Hey, wow! Eye time with Dr. Andrew in session!
I’m an optometrist from Grand Rapids, Michigan, here to talk babies and eyesight with you. I have three kids, who (as you can see above) are all way past the newborn stage. But I’d like to share some information and tips about your baby with regards to eyesight.
Did you know that when your little one is born, their eyesight is not fully functional? This process takes many months after birth and is a critical part of a baby’s development. A newborn needs to feel, hear, taste, and smell to become familiar with the world around them. But the sense that most strongly develops their growing nervous system and brain is their eyesight. By providing your little one with the right kind of visual stimulation in the first few months you can ensure you are helping their noggins grow healthy and strong.
When a baby is born, the cells in their nervous system are still developing and the connections are not fully formed. It is important that the brain has appropriate input from all five senses. The right kind of input ensures appropriate neural connections are made. Visually, when these connections are put in place the right way your baby’s eyesight thrives to its full potential.
Okay, so most of you already know that babies need the right stimuli to develop properly. You guys are all super smart and fantastic parents with adorable kids. But did you know that a developing newborn responds better to bold, high contrasting visual stimuli as opposed to light, busy pastels? Studies show that a baby’s developing visual system responds more favorably to black and white high contrast patterns as opposed to cute pinks, yellows and light blues. Fill your nursery with Easter colors and you might as well be blind folding your baby, but add dramatic black and white patterns and watch their little eyes light up!
The retina is an important part of the eye that captures visual information and sends this signal directly to the brain. Adult eyes can easily detect and distinguish complex color patterns and shades whereas babies can only pick out large contrasts between light and dark. You and I can see and appreciate various shades of pastel colors on a nursery wall but a newborn just sees this as one blurred image.
Okay so Dr. Andrew please cut to the point already!
Alright alright alright, I will. My best advice is as always to use your own best judgement when it comes to helping your baby learn and grow. But I would like you to keep in mind that instead of buying a lot of crazy color patterns and cute designs that you may like for your baby’s nursery, it might be better to keep things simple and basic, i.e. black and white. Consider simple black and white striped toys, decorations and books vs light colored options and you can ensure that you are giving your baby’s precious eyesight a good start to development!
Thanks for reading!
Andrew Wilke, O.D.