months old
Now your baby is focusing clearly, and you won’t see much of that cross-eyed look anymore. They are more aware of their surroundings and are able to judge distances – they’ve probably started throwing things around too!
What can you do?
- Allow your baby to play with safe objects of assorted colors and textures.
- Once they start crawling, supervise them moving around different rooms and obstacles.
- Sing songs to them using hand movements, such as Incy Wincy Spider.
- Keep baby’s room decorated with bright colors and interesting things to look at.
- Interact with your baby using building blocks and toys that come apart.
- While you may be itching for your baby to walk, the more time they spend crawling, the better their hand-eye coordination will be.
1-2 years old
Your baby will be fascinated with their new-found freedom once they learn to walk. Their depth of perception and coordination is really coming along now, and they’ll have a refreshing interest for the world around them.
What can you do?
- Once they start walking, visit unfamiliar places such as parks where you can point out objects that are far away.
- Introduce puzzles and building toys, as well as interactive games with colors and characters.
When should you start annual eye exams?
As parents we all want the best for our children, and we will do anything in our power to provide that for them. While implementing daily activities and exercises to help strengthen our children’s vision and support them in their overall growth and development is something that all of us can do – it is important to remember that your child is also best supported by the professionals!
It is recommended that your baby have their first eye exam at around six months of age. An optometrist can assess their overall eye health and the development of their vision to give you assurance and also to pick up on any underlying issues as early as possible, so that they may be corrected.
Regular eye exams are important at all ages, so it’s a good idea to keep an annual appointment with your optometrist to support your child right through their schooling years.
Of course, if you do notice anything out of the ordinary with your baby or child’s eyes, stay calm, and get them safely to an eye doctor straight away for an examination.
We know that your child’s vision is important to you, and we want to SEE the best for them too!
We look forward to SEEing you soon!