As a follow-up to my last blog post on normal vision development in young children, I’m going to share some strategies you can use at home with your baby to encourage proper vision development. Infants are not born with complete vision, good vision is developed through looking, touching, and exploring as your baby grows. This means that you, as the parent, can make a big impact on their vision development.
Here is a list of things you can do at home:
- Hold and feed your baby from alternating sides so that they develop both eyes evenly
- Place your baby in its crib facing in different directions
- Periodically change the location of the crib, allowing your baby to see the world from different viewpoints
- Change the position of a hanging mobile every other day, including hanging it off to the side of the crib so that your baby is looking at it through the crib's bars
2 - 3 Months
- Encourage your baby to explore things with their hands by providing objects with varying textures, sizes and weights to play with
- Help your baby shake a rattle in their hand
4 – 5 Months
- Allow your baby to help in holding their bottle while feeding
- Provide clean, smooth objects that your baby can explore with their mouth and hands
- Play the "patty cake" game, or other similar games
6 – 7 Months
- Play "peek-a-boo" to develop visual memory
- Move the hanging mobile close enough to the crib that your baby can reach it and make it move
- Tie bells onto your baby’s booties so they can learn about their body through sound and movement
- Schedule your baby’s first eye exam
8 – 9 Months
- Talk to your baby frequently so they can begin associating experiences with words
- Put objects on the tray of your baby’s highchair so that they can push the objects off and watch them fall to the floor
10 - 12 Months
- Don’t worry too much about rushing your baby into walking because crawling on all fours is important for developing coordination of the body and eyes
Since your baby isn’t born with their full vision, it is extremely important for parents to encourage the proper development of their eyesight so they don’t develop any problems. These tips above will help you facilitate that development. But if you notice any problems, take your baby in for an eye exam right away. The sooner issues are caught, the more likely they’ll be curable.
Recently, I had very observant parents bring in their two year old daughter for an eye examination because they noticed that one of her eyes sometimes seemed to turn inwards and not follow where the other eye was looking. It didn't happen all the time but it was occurring more frequently. My examination revealed that in fact this little girl was very farsighted, more in one eye than the other. As a result, whenever she tried to focus on objects close to her, she had to focus so hard that one of her eyes turned inward and it was on track to becoming 'lazy'. By simply correcting her vision with glasses we are able to 'right' her eyes and prevent the loss of binocularity she was headed towards. This is an example of why it's important to use some of the tactics in the above list, observe your child's visual behaviour, and take your child in for an eye exam early on.
To learn more about normal visual behaviour as your child grows, read my last blog post here.
By Dr. Nazima Sangha of Family Eyecare Centre