How Far Can a Baby See?

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Vision is one of the first ways that newborns communicate with parents. But how far can a baby see? And at what rate should parents expect a child’s vision to development?

Here’s a look at what happens with a child’s vision during his or her first 2 years, as well as vision-related warning signs to look out for while your baby is still little.

You’ll see a vision development timeline below. But don’t panic if your baby isn’t following this developmental timeline precisely. Every child is different, and yours may development faster or slower than average. There are certainly no ramifications for your baby’s long-term ability to see. If you do have questions or concerns, your pediatrician should be able to provide authoritative answers.


Baby Vision: A Timeline for Sight Development

Most parents are curious what to expect at different stages during a child’s first couple of years. Here’s a look at what to expect with your baby’s vision during the first year, as well as what happens when your child turns 1 and starts pushing toward 2 years of age.

The First 4 Months

Early on, your child is only able to really focus on objects less than a foot from his or her face. That said, by about 8 weeks, your baby has started to develop greater hand-eye coordination, and he or she now has eyes that are working together. Your child’s eyes are still learning, though, and you may think they are crossing or wandering often — which is perfectly normal.

At 3 months, things start to change a little more dramatically. Look for your baby to start reaching for things and to better follow moving objects with the eyes. For example, you may find that your baby starts to follow your movement much better at 3 months.

5 to 8 Months

This is the period when your child starts to develop that elusive depth perception. In essence, this is when the world becomes three-dimensional for your child and he or she begins to judge when things are close or far away.

Your baby also begins to develop better color recognition. While it’s not yet on par with an adult’s, your baby’s ability to see color is now improving rapidly. Also, your baby may start crawling at closer to 8 months. The simple action of crawling also helps a child’s vision and hand-eye coordination.

9 Months to 1 Year

As every parent finds out during this 3-month window, your baby starts learning new tricks pretty quickly. First, he or she will start to use objects to pull up to a standing position. It’s also during this window when your child may take his or her first steps.

When your child is drawing closer to 1 year old, he or she will be far better at discerning distances, and you may also find that your baby can throw things with rough accuracy. That is, if they want to throw something, they can generally send the object in roughly the direction they desire.

1 Year to 2 Years

Things start to get a little more exciting between 1 and 2 years. Your child can now recognize objects, and you will notice that a child of this age will start to respond positively to familiar things that he or she sees.

This is the era of exploration and discovery. A child between 1 and 2 will want to look at everything, touch everything, taste everything, etc. This is good for vision development, too, as your child is becoming more and more familiar and more and more comfortable in the world.


Vision-Related Warning Signs

While parents shouldn’t panic if a child isn’t developing as quickly as others, there are always warning signs to keep an eye on. When it comes to vision, look out for the following four red flags:

  1. Sensitivity to Light: If your child seems to dislike light to a high degree, there may be an issue with pressure buildup in the eyes.
  2. White Pupils: While rare, a white pupil can indicate the presence of some forms of cancer.
  3. Crusty or Red Eyelids: Babies can pick up all sorts of different infections, and a red or crusty eyelid may indicate an eye infection.
  4. Constant Tearing: If your baby is constantly tearing up, it may indicate the presence of a tear duct issue.

As noted above, don’t panic if you see any of these warning signs. Simply visit your pediatrician, who can let you know whether or not what your child is experiencing is normal — or if there’s an issue that requires further investigation.


Final Thoughts on How Far a Baby Can See

Don’t forget to treasure each stage. You may find yourself eager to see your child’s vision development and for them to start making eye contact. But you should also savor those early days when your child can barely see past his or her nose, and when your child is fully dependent on your for absolutely everything. Every stage of the journey is sweet, and make sure you’re appreciating each one.

Any questions about how far a baby can see? Just leave them in the comments section below, of you can always send a message using our contact page.


Uncanny Kids is where moms and dads speak to moms and dads by sharing experiences, offering insights, providing tips and much more about the parenting journey. Explore our site to find product reviews, hacks, home remedies, news, trends and anything else related to raising Uncanny Kids.

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