Track your baby’s vision development with our eyesight check list


Before a child’s first birthday their vision is still developing but you can track your baby’s progress using the following visual milestones:

Birth – 1 month

  • Your baby will briefly focus on a bright light and faces.

1 – 3 months

  • Your baby will start watching your face and make eye contact when you talk to her.
  • At three months she can also focus on objects in her line of vision.
  • She can follow objects horizontally.
  • Your baby will move her eyes and head together at this stage. Her eyes should be aligned in all directions of gaze by three months.

3 – 5 months

  • Your baby recognises your face at this age.
  • She’ll start to move her eyes around with less head movement, focusing on objects.
  • She’ll also start developing colour vision now.

6 months

  • At this age your baby should be able to focus on objects that are far away.
  • She should also be reaching for objects.

7 – 12 months

  • Your baby can now recognise faces, notice small objects and respond to smiles.
  • Most of her visual skills should be fully developed by now.

ALSO SEE: 6 childhood sight problems you shouldn’t ignore

Protecting your baby’s eyes

  • Make sure that your child’s ‘Eye’ section on her Road to Health Clinic Card is completed.
  • If your child needs special glasses, make sure that she wears them.
  • Keep your child’s face and hands clean to minimise the risk of eye infections.
  • Make sure that your newborn baby’s eyes are gently wiped clean immediately after birth. This will help prevent conjunctivitis and other more serious infections.
  • Immunise your child against measles.
  • Make sure she gets enough Vitamin A in her diet, or give her a supplement if necessary.
  • Even if a child is born blind, it may be possible to restore her sight. In about 40% of cases, the vision problem can be treated.

Signs that your child may have an eye problem

Check your child’s eyes regularly for any of the following abnormalities:

  • A white pupil or white spot on the pupil
  • Not being able to fix on and follow a moving object like your finger or a toy
  • One or both eyes being bigger or smaller than usual
  • Crossed eyes (squint) or one eye looking in another direction
  • A red eye, or redness or crustiness around the eye
  • Swelling or inflammation
  • Excessive watering
  • If the eye is protruding or sticking out.

ALSO SEE: 7 signs that your child needs an eye examination

Your child’s behaviour

Does your child?

  • Smile and follow your face by the time she’s three months old. Failure to complete this developmental milestone could indicate a vision problem
  • Cover or close one eye when trying to focus on something
  • Hold objects close or get very close to the TV, computer or blackboard
  • Have trouble reading or doing close-up work
  • Tilt or angle her head when she’s trying to focus
  • Complain that things are blurred or that it’s difficult to see
  • Squint or frown when she’s concentrating and/or looking at something in the distance
  • See double
  • Have jerky eye movements
  • Rub her eyes a lot or complain of sore, itchy or scratchy eyes.

If you notice any of the above mentioned symptoms, or if you suspect that there may be a problem, speak to a health care professional.

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