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What Your Baby Will Enjoy Looking At

Published December 30, 2007        by Nicole

At birth, babies prefer high contrast.Black and white designs provide the most contrast.At first, babies prefer geometric patterns with stripes and angles.Soon they will shift their preference to circular patterns, such as bull’s eyes.

Within three weeks, the most exciting image in his visual field is the human face.Because your hairline and your eyes offer the most contrast, he will at first concentrate his gaze between your nose and your forehead.Between four and eight weeks, your baby may break into his first social smile while studying your face.At three months, he will be able to distinguish your face from a stranger’s.By rewarding you with a special smile, he lets you know that he recognizes you.By four months, his vision has matured.Like you, he enjoys looking at things that are colorful, novel, and in motion.

How do you know when your baby finds something visually interesting?An alert, calm, baby will respond to a pleasing object in his visual field by brightening his face and moving his arms and legs rhythmically.An active baby will stop moving and carefully scan the object with his eyes.He will signal to you when an object doesn’t interest him or when he has had enough stimulation by turning away and withdrawing.

Avoid bombarding your baby with visual input (this limits many of the baby gifts you were given) during the first two months of his life.During this time, while he’s getting settled, all stimuli should be low key.In these first weeks he is becoming familiar with his hands and should not be exposed to a lot of jazzy stimuli that will distract him from that familiarization process.Later, when he has begun to master basic visual skills and has gained control over his head and hand movements, he will be ready to explore his visual environment.As always, take your cues from him.

Things That Stimulate Visual Development:

  • Black and white geometric patterns.
  • Your face.
  • Toys with faces.
  • Out of reach mobiles [remove them when the baby can sit to avoid entanglement].
  • Mirrors [choose stainless steel mirrors he can’t break].
  • Being carried about by you.
  • Being placed in an infant seat [always fasten the lap belt and never leave him unattended].