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How does my baby see me?

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My baby looks at me wide-eyed and sometimes stares obstinately at objects. How do they really see me and how do they perceive their environment? How do I detect a potential visual disorder?

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

From birth, your baby sees the world around them with their little eyes, but their vision is far from perfect. Baby's can only see like adults after a few months. Your baby will gradually perceive more things such as colours and details and it will significantly change the way they understand the world!

A gradually developing sense

Barely out of mummy's tummy, your newborn baby can see their parents, even if their vision is blurry at over 30-50 cm and limited to varying shades of grey. Your baby is able to focus and even recognise you! These first changes are unforgettable, packed with emotion and come with the desire to get to know one another better.

Your baby's vision gradually becomes keener. At around 1 month, they are able to follow a moving object with their eyes. They love peering at mummy and daddy's face and begin to perceive size. From 6 weeks your baby can see the colours red and green. At around 4 months, they acquire binocular vision, enabling them to perceive distances. They can now begin to grab hold of nearby objects.

The field of vision extends and becomes more accurate as the months go by, and your baby's colour vision becomes keener. At around 1 year, they know how to coordinate eye and body movements, essential for exploring the world on all fours even before learning to stand!

From 18 months, your baby perceives details and their vision enables them to manage the world around them: they know how to recognise family, can see objects from a distance, climb stairs while evaluating the height of the step, recognise places they love… or hate. They will soon be able to colour or draw what they can see in detail!

Vision, a precious capital to be cared for

Little ones often suffer from visual disorders and you should be aware of the signs indicating that your baby may not be able to see properly: tearing, red eyes, clumsy movements, headaches at night in older children. If your child shows any of these symptoms you should consult an ophthalmologist immediately. The earlier the disorder is treated the more treatment will be efficient and the less it will hinder your child's future development, notably learning how to read. In a number of cases, glasses and eye exercises can correct the problem.

Strabismus (a squint) affects approximately 5 % of children and means that the visual axes of the eyes are not aligned properly. This disorder may be present from birth or appear gradually up to the age of 2 or 3 years. Up to three months, the visual axes may vary a little but it is later on that any convergent or divergent movements of the eye, even the smallest or most occasional, must be taken as warning signs. A simple test, based on corneal reflection will enable your general practitioner to confirm or infirm your impressions.

In order to test whether one eye is weaker than the other, simply hide one eye after the other for a few seconds. If your child cries systematically when you cover the right eye, it most certainly means that the left eye does not work properly. However, it is not necessary to come to any hasty conclusions, only a doctor can issue a diagnosis!

You must also play close attention in summer. Little ones' eyes are a lot more permeable to light and the sun's rays than those of adults. As soon as the weather turns nice again, equip the pushchair with a parasol, and make sure your child wears a hat and sun glasses with a high protection factor (4/4).

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