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What Does a Newborn Baby See?

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Updated May 21, 2014

Can newborn babies see
Cherry KimCollection/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Question: What Does a Newborn Baby See?
My one-week-old infant seems to enjoy looking at my face. Can he really see me?
Answer: One of the many joys of a newborn baby is witnessing the development of the senses. A baby is born with the eye structures needed for vision, but must learn how to use them together to actually be able to "see." Although newborns can't see very well, they can see quite a bit. Newborns can differentiate between light and dark, but can't see all colors. They are also extremely nearsighted, meaning that far away objects are blurry. This nearsightedness may explain why babies seem to gaze at nearby objects. Studies have shown that infants enjoy looking at faces, but they probably aren't able to see much facial detail. Your baby may appear to focus intently on your face, but he's probably studying your hairline or the outline of your face. An infant is not able to see fine details.

Amazingly, the sense of sight seems to develop quite rapidly. By six months of age, sight becomes a baby's most dominant sense. Some six-month-old babies actually have better vision than some adults.

Source:

The University Health Center of Virginia. Normal Newborn, Newborn Senses, 12 Feb 2004.

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