At Speckles, we believe it is sooo important to keep an eye on the development of your child's vision, as this ensures they reach all of their essential milestones. An issue with your child's visual skills doesn't just affect their ability to see, it also acts as a barrier to their overall learning and understanding of what is going on in their environment.
Unless you're a trained eye care professional, it can be hard to know when there is a problem, so we've compiled a simple guide to help you understand how your child's vision develops.
Birth to 1 month
A newborn baby has minimal visual skills and their eyes can only focus on objects 5 to 7 inches away from their face. Their eye movements may appear uncoordinated as the muscles in their eyes are not yet strong enough to accurately track objects in their environment. They may move their head when attempting to see things in the periphery and blink in response to bright lights and fast movements. Newborns can only see in black and white and begin to start seeing shades of yellow, red and green at 1 month old.
1 to 3 months
At this age, babies can start identifying objects 10-12 inches away from their face. They become curious about the world around them, often staring at their parent, carer, their own hands and close-up objects. At this age, your child begins to learn how to visually track objects without moving their head, a skill that is crucial when they learn to read.
3 to 6 months
Your little one is well on their way to recognising their environment and the people around them as they can now see clearer images and a full spectrum of colours. They may gaze at you lovingly or become infatuated by visual stimuli such as a hanging mobile or their favourite teddy. The biggest milestone to look for at this age is the development of hand-eye coordination.
If your child is struggling to locate, pick up and guide objects accurately, it may be worthwhile seeking the opinion of an eye-care professional.
6 to 12 months
As your child can now see clearer images, they begin to develop skills like depth perception and independent eye movements. As they can now tell if objects are close or far away, they are enticed to move their body to find the objects and people they want. You can encourage their curiosity about the world around them through toys that feature vibrant, contrasting colours or simple games like peek-a-boo.
1 to 2 years
The days of leaving your little one in a rocker while you run errands around the house are officially over... you now have an adventurous toddler! Their distance vision, depth perception and eye movements will have improved significantly, allowing them to focus on objects for longer periods of time. Your child's ability to recognise differences in faces, colours, sizes and images will also have improved, enhancing their interest in playing with, well... anything else they can get their little hands on.
If you notice your child starting to squint to see objects that are far away or rubbing their eyes excessively, we recommend you get their eyes tested at your local optometrist. You can learn more about signs your child needs an eye test in this blog.
2 to 4 years
During these years, your child's ability to change focus between close up and far away objects will improve significantly and their distance vision should be nearing 20/20 (in Australia this is known as 6/6 on the vision chart).
They will become more adept at using their depth perception and hand-eye coordination to explore and begin to start mimicking the movements of people around them. They may want to experiment with different colours, shapes and objects by playing with toys or creating beautiful artwork and this should be encouraged as it can enhance their visual acuity skills (the ability of the eye to distinguish shapes and details of objects).
Screening for refractive errors like amblyopia, strabismus, and other visual impairments is important at this age. You can learn more about when to get your child's eyes tested in this blog.
4 to 6 years
Your child is ready to start school and if their vision development is on track, they should be experts at navigating their environment. They can now do simple activities like throwing and catching, drawing, cutting and they may even be on their way to reading books! The eyes should be able to move and track objects confidently... you may even be on the receiving end of a few eye rolls.
Head to the EyeHub to learn more eye-mazing eye facts and tips for your child's visual health!