Vision and Your Baby

There is a wealth of knowledge on tummy time and its importance for motor development and strengthening, but do you how important tummy time is for the visual system? If babies do not get enough tummy time, parents may notice delays in crawling, vision development, and other learning disabilities. Let’s take a look at how a baby’s vision develops.

Babies learn to see over a period of time, much like crawling and walking. It is important to have healthy eyes and good vision in order to promote the development of “seeing.” To support this development of seeing, it is important that a variety of activities are provided to build and refine vision.

In the first couple of months (birth to 4 months), a baby’s eyes and visual system develop significantly. A baby’s initial primary focus is within 8-10 inches away from their face. Often they can appear to stare intently at high contrast items, but they still are not able to tell the difference between two different items.  A baby’s eyes start working together in the first couple of months and vision improves drastically. They begin to figure out eye-hand coordination as they track and learn to reach for items around 3 months of age.

Around 5-8 months of age, the coordination of eye movements and eye-body movements are being refined. It isn’t until the fifth month of life that the eyes are working together, and babies begin to observe the world in a 3-dimensional view and see things in-depth. By 6 months, a baby is able to hold their head still while using their eyes to look around the room. The emergence of crawling, typically around 8 months, continues to develop and refine eye-hand-foot-body coordination.

By 9-12 months of age, a baby can judge distances fairly well and throw items with precision. Babies at this age should be able to pick up smaller items with a fine pincer grasp. Babies will begin to pull themselves to stand and may also begin to learn how to walk, but parents should also continue to encourage crawling as this helps solidify and strengthen eye-hand coordination skills.

By 1-2 years of age, a child’s depth perception skills and eye-hand coordination are well developed. Children at this age are learning by watching and listening to all the things happening in their environment, and they will recognize objects and pictures that are familiar to them.

After looking at the visual system and how it develops in an infant, we can conclude that tummy time is critical for the development of the visual system. Without tummy time, the body will have weak core muscles. This will delay head control and result in an inability to hold their head steady, causing a child to see blurred images because they cannot control their eye movements. Strong core muscles allow the head and neck to work together with the eyes to locate and track objects.

If you have questions or concerns about your child’s vision, contact MOSAIC Rehabilitation.