When Do Babies Eyes Open?

The Scoop on Your Baby’s Eye Development: From Womb to Birth

What does your baby see in the womb? And when will you get your first glimpse of those beautiful peepers? Baby eye development is a fascinating process that all starts around week 6 of pregnancy. Take a peek from your baby’s viewpoint by learning how his vision develops and what he sees when he’s born.

How Babies’ Eyes Develop in the Womb

Beautiful pregnant woman sitting at bed and holds hands on belly in bedroom at home.

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Your baby’s eyes start developing shortly after conception during weeks 6 to 7. The ears start to form at the same time. Around week 10, your baby’s eyelids become better developed. By about 11 weeks, the eyelids close completely. They’ll stay that way until the third trimester, around week 28, when they open in the womb. At that point, she can open and close her eyelids and roll her eyes around. Think of it as practice for her teenage “eye roll.”

What Do Babies See in the Womb?

So what can your baby see before birth? There’s not a lot of scenery to admire, but your little one can see a little bit, especially when you’re in bright sunlight. The bright light can penetrate your belly, so your baby may be able to pick up some faint light, but his eyesight isn’t good yet. Sight is the last sense to develop, so he needs some time to see clearly, even after birth.

When Do Babies Open Their Eyes After Birth?

Beautiful pregnant woman sitting at bed and holds hands on belly in bedroom at home.

How Long Does It Take a Newborn Infant to Be Able to See Clearly?

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Your newest family member is finally here. When can you expect to see those beautiful eyes? Most babies open their eyes within minutes of birth, if not immediately, so you shouldn’t have to wait long to see those peepers. Your baby’s eyelids may be puffy after birth, making it difficult for him to open his eyes very wide. Newborns tend to open their eyes better when you hold them upright, so you can encourage your little one to open up by getting him vertical.

If your baby is born prematurely, his eyes may not open right away, especially if he’s born before 26 weeks’ gestation. His eyes should open around the 26-week mark without any extra treatments or interventions.

How Well Do Newborns See?

Even though babies open their eyes shortly after birth, they don’t have 20/20 vision. In fact, they’re so nearsighted that newborns usually have 20/200 to 20/400 eyesight. What they see is quite limited in those early months. Newborn vision is still developing after birth, so your little one can’t focus well. Her eye muscles are also getting stronger, which means you may notice her eyes crossing or turning outward. That’s perfectly normal until the muscles develop more.

Newborns seem to only be able to focus on objects about 6 to 10 inches from their eyes. Beyond that range, babies just see blurry shapes. That means you need to get in close, so your baby can see your loving face. Newborns love faces. High-contrast items are also ideal since babies likely can’t detect subtle color differences until they’re about 2 to 3 months old.

What About Newborn Hearing?

Babies begin hearing in the womb around weeks 19 to 21. They hear all the little sounds inside your body like your heartbeat and your digestive system activity. Your baby can also hear your voice and the voices of those around you, so don’t be afraid to chat with him frequently.

Your baby can hear things right after birth. Sounds can startle him since they’re much louder outside the womb. Most states require hearing screenings at the hospital. If your baby doesn’t have one at birth, schedule a hearing test within the first month to make sure he hasn’t suffered a hearing loss.

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