At this age, babies can now assess how close or far away an object is (depth perception). At the same time their arms are getting stronger and they are more able to reach out and grab objects. This new found clear vision will help them with this. This means when you next try to take that cuddly photo don’t be surprised if little baby has got a hold of that phone, or at least tried to, before you have gotten a chance to take it.
In this article however I will be focusing on just one of these magnificent developments, some may say the most magnificent. Sight.
Second, when newborns are awake, they’re busy little things: feeding, filling their diapers, crying, squirming. They’re not still much at all. This adds another layer of complexity and randomness to a photo shoot, which often doesn’t translate well into portraits.
Focusing and following is one of the first significant sight developments and happens around 4 to 8 weeks usually. This is very interesting to the baby but also to the parent as so far baby hasn’t been able to interact or play much. But now that they can start following and focusing on things like a waved toy in front or them, or passing something from hand to hand will really intrigue your little one. Eventually they will learn to reach out and grab the toy themselves all because of this first sight development.
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That said, when they’re 8-12 weeks, they are much more aware of the world around them, with more focussed eyes, and with expressions that are beginning to result from social interaction. That’s when we normally do the first eyes-open shoot … big wide eyes, toothless happy grins, and natural innocence. Fabulous portraits!
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The first picture of a little baby boy on our list is baby Maison. Cute as a button he was also born wide eyed, staring right up at his tired Mama. At this moment, Mama would have just been a blur of shapes, light and movement but in the weeks to come, Maison would soon see something a lot more fascinating.
Sight is obviously one of our five senses which makes it vital for our quality of life and one’s future in general. To say the least, it’s important for this sense to develop well. This is not to say that partially sighted or blind people can’t lead amazing lives. But preferably, if we could choose, sight would be a sense we would definitely want fully developed.
Deidre Sorensen is a London UK based photographer. She specialises in maternity, newborn, and baby photography in her Kensington & Chelsea portrait studio.
As I just mentioned in one of the previous entries in this list, at 8 months a baby’s vision is so clear it can recognize people and objects from across the room. And as soon as this happens it encourages them to demand for objects. They do this by either pointing to it, crawling towards it, or grabbing it. Most likely it is none of the many toys you bought for them, but rather your phone, the TV remote, something you don’t wish for them to have. You try to take it away from them but now their vision is strong they are not going to let it go, and they will keep demanding unless it is out of their sight. Even then maybe not.
For those clients that opt for the first-year-of-life package, we normally do multiple shoots throughout the year, including the sleeping newborn (1-2 weeks), the early baby shoot with open eyes (2-3 months), the later baby shoot (6 months), the sitting, playing and maybe supported standing baby shoot (9 months) and the cusp of toddlerhood shoot (12 months). It’s a great way of tracing their first year with the same photographic and creative style, and getting a full range of expressions and moments, including sleeping, laughing, pouting and everything in between! Quite magical, really.
Pregnancy and birth. Both of these things are considered by many as miracles; what the female body can do is truly amazing. But the magic does not stop there, it continues through the development of the baby as soon as they exit the womb and enter the world. Weight, height, strength, co-ordination, everything starts to develop quite rapidly over the first year of a baby’s life.
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As babies’ eye sight develops, patterns open a whole new world of vision to them, especially complicated patterns. Most babies will be very interested and want to stare at them, trying to focus on them and figure out just what is going on in this new thing their eyes have picked up on. Wearing a patterned top or showing them an object with patterns on it, mom can keep her baby entertained at least for a little while. Linking it to the previous entry, if the pattern is full of bright colors that is even more exciting to the little one.
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At around 9 months, whatever color your baby’s eyes are at this stage may likely be the color they will stay. Whether the color has not changed since birth or you can see a drastic difference and the color is a complete opposite to what it was at birth, this is likely to be the final color (not always however).
Newborn baby Teddy is cuddling into his Mom with his beautiful eyes wide open. At this moment Teddy would not have been able to understand how close or far away his Mum’s phone was when she took this picture, he would have no sense of depth perception. But 4 months on and depth perception will be developing.
Around 2 months old, a baby starts to get excited by contrasting colors. He is able to see primary colors more clearly and can distinguish between different shades. You can take advantage of this by showing them lots of different colors in their picture books or on their toys. Most likely they will prefer the bright, primary colors and contrasting colors like blue and red, and black and white. Orange and red may be too similar for them to tell apart at this point.
