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When your baby is born their retinas are not fully developed and your baby sees the world very differently to an adult. Although they have been able to distinguish between light and dark in the womb, your new born can still only detect very large contrasts between light and dark after birth such as black and white. This means that pretty much all of the wider world around them is blurry and they cannot distinguish between shapes or colours.

Their field of vision is also very small, around about 6-8 inches, or roughly the distance from your face as they are feeding or having a cuddle. This is why you’ll often see your baby react as your face comes closer to them and they can make out more of your features. 

Research has shown that black and white, being the ultimate in high contrast, registers the strongest on a baby’s retina which in turn stimulates the brain. Strong visual signals to the brain means more brain growth and therefore faster visual development.    
You can help stimulate your new borns vision by placing black and white images such as books, flash cards and toys, around 10 inches away from their face. 

Along with the other four senses, visual stimulation is crucial in order to help the nerve cells in their brain multiply and connect with other nerve cells. Providing visual stimulation will help your baby’s retina to thrive, creating a strong optic nerve and in turn help the visual part of the brain to develop in leaps and bounds.

Read our new guest blog post from Emma Davies about early infant eyesight and the benefits of high contrast images here.


Sources of information: Dr Sears and The Scottish Book Trust

Further reading can be found at: