Stages of visual development in Children

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Orthoptist Sehar Mann has contributed to this blog on Stages of visual development in Children.

We are all born with blurry vision, and our vision develops in the first 7-8 years of life but is most important when we are babies and toddlers.

Understanding the stages of visual development in babies and toddlers and how they perceive colours can help you provide the correct visual stimulation in their early months of life.


Stages of Visual Development

  • The Newborn Stage (0-2 months): Newborn babies can only see objects about 8 to 12 inches from their face – roughly the distance between your face and theirs during feeding or cuddling. They are drawn to high-contrast patterns, like black and white since their eyes are still developing.
  • The Infancy Stage (2-4 months): During this period, your baby’s vision starts to improve gradually. They follow moving objects and show interest in colourful toys and pictures. It is normal for their eyes to cross or wander as their muscles strengthen occasionally.
  • The Exploratory stage (4-6 months): At 4 to 6 months, babies reach for objects and have better depth perception as they can see more colours more clearly. This is an ideal time to introduce more colourful toys and books with large, bold pictures to stimulate their developing vision.

How Toddlers Perceive Colours

Understanding how toddlers perceive colours can help you create an engaging and stimulating environment for them. Here are some tips to help them:

  • High Contrast is Key: In the early months, your baby is drawn to high-contrast colours, such as black and white because they are easier for their developing eyes to distinguish. Consider incorporating these colours into your baby’s nursery decorations or toys.
  • The world of Pastels: As babies grow, they will notice more subtle colours like pastels. Soft blues, pinks, and yellows can be soothing and visually appealing for them.
  • Vibrant Colours: Babies can see a broader range of colours in the toddler stage. Bright and vibrant colours like red, green, and blue can capture their attention and stimulate their visual development.

Visual Stimulation in the First 6 Months

Visual stimulation is essential for development during the first six months. Here are some simple ways to provide the correct visual experiences:

  • Face-to-Face Interaction: Spending quality time making eye contact and talking to your baby can help develop their vision. They love to gaze at your face, and this helps strengthen their visual focus.
  • Colourful mobile Toys: Hang a colourful mobile above the crib. The gentle movement and bright colours will intrigue your baby and encourage them to track the objects.
  • Picture Books: Choose picture books with large, bold images and vibrant colours. Reading to your baby fosters bonding and enhances their visual recognition skills.
  • Tummy Time: Give your baby plenty of tummy time. This helps them develop strong neck and shoulder muscles, which are essential for visual exploration.
  • Mirrors: Babies are often fascinated by their reflection. A baby-safe mirror can provide endless entertainment and help with self-recognition.

Watching your toddler’s visual development is an exciting journey that requires your support and engagement. By understanding the stages of visual development and how your baby perceives colours, you can create a stimulating environment that encourages healthy growth and curiosity. Remember, every baby is unique, so enjoy the discovery process together and celebrate each new milestone.

At Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai, our dedicated paediatric department is staffed with expert ophthalmologists, optometrists, and orthoptists, all passionately dedicated to the eye care needs of children.