For these final photos, the names of the babies are unknown, but oh my goodness that does not mean you cannot soak up all the cuteness. This picture of this little baby with a pretty hairband just melted my heart. As adults we can see this picture very clearly, our vision is fully developed. You may not believe it but babies’ vision is just as good as an adult’s at quite a young age.
First, newborns don’t see very well and their eyes don’t easily focus on anything. So when we look at them as we hold them, we see their beautiful moving eyes. But when we photograph them, the eyes don’t look focused, and it’s disconcerting. It’s the same as looking at a photo of an adult who’s looking through the camera not at the camera. It is unsettling, because you expect to make eye contact. Even if the newborn is looking away, the eyes often don’t align and the final image is therefore nowhere near as beautiful as seeing the baby in reality or seeing the peaceful sleeping portrait.
From only seeing light and shapes to being able to recognize a face from across the room (usually Mommy or Daddy), a baby’s sight development over the first year of their life is fast and fascinating, which I hope to explain to you here. To accompany this list there will be some beautiful photos of some babies born with their eyes open, ready to see the world! Be prepared for cuteness overload and some interesting facts.
Our third little premature baby on the list, again her little eyes are wide open taking in the world around her. The brave tiny souls they are. This is another photo that I wish I could credit the photographer for, it is just incredible. Babies are just adorable little miracles. This little one wouldn’t be able to point or demand at this stage, but in the months to come they will be able to do just that.
This last picture, again unknown, is of this little bundle of joy – how adorable! To think in 1 year’s time their vision will be 100x better than it is right at this moment. They have so much to see and look forward to and they don’t even know it.
At around 5 months, babies’ sight is getting a lot more clear meaning they can really focus on objects. Not just big colorful, contrasting ones either. At this point even small objects can catch their attention; their little eyes can pick it up from a distance. This will then lead to the next stage of sight development, examination and recognition. That is a very important milestone which will help them as they get older.
Mummy did a great job at capturing this picture of newborn baby Ariah, just so sweet! You could get lost in those beautiful eyes. You wonder at this point what baby Ariah was staring at as her vision would not have been very clear yet. But clear vision would soon follow and Ariah would be able to stare at things that were far away from her.
Finally, they don’t yet make any expressions really or respond to social stimuli, so their beautiful faces, frozen in an image, look uninterested, bored or unhappy – even though they are happy little newborns, wriggling around and getting used to being in the world. We’re conditioned to look for social expressions that they just don’t make yet.
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The second last entry on this list now, I hope you have learnt some things about a baby’s sight development that you did not know before. This picture is unknown but I had to use it, that little hand next to his face is adorable. Maybe this little one is thinking, “When will I be able to tell the difference between near and far?” I highly doubt that, but let’s go with that anyway as it leads onto my next point.
Back to the gorgeous baby girl pictures now with baby C, she is only a few hours old in this picture. She is wrapped in her pink blanket and pink hat and just looks so perfect. At this point, Callie would not even be able to see the little bunny pattern on her sleep suit but soon patterns will be very fascinating.
By 1 year old, that is it. Your baby’s eye sight is fully developed (usually). They can now see every bit of the world that is presented to them and interpret it as they wish. Sight has encouraged them to reach, grab, crawl, interact, smile and maybe at this point try and walk. It is a very important sense and now that their sight is clear, who knows what else they might learn as they grow. And although they are loving being able to see everything, I bet Mom and Dad are wishing they could have one more newborn cuddle. Don’t we all.
Back to the baby boy pictures now, cute baby Leo is showing off his wide eyes just after being born. Looking right at his Mommy he would not yet be able to copy or mimic her but with clearer vision in the upcoming months this would soon be possible.
So, with eyes that don’t focus much, random squirminess, and little expression, it’s not the right time for an awake portrait shoot. That’s why we keep them asleep, eyes closed in those early days. Sometimes, over the course of a newborn shoot, I’ll snap a few with the eyes open, but it’s not the focus of the shoot – the curled up, nestled sleeping newborn is! And this is the shot that is the most beautiful at that age, the pose that allows us to capture the minute details of those early days that disappear so quickly: the tiny fingers and toes, the way they hold their lips as they breathe in their sleep, the way they curl up as in the womb, the perfect little fingernails, the gorgeous tiny eyelashes, and the peace that they exude as they lie in sleep, so trusting and comfortable with the world around them.
What a perfect camera angle in this photo, I wish I knew who to give credit to. They really captured a great moment right here of this cute little one with those blue eyes. Those blue eyes of course may not always be blue as a baby’s eye color can often change as they grow older. Blue, green, brown, hazel, who knows what color they will end up with. But we do know around about the time when whatever color they have will probably stick.
