The development of the senses takes place in the womb and the last sense to develop fully is the sense of sight. It is only at around six months that a baby’s vision is believed to be fully developed. Newborn infants see the world as slightly washed out and somewhat paler than we as adults do. For this reason, we suggest you use strong contrasting colours like black, white and red when stimulating your infants vision. Infants prefer bold patterns, the contours of a circle and the edge of a square. These are preferred at first, later they start to look into the shape for more detail. Patterns that hold an infant’s attention are the bull’s eye pattern, stripes and checks.
Infants are also thought to be short sighted and as such can only focus on objects close at hand, the ideal being 20 – 30 cm away from the face. Is it not wonderful that this is the approximate distance to your face when you are holding your baby? It is also the approximate distance from the outstretched hand of an infant to her face; this allows her to focus on the object that she is holding.
Infants have what is called binocular vision and this is rectified slowly as the child learns to coordinate her eye movements with her head movements, allowing the development of normal muscle tone. Activities that can promote this are tracking exercises.
Good eye contact is vital for good social interaction. We often find children who battle to communicate effectively, are unable to make good eye contact. By teaching your baby to maintain eye contact, you will be teaching her to get more information about language just by watching your facial expressions. To develop good eye contact, hold a toy near your face to encourage your baby to look at you when you talk to her. Use gestures and facial expressions when talking to your baby.
Toptots Early Learning SA