How Well Can Newborn Babies See?

Babies are born with a full visual capacity to see objects and colors. However, newborns cannot see very far -- only objects that are 8-15 inches away. Newborns prefer to look at faces over other shapes and objects and at round shapes with light and dark borders (such as your adoring eyes). Just after birth, a baby sees only in black and white, with shades of gray. As the months go by, he/she will slowly start to develop his color vision at around 4 months.

So you're not imaging it when you see your baby fixate on your face and eyes, especially during a feeding, when your face is about a foot away.

When to Worry About Your Baby's Vision:

  • If your baby never seems to fixate on objects about a foot away -- especially your face -- in the first weeks or months, tell your pediatrician.
  • At three to four months, if your baby still looks "cross-eyed" (the left and right eyes seem to be looking in different directions), this could be a sign of a visual or eye muscle problem and should be evaluated at your next check-up. Be sure to tell your pediatrician if you're concerned.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Lisa Bernstein, MD on August 01, 2018

Sources

SOURCES: 
Augustyn M, Zuckerman B, Caronna, E. Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics: A Handbook for Primary Care. Third Edition. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins: 2010.

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