What is Baby Eye Tracking and How Can You Boost Your Baby’s Eye Development?
Baby’s eye development is pretty impressive, they go from only being able to see something very close to them to being able to see as well as most adults at around 9 months of age. When thinking about a baby’s visual development, it’s essential to not only think about what they can see but how a baby can see, step in visual tracking. Visual tracking is one of the most important jobs of the eyes, and we need this skill to help us search for someone in a crowd, catch a ball, and read left to right.
What is visual tracking?
Visual tracking is a skill that allows us to control where we focus our eye gaze. As this skill develops, it will enable the eye to track movements from side to side, up and down, round and round and diagonally, generally, babies can track around the age of 2-3 months. Our Bunny Teether is a lovely highly contrasted toy which will attract baby’s attention to help them track, you can find them here.
Why is visual tracking important for my baby?
It is important for your baby because it relates to lots of other areas of development. For example:
- It supports your child’s concentration skills, being able to intently focus on one thing at a time will support your child’s growing attention span
- It gives your child an opportunity to ‘’cross the midline’’. Crossing the midline is the ability to reach the middle of the body with arms and legs, visual tracking encourages children to perform a task on the opposite side of the body (for example reaching for a toy)
- It develops your child’s vestibular system. This is the internal sense of balance that helps control hand-eye coordination
How can I help my baby as their visual skills develop?
There are plenty of things you can do to support your child as they get older, this NHS article has some useful information about newborn sight development, and below is a helpful timeline for some more ideas:
For the first two months, you might notice that your baby sometimes appears to be cross-eyed, or their eyes seem to wander to the sides. This is because their eyes do not work together very well until around 3 months of age.
At about 2 months babies can usually follow a moving object, so try moving a highly contrasted object slowly from side to side and see if they can follow it. You can buy our Chiming Shakers which would be a really useful tool for this activity and support baby’s hearing development too.
At 3 months old, your baby’s eyes might be able to work together and your baby may even reach out and be able to bat at a toy, a jungle gym is a great activity to encourage this.
At around 5 months old a baby is able to see in 3D. They have also developed something called depth perception which means they can begin to tell how far away something is from them. It is a great idea to place objects in front of them during tummy time to see if baby will begin to reach out for the toys (and perhaps you will see a little shuffle as they try to move towards it!), our Nesting Babies would be perfect for this, and there are lots of options of colours and characters to choose from!
Babies can usually begin to recognise their parents from across the room around this stage and will smile when they see them. Though their sight is still not quite as developed as an adult’s. Try calling your baby from across the room whilst in sight and see what their reaction will be, peekaboo is a lovely game to introduce at this stage too!
At around 9 months of age, children often begin to pull themselves up to stand. This is because their sight has developed to judge distance well. Baby walkers are a great tool at around this age to practise this skill!
At around 12 months many babies are crawling, their developed sight will help them figure out all the places they want to go. They will usually be very skilled at picking up things with their thumb and forefinger too (these items usually end up in baby’s mouth of course!). Babies love the try to watch bubbles fall and will sometimes try to pop them at this age too- such a lovely activity!
Please remember that all children develop at their own pace, and every baby is different. So if your baby isn’t doing one of these skills at a particular age, this is usually nothing to worry about. However, if you do have any concerns, we would encourage you to contact your GP or Health Visitor.This blog has been written by our Resident Play Expert here at Rosa & Bo, Sarah Doman. Sarah is a Hypnobirth and Early Years Expert. She helps families from pregnancy to children of school age to give birth and parent with confidence. You can find her on social media @sarahldoman.