You want to be a prepared parent. As soon as you found out that you would have a baby, you bought the latest edition of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. You research baby health concerns, and you’ve even purchased classical music to stimulate your child’s cognitive abilities from a young age.
But what can you do to help your child’s visual development?
Environmental factors starting from within the womb can influence your child’s ability to perceive sensory detail and focus on objects near and far. Vision will be a crucial element of your son or daughter’s childhood, especially when they learn to read.
Read our ten suggestions to discover new methods to help your child’s vision during the first year of life.
Decorate Your Baby’s Room With Color
Research shows that developing eyes respond well to high levels of contrast. As your baby grows, purchase decor that has bold colors and varied shapes. Baby’s eyes are also drawn to new items, so rearrange the furnishings every few weeks.
Illuminate Your Nursery-Even at Night
A nightlight will give your newborn needed visual stimulation while he or she falls asleep. If you put your baby down fora nap in a closed, dark room, you may cause some eyes train. Use a night light to ease the transition period, and give your baby a chance to visually explore the room before and after bedtime.
Infants: 2-4 Months Old
Inspect Your Child’s Eyes for Blockage or Cloudiness
Month-old babies often develop blocked tear ducts. This blockage can cause your baby’s eyes to water excessively. Take note of any clogging in your child’s tear ducts, and notify your pediatrician if the problem doesn’t improve after several weeks. He or she can recommend a course of action to help reopen the tear ducts.
You should also survey your child’s eyes to see if any cloudiness or blurriness exists on the lens of either eye. If you spot any obstructions in your child’s eye, ask an eye doctor for an exam. Your child could need preventative care or even surgery later in life.
Don’t worry if your infant’s eyes cross or track separately. Muscle control for the eyes develops in a later stage, so don’t fret about it now.
Infants: 6-8 Months Old
Give Your Baby a Tour of Your Home
At this age, babies are ready to explore and interact with their surroundings. When you carry your child around your living space and talk out loud about its features, you reinforce your baby’s connection to certain objects. Take care to point out familiar objects, such as a table and a set of chairs, and repeat the names a few times to your baby. Over time, your baby will learn to recognize your belongings by sight. This method will also help you check your baby’s hearing development as well.
Stimulate Movement on Both Sides
Babies in this developmental phase also need stimulation to both sides of their brain. Because each side of the brain performs different functions, babies need both sides to develop in order to process visual information and learn educational tasks later on.
When you play or cuddle with your child, move both the right and left arms. Games like patty-cake will teach your child hand-eye coordination, and they will also increase the neural connection between both halves of his or her brain.
Plant Toys or Mobiles in the Crib
A few months after birth, babies’ eyes begin to focus on objects within their reach. You can encourage the connection between your child’s sense of sight and touch when you provide visually stimulating toys.
Give your child soft toys or decorative mobiles to play with in his or her crib during bedtime. Your child will get excited to have a little extra time to play, and the identifying, reaching, and grabbing skills will help your child with dexterity and coordination.
Take a Trip to the Optometrist
You might feel that your six-month-old is too young to visit the doctor, but experts recommend an infant eye exam during this important phase of development. When you go to the optometrist, you can expect your doctor to test for common eye health problems, including astigmatism, near or farsightedness, and eye alignment.
The earlier you take your child to the doctor, the earlier you can begin treatment if you encounter any vision impairment in your child’s eyes.
Baby on the Move: 9-12 Months Old
Invest in Smart Toys
As your baby begins to move, he or she will want to explore different shapes and textures. Depth perception develops during this stage, and your baby will test this perception by dropping or tossing objects to judge distances.
Encourage exploration and discovery by choosing toys that stack or large puzzles that your child can take apart. Clay and other soft items will also stimulate your child’s development.
Provide Sun Protection
When you feel comfortable taking your baby outside, always pack sunglasses or a hat. Excessive exposure to sunlight can cause lasting damage, especially for light-eyed children.
Schedule Regular Eye Exams for Your Child
To make sure your child has the proper care for his or her eyesight, make sure to get regular checkups with your eye doctor. If your child needs corrective treatment or prescription lenses, you’ll do your child a favor when you discover it early on.
Remember these ten tips to help your child’s visual development from your first moments together until his or her first birthday. For more information, contact your local ophthalmologist.