When can babies see?

mom holding newborn as they look into each other's eyes
Photo credit: Katie Rain for BabyCenter

Babies can see from birth, though at first your baby's vision is pretty fuzzy. In fact, babies start to see in the womb – their eyes open when you're 27 weeks pregnant, and in utero your little one can focus on large objects and discern the color red.

Newborns can't see clearly, but they can make out light, faces and large shapes, and movement. Interestingly, your newborn's eyes are physically capable of seeing well at birth, but their brain isn't ready to process all that visual information.

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Your baby's vision improves dramatically over the first year, and they'll be able to see pretty clearly by the time they're 8 months old.

By the time your baby is 3 to 4 months old, they can distinguish between colors and focus on smaller objects. At 4 months old, depth perception begins to develop. Your baby will get better at spotting little objects and tracking moving things with their eyes.

If your baby doesn't watch moving objects, or if they seem to have trouble moving one or both eyes in any direction by the time they're 4 months old, talk to their doctor. Routine well-child checkups include basic vision assessments, but kids usually don't have a formal vision screening until 3 or 4 years old.

How far can newborns see?

Newborns can see only about 6 to 10 inches away — just far enough to clearly make out the face of the person holding them. Handily enough, your face is the most interesting thing to your baby at this age, so be sure to put in a lot of face-to-face time.

How far can babies see at 1 month old?

Your baby can now see about 8 to 12 inches away. Although their eyes may still wander randomly and even cross at times, your baby is starting to be able to use their eyes in tandem so they can consistently focus both eyes and track a moving object. A rattle passed in front of their face will often transfix them, or you can play eyes-to-eyes by getting very close to their face and slowly moving your head from side to side. Often, their eyes will lock onto yours.

How far can a 2-month-old see?

Your 2-month-old can see people and objects as far as 18 inches away. They may even be able to follow your movements when you're close by. Color differences are becoming clearer to your baby, and they'll start to distinguish shades such as red and yellow.

How far can a 3-month-old see?

Your baby is now able to recognize familiar people and objects from several feet away, or even across a room. They're also getting better at telling the difference between colors. As a result, your baby will probably begin to show a preference for bright primary colors and more detailed and complicated designs and shapes. Encourage this by letting them look at bright pictures, photos, books, and toys. At 3 months old, they still won't be able to tell the difference between very similar colors or pastels. Also, your baby's depth perception isn't fully developed.

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BabyCenter's editorial team is committed to providing the most helpful and trustworthy pregnancy and parenting information in the world. When creating and updating content, we rely on credible sources: respected health organizations, professional groups of doctors and other experts, and published studies in peer-reviewed journals. We believe you should always know the source of the information you're seeing. Learn more about our editorial and medical review policies.

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Eva Dasher
Eva Dasher writes, researches, and edits content on a wide variety of subjects, including parenting, medicine, travel, natural history, science, business, and the arts. Her favorite pastimes include experimenting with new foods, libations, and restaurants, as well as traveling the world with her two college-age children, husband, extended family, and friends.