I often feel bad when a parent asks this, as I really want to be able to achieve the shots they imagine in their heads. Unfortunately, there’s a very good reason we shoot newborns with their eyes closed. In fact, there are several:
Sweet baby Livi spent some time in the neonatal unit when she was first born. This did not stop her from opening those pretty eyes however, and taking in the world for the first time. Everything being so new and her being so small, she would not be able to examine or recognize anything yet but this was yet to come.
Before I get into what a baby’s first sight is like and what they see when they are first faced with the world, I would like to take a moment to tell you a bit about the baby in the picture. This baby girl is my daughter, Ella-Grace (now 8 months). I had an emergency c-section and to our relief Ella-Grace was born perfectly healthy with the biggest, bluest eyes looking right up at us. From that first breath everyone has mentioned her eyes. I myself always wonder what she would have actually been able to see in that first moment. Thanks to my research now I know and can share it with you.
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Once the initial shock is over babies can still see mostly light, but now they are used to it and trying to use their new found sight. It’s mostly blurry shapes that their eyes start to make out. Still nothing much but a little bit more than just bright light. At this stage, babies can also make out movement, seeing the blurry shapes and light moving around really captures their interest and this is how babies first start trying to get control of where their eyes go, and being able to follow or focus things with their eyes.
The 5 month mark is when a baby’s vision gets clearer and they are able to see more; lots of things change and new skills come into play. As I said, examination and recognition begins which is fun for both parent and baby. What is also very exciting and often funny to mum or dad is when baby starts to copy/mimic them. Babies are able to use their developing vision to examine facial features and what they do. Puff out your cheeks, baby can copy it, stick out your tongue, baby can copy it, too. Very, very cute.
In a baby’s first moments of life they don’t see very much. The womb is quite dark and although it is possible for babies to open there eyes inside the womb there isn’t much to see. When they come out of the room it can be quite overwhelming and they mainly see light to which babies tend to squint away from. At this point it is more the sounds they are focusing on and just getting used to the fact they are now not in complete darkness.
By 8 months a baby’s vision is just as clear as an adults. Although a baby’s vision will still be best at close range, at the moment they will be able to see long distances, now being able to recognize you from across the room and any other person they see regularly for that matter. This also includes objects, if your baby can crawl at this stage you will find they will lock their sights on something across the room and they will be determined to crawl to it.
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As I mentioned in the previous entry on the list, clear vision leads into the stage of examination and recognition. By 5 months old, babies start using their sight to examine things, whether this be a person’s features or their favourite toy. Through this examination they can then begin to recognize things when they see them. Sometimes they may only need to see part of the item for them to be able to know what it is. At this stage playing hide and seek is a great game.
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Another bouncing baby boy, little baby Noah is chilling in the hours after birth. He’s staring right into the camera for his photo. Within the next month or two Noah would be able to not only focus on the camera but follow it with his eyes as it is taken away when the photo is taken.
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A baby’s sight development over the first year of their life is fast and fascinating!
Little baby Alexis is 3 days old in this image. Alexis was born 3 weeks premature and here you see her wide eyed and beautiful, ready to see the world but apart from a large amount of light, what else can she see.
Now at 9 months onwards your baby will have become a master at knowing what is near and far, all thanks to their fully developed sight. It is so fascinating how fast it develops in such a short period of time from shapes and light to being able to see clearly. You will be able to recognize that your baby is trying to figure out the distance of an item, they may start to crawl near something but then realize it’s too far and look at you for assistance. Look out for these signs.
Baby J is perfect as can be sitting in his Mother’s safe arms and, as all the babies on this list, his eyes are wide open taking in the world. Looking around, baby J would not have been able to see nor would have been interested in any color or contrasts, but in the months to follow that would quickly change.
On those occasions when parents have really requested we do a portion of the shoot with eyes open, mum or dad inevitably says part way through the shoot “now I understand what you mean!” I’m happy to try, if you understand the challenges, but I really advise to do sleeping shots at that age. They are gorgeous little people, and their little movements, their eyes looking around, their early exploration of the world are all amazing and wondrous to see in person … but those moments don’t make for a great photographic experience.
In the weeks following from birth a baby’s sight is still limited, but when holding your baby close to your face and allowing them to look at you for a while, they will be able to see your features. Every smile you make and every twinkle in your eye when you look at your darling baby they will now be able to see at close range. This is a good way to bond for both mother/father/guardian and baby.
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