A baby’s eyesight develops over time. At birth, babies can see up to 9 inches—the distance from a mother’s breast to her face. In fact, within a few days of birth, studies show that babies prefer an image of their mother’s face over any others. Don’t be concerned if your baby can’t focus on objects right away. That skill will develop along with your baby.
During the first week of life, your baby’s vision will be blurry. She will see shades of gray instead of colors. By about the end of the first month, she should be able to see color. Your baby’s developing eyes can be harmed by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays; a wide-brimmed hat can provide the protection she needs.
Through your baby’s second and third months, her vision will continue to improve. Her eyes will begin to work together as a team, and she will be able to follow objects. Your baby will begin to reach for objects she can see, and shift her gaze between objects without turning her head.
Don’t be alarmed if you see your baby’s eyes cross during the first month. From birth until about 4 months of age, it is considered normal for the eyes of infants to wander or cross. You can read more about this on baby gooroo here.
While some crib mobiles tout their ability to stimulate early eye activity, mobiles need to be removed from a baby’s crib once the child begins to push up on his hands and knees (generally around 5 months of age and often before a baby’s vision is fully developed).
By 6 months of age, your baby will be able to see more distinctly, move her eyes faster and more accurately, and follow moving objects. In addition, her visual acuity will improve from 20/400 to 20/25. Her color vision will be nearly complete.
The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends a first eye examination around 6 months of age. The doctor will assess the health of your baby’s eyes and check for visual acuity, nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, eye tearing, and alignment. The public health program InfantSEE® offers free eye and vision assessments to babies 6–12 months of age. Under the program, which is designed to ensure that eye and vision care becomes an integral part of child health care, AOA optometrists provide a comprehensive assessment to ensure healthy development and provide early detection and treatment.