I’m always searching for well-written information for parents of newborns, particularly first-time parents. Here’s an excellent description of how well a newborn can see, from the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Insitute . Read this and you’ll see that a lot of information in pregnancy and parenting books is outdated.
- The idea that newborns can only see in black-and-white is wrong. Babies respond most readily to contrast, and black-and-white is all contrast. In fact, newborns can distinguish most colors, though their overall color vision isn’t as good as an adult’s. But they seem to prefer black-and-white toys because there’s not as much contrast between, say, blue and green as there is between black and white. (Plus, people keep sticking black-and-white toys in front of them…) Bottom line: brightly colored, contrast-y toys and mobiles are just as good.
- Newborns are able to focus from a few inches away to the far distance. Their vision works best in-close because the visual area of the brain isn’t fully developed at birth. Within a few weeks it’s completely up to speed.
- I now officially have crummier vision than a newborn. I was taught that newborn babies had 20/200 vision, identical to mine. Now I see they’ve been promoted to 20/120. Seems like cheating to me.
There’s a lot more, too. I’m adding this to the list of online parent resources I use in my practice.