Childhood Eye Development: Your Baby from Birth to Three Years Old

As the vision of your child develops rapidly during the first three years of their life, it’s important to know how their eyes are changing and what you should be looking out for. By understanding the various milestones over the first three years, there are a number of ways you can help your baby’s skills to progress.

0-3 Months

At the start of their life, your baby will see the world in a hue of dark patterns and lights, but during the first month, things will start to take shape for them. They’ll start to recognise faces, will make eye contact with Mum and Dad and will eventually start to reach for objects nearby. Their light sensitivity will increase and you may notice them becoming transfixed with things that interest them.

To help enhance this period, you can move their cot around frequently, giving them other things to see and focus on. Hang a mobile from their cot and talk to your baby as you walk around the room, so they have sounds they can follow. When introducing new toys to them, keep them around 8- to 12-inches away from their face so they can focus on them.

4 – 6 Months

During this stage, your baby should start to use their legs and arms and will be turning from side to side. They’ll also be developing their hand-eye coordination skills, which makes this a great time to introduce games like patty-cake to your baby. Present them with different shapes and textures too.

6 – 12 Months 

Now, your baby’s eyes are almost the same as an adult’s, providing them with equal focus in both eyes and the desire to explore. Towards the end of this stage, they should start to use both of their eyes together, increasing the precision with which they grab objects and their perception of distance.

Hide-and-seek is a great game to start playing, as is interaction with other children that they can imitate. Give them toys that have different elements to them, e.g. stackable toys, and encourage them to crawl as this will further develop their coordination.

1 – 2 Years

Hand-eye coordination should be fully developed now so keep encouraging them with interactive toys and give them the chance to play in different environments, e.g. outdoors.

2 – 3 Years

Your toddler is now full of adventure and their eyes will have nearly reached full maturity. Let them engage in all of their favourite games while encouraging them to read, draw and paint so as to prepare them for the next stages of their life.

Warning Signs

Should you have any concerns over the health of your child’s eyes, you should seek the professional advice of an ophthalmologist, (i.e. someone who offers laser eye surgery in the UK), as these first few years are critical to their progress.

There are a number of warning signs that should be looked out for, these include: crossed eyes, shaking of the eyes and tearing excessively. If there are any eye problems in the family, this should also be noted, as should any irritation to the eye(s), drooping eyelids or over-sensitivity to light.

Lara Hall has a medical background but is currently on maternity leave preparing for her princess to arrive. She is spending her time writing articles and adding last minute cute additions to the nursery!

Photo source: imagerymajestic of

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