Milestones in Infant Vision Development

Infants are born with a complete visual system but must learn how to see. A child's vision will develop throughout the first year of life. Your child's vision development will be monitored at each well-baby appointment, assuring important milestones are met. Below are the top five milestones in vision development.

Portrait of baby boy
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Focusing Ability

Most infants can focus accurately by two to three months of age. The ability to focus requires special eye muscles to change the shape of the lens to form clear images. Before two months of age, an infant is capable of focusing objects both near and far, but not very well. It takes time for the eye muscles to learn how to avoid focusing "too close" or "too far away" from near or far objects.


Eye Coordination and Tracking

A baby usually develops the ability to track and follow a slow-moving object by three months of age. Before this time, an infant will follow large, slow-moving objects with jerky motions and eye muscle movements. A three-month-old can usually track an object quite smoothly. A baby should begin to follow moving objects with the eyes and reach for things at around four months of age.


Depth Perception

Depth perception is the ability to judge objects that are nearer or farther than other objects. Depth perception is not present at birth. It is not until the third to ​the fifth month that the eyes are capable of working together to form a three-dimensional view of the world.


Seeing Color

An infant's color vision is not as sensitive as an adult's. It is hard to tell if babies can distinguish colors because their eyes might be attracted by the brightness, the darkness, or the contrast of an object against its surroundings, and not by the color alone. By two to six weeks of age, however, a baby can distinguish black and white.


Object and Face Recognition

An infant is born with the ability to see facial features at arm's length but is attracted instead to high-contrast borders of objects. For example, a baby will gaze at the edge of a face or the hairline when looking at a human face. By two to three months of age, a baby will begin to notice facial features, such as the nose and mouth. By three to five months, most babies can differentiate between their mother's face and a stranger's face. An infant's vision continues to develop and change.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Optometric Association. Infant vision: Birth to 24 months of age.

  2. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Vision development: Newborn to 12 months.

  3. Infant vision Development: What can babies see?

By Troy Bedinghaus, OD
Troy L. Bedinghaus, OD, board-certified optometric physician, owns Lakewood Family Eye Care in Florida. He is an active member of the American Optometric Association.