If you've spent much time around toys, art and books for babies, you've likely noticed a strong trend toward black-and-white images. Young babies tend to focus their attention on the sharp contrast between black and white, so experts recommend zebra patterns, polka dots, and simplified, high-contrast art work to capture a baby's eyes and mind. Because of this, many parents believe that newborn babies see only in shades of gray. If you're wondering when your baby will be able to see color, here are some facts to consider.
1. Babies can perceive color from day one. Despite common misconceptions, newborn babies do have the same cone photoreceptors in the retinas of their eyes that adults have. Because of this, all babies -- except, perhaps, those with inherited vision defects, or "color blindness"-- can perceive color to some degree. The notion that all babies are colorblind is inaccurate.
2. Newborn vision is blurry.The reason for newborns' attachment to high-contrast imagery largely stems from the fact that their eyes do not move in tandem and tend to produce blurry imagery. A newborn baby's general vision is very poor because he has not developed the neurological ability to see with normal adult precision. So, while newborns can see color, the shades are likely to blur together because of natural difficulty with focus and eyesight.
3. Young babies have trouble perceiving subtle differences in color. Although newborns can see color, their immature neurology prevents them from discerning the differences between similar tones. A two-month-old can not see the differences between red, pink and orange, and different shades of brown likely look identical. It takes several months of development before these subtle differences become apparent to a baby's rapidly developing eyes.
4. Immature color vision persists for several months.Until your baby approaches his first birthday, he won't see colors exactly as adults do. During the first year of life, he will gain not only the neurological ability to see more clearly and with more distinction, but also to form comparisons and unspoken definitions for different hues. Unless he is color-blind, he'll have adult-like color perception by his first birthday.
5. Provide appealing opportunities to see new colors. When your baby is a newborn, emphasize black-and-white images so that he can learn to see and focus in general. At two or three months, start reading more books with sharp, primary colors, which a baby can distinguish more easily than complex hues. After six months, introduce a full array of hues, shades and saturations to your baby's repertoire of perceived color. These early experiences can help to nurture visual, cognitive and descriptive skills for later in life.
BabyCenter offers more information about the development of eyesight in babies.
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