Baby's Sense of Sight

Visual stimulation is another important way to engage your baby's interest in her surroundings. Newborns can focus best on objects 7-15 inches from their eyes, which is, appropriately enough, the distance from baby's face to mother's face during breastfeeding. Stimulating your baby's vision helps develop eye muscles and eye control. Because your newborn can see only this short distance and is relatively immobile, it is up to you to provide a variety of things to see. 

Of all visual stimuli, animated and talking faces draw the newborn's attention the most. Newborns will gaze most frequently at the edges of faces. As they get older, they will gaze into your eyes. By 2 days, your baby will be able to tell the difference between your face and that of another woman. Smiling, talking, facial expressions and eye contact help to create a loving bond between you and your infant. 

Newborns also like to look at high-contrast patterns and highly contrasted colors such as black and white, or red and yellow. Try placing colorful stuffed toys or patterned cards in the crib. Babies only a few hours old can distinguish red, yellow and green from gray. By 2 months, and sometimes even by 1 month, babies appear to have largely normal color vision. Not everything has to be colorful; even the contrast between light and dark areas of the room fascinates infants. 

Your baby will also enjoy looking at objects that move, such as mobiles. Secure these items and place them far enough away that your baby can't touch or kick them. Changing your baby's field of view can be achieved by simply changing her position, especially in the first few months, before she can roll over by herself. 

Here are some developments in your baby's sense of sight you may have noticed in the first few months: 

Your baby can focus on objects about 8-12 inches away -- perfect for viewing your face while you feed him. However, eye "crossing," either persistently now, or at any amount after 4 months, is abnormal and should be discussed with your baby's healthcare professional. 
An infant's eye muscles are weak, so his eyes may sometimes seem uncoordinated. 
He watches and listens intently when you talk to him. 
He prefers human faces. 
Let your baby study your face at close range. Use a lot of exaggerated facial expressions and imitate the faces he makes. 
Maintain eye contact with him whenever you can, for as long as he likes. 
Smile at your baby often to show your love, good humor and approval. 
Carry your baby about, supporting him so he can look over your shoulder or face forward. 
Show him pictures and objects with highly contrasting patterns or colors. Babies also like bright, shiny objects. 
Open the blinds, or raise the window shades to see if he moves his head toward the light. 
Secure a brightly colored mobile to your baby's crib. Remove it when he can raise himself to hands and knees or when he can sit up. 
Your baby's eyes can partially follow an object moving slowly in a circular direction. 
He can see objects in more detail, and can focus on things up to 20 feet away. 
He likes to look at objects of various shapes, sizes and colors. He especially enjoys looking in the mirror.

Quiet Alert

Most babies will be in this state, ready to respond to their surroundings, for 2-4 hours each day. When you interact with him, your baby may move his body or stare intently at objects within his range. This period is when your baby eats, and it is also the best time to stimulate his senses of touch, sight and hearing. 

Your baby's ability to focus is improving. 
She can follow an object as you move it slowly from side to side. 

She searches for the source of sounds and turns her head when a gentle noise is made near her ear. 
She prefers to watch bright, moving objects.

Some ways to stimulate your baby's sense of sight include:

Take your baby with you as you move from room to room during the course of the day. 
Show your baby objects of varying shapes, sizes and colors. Make sure that none of the items are small enough for her to put in her mouth. 
Slowly move a colorful object across your baby's line of vision to see whether she follows it. 
Take your baby on daily walks. 
Place a colorful toy near your baby's face while she's lying on her stomach to encourage her to lift her head to see it. 
Place your baby in an infant seat or hold him in your lap so that he has an upright view of his surroundings. 
Hang colorful, cheerful pictures on your baby's bedroom walls