Baby's eyes

Baby's eyes

A checklist for your baby's eye and vision development during their first year. If you have any concerns about your baby's vision, see your family doctor or Well Child service provider.

Key points to remember

  • seek medical advice if you have any concerns about your child's eyes

How do we see things?

Light enters the eye through the cornea, the clear outer skin or window at the front of the eye. It passes through the pupil, the hole in the iris or coloured part of the eye. Light rays are then focused on the retina at the back of the eye that then sends information via nerves to the brain where the pictures are recognised and interpreted. All the parts of the eye form your baby's eyesight (vision).

Baby's first year - checklist 

If you have any concerns about your baby's vision, see your family doctor or Well Child service provider.

At birth

  • babies are attracted to faces
  • they may avoid bright lights by closing eyes
  • their eyes may sometimes appear to wander or be turned

At 1 month

  • babies start to fix on their parent's face whilst feeding
  • they occasionally have a turn in their eyes
  • they follow large moving objects for a few seconds and begin to show interest in toys

At 2 months

  • babies are more interested in toys and objects
  • they follow a person with their eyes
  • they recognise a parent's face and can tell it from other faces

At 4 months

  • babies can focus on toys held close to them
  • their eyes should be straight and move together in all directions
  • babies are interested in smaller more detailed toys
  • they reach for toys, grasp firmly and regard closely

At 6 months

  • babies become more skilled in using their eyes to locate and reach objects of interest
  • they follow objects with their head and eyes in all directions
  • they are visually alert and curious about their surroundings
  • they follow an adult's movement across the room

At 12 months

  • babies recognise familiar people from at least 6 metres away
  • they will have binocular vision (the ability to use the eyes together) from 9 months

Starship Foundation and the Paediatric Society of New Zealand acknowledge the cooperation of The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney Children's Hospital at Randwick, and Kaleidoscope - Hunter Children's Health Network in making this content available to patients and families. The content has been slightly adapted for New Zealand famlies.

This page last reviewed 23 March 2016.
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