Tips for Stimulating a Baby's Visual Capacity

Stimulating a baby's visual capacity is a means of integrating them into the world and strengthening parental bonding. Learn more in this article!
Tips for Stimulating a Baby's Visual Capacity

Last update: 03 October, 2021

The sense of sight is one of the least developed at birth. That’s why stimulating a baby’s visual capacity is so important.

Children are born with difficulty focusing. However, in a few months of intense learning, they’ll do it quite well, by imitating movements, recognizing faces, and interacting with them.

Babies are attracted to objects with a lot of contrast, rounded shapes, movements, and voices. Early stimulation provides security by helping them to locate and recognize their caregivers. Visual communication comforts and bonds them.

Undoubtedly, stimulation’s necessary for reasons that we’ll explain later. In the first year, the pace of a child’s cognitive experiences is dizzying.

What’s a newborn’s vision like?

Newborns come into the world with the right vision to hold on to life up close and personal.

In the foreground, they see their mother who, about 10 to 12 inches away, is looking at them, smiling, and breastfeeding. Farther away, their blurred vision exempts them from understanding what’s going on around them in order to concentrate only on what’s close and vital.

The gaze of babies at birth is directed toward the mother, to the rounded shape of her face, to the contrast of her eyes, to her high-pitched voice. Also at the darkened color of the areola. It’s this first glance that makes us parents.

Pediatrician Marc Pilliot, in the article “The newborn’s gaze” (La regard du naissant),  refers to it as a “founding gaze.” In other words, it’s a bridge to the life that’s just beginning.

Because of the dark warmth of the womb they left behind, babies don’t like brightness. If they follow something with their eyes, they follow it sideways, not up and down. What’s more, they look at the edges and not the center.

A baby gazing at her mother's face while breastfeeding.
The gaze of a newborn baby on their mother during breastfeeding is classic and is part of their development.

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Tips to stimulate baby’s visual capacity

In general, we shouldn’t force children to perform any activity. They learn exclusively by playing in an environment of harmony, joy, and tranquility. If you notice that they’re irritated, it’s because they’re not enjoying what’s going on.

Early stimulation

From the time of gestation, the mother has a close and intimate relationship with her unborn child. The fetus hears murmurs and voices that, at birth, it encounters once again. This is exciting for them. Numerous studies show that the prenatal relationship’s crucial in the development of mother-baby affection.

Indeed, from the moment the baby’s eyes open and the initial exchange of glances that build the foundations for the maternal relationship takes place, it’s possible to stimulate the baby’s visual capacity. Smells and colors, plus the warmth and softness of the mother’s skin, prepare the baby to begin the instinctive adventure of existence.

Stimulating a baby’s visual capacity: Strengthening contact

The mother-child visual relationship is intense and will be the guiding thread of the other stimuli. The relationships that the eye establishes with objects will mobilize the hands and the body.

Eye-hand coordination is structural and will determine the baby’s progress in neurological development. By the way, if at the moment of breastfeeding, the mother does not look at her baby, the baby will lean forward trying to reestablish contact. If they don’t succeed, they may cry.

Another element that strengthens contact is the woman’s own education and enlightenment. In this regard, sensitive mothers are more likely to adapt their behaviors to the stimulation, regulation, and communication needs of their babies.

Encouraging curiosity

There’s no doubt that the engine of knowledge is curiosity. In children, it’s what mobilizes the entire system of learning.

The environment babies visualize, which is close and in movement, directs the child toward survival and protection. Biologically, they’re attracted to faces because, in particular, faces are what they focus on the most.

After that, they’re attracted by luminous forms that reproduce organic sequences and rhythms. Attracting their curiosity, making them follow objects, making them appear and disappear, are all part of the training of their ability to search and memorize. And these exercises are part of the field of neuroplasticity.

The benefits of stimulating baby’s visual capacity

Visual acuity begins around three months and increases until six months of age. Then, it’s already close to reaching the values of the visual field of adults, although it’s feasible to stimulate a baby’s visual capacity from birth.

A key element in the stimulation is the possible early detection of vision problems. In fact, it’s possible to diagnose them before the age of one year.

For example, in children under thirty days of age, it’s possible to determine if they fix and follow their gaze on a moving object of interest. The test won’t be conclusive until the third month of life. But if the baby isn’t able to do this, they should be taken to a specialist.

Finally, stimulation leads to body awareness, which is the basis of spatial awareness. This, in turn, is based on auditory and tactile development and haptic information at birth.

A child lying on his back playing with a baby gym.
Colorful mobiles stimulate toddlers with contrast.

Learn more: 12 Ways to Stimulate Your Child’s Brain Health

Stimulating a baby’s visual skills: The earlier, the better

By the 25th week of gestation, the fetus has one hundred billion neurons, but only some are connected at the moment of birth. It’s then, from birth to three years of age, that they’ll be integrated through networks and connections.

That’s why early stimulation with music therapy is so important from the womb up to 6 years of age. Adding exercises and games that activate their sensory, intellectual, motor, emotional, and social development is key. Voices and sounds, caresses, colors, and movements are also elements that generate nervous connections in their brain.

In conclusion, sight is one of the senses that should be stimulated as soon as possible. Keep in mind that it’s in the first four months that vision and its corresponding neurological circuitry develop.

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