If you have a newborn at home or know of one, I’ve got just the thing for you.
Have you noticed your baby’s eyes light up when you’re having a face-to-face convo? Or their eyes widen when you dangle a toy with contrasting colours and patterns in front of them? This is because your baby’s vision is still pretty fuzzy. Basically, they can only see the face of the person holding them and not much beyond that. Naturally babies are drawn to the human face, especially yours. This is because a newborn’s range of vision is approximately 8-12 inches/30 centimetres. As your baby grows so do their nerve cells; forming connections, and providing visual input to their brain through the information perceived from their eyes. That is why it is so vital for your baby to receive continuous visual stimulation in order for the visual centre of the brain to develop and flourish.
When my son was a newbie, he would fixate his blurry eyes on a few select things and not waste his glazed-gaze on much else. The one item, a black and white rattle he would stare intensely at, as if it were the Mona Lisa. The other, my sister, who coincidently only wore black and white stripes whenever she would visit. She would pride herself on being able to capture his attention as his eyes would lock on her. Turns out that my son’s visual addiction to his aunt’s nautical-inspired wardrobe was simply due to his underdeveloped retina in search of some outside information to feed his growing brain. So here’s the low-down: high-contrast patterns and bright colours captivate your baby because they are the easiest to see. This is because a baby’s retina (the part of the eye that detects light) isn’t fully developed at birth. As adults, we can identify various shades, but baby’s can only distinguish between black and white, or light and dark. In other words, those pastel colours we tend to drape around our babies serve no purpose here I’m afraid.
As a parent, understanding the importance of stimulating my baby’s vision made me want to further his ability to explore the world through his eyes. So, I began to create my own basic black and white images. It’s simple and you don’t have to be an artist to achieve anything extraordinary. Your baby’s visual centre will thrive just the same from any high-contrast pictures, even if the lines aren’t straight. Start off by using a black marker on white paper, preferable GOOS paper (good-on-one-side) and draw black and white simple patterns such as stripes. Don’t forget that babies are drawn to faces, so they naturally enjoy large pictures of them. You can also stimulate your baby’s eyesight and brain development by printing out black and white visual stimuli from sites that offer free printables. Be sure to place these images within 12 inches from their line of sight and watch as the excitement on your baby’s face grows with each new image. I also recommend placing these visuals where your baby has downtime so they are able to self-entertain while you take a washroom break.
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