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When Do Babies Make Eye Contact? – Tips on Encouraging your Infant

Newborn babies are so precious!  We love the abundance of snuggles, the soft skin, the tiny fingers and toes.  As the weeks progress, they continue to eat and sleep and grow, and we moms lose more sleep and get more tired!

The next big milestone for a newborn is eye contact.  Newborns definitely know their mothers from birth; you can tell because they prefer their mother over anyone else! 

However, we moms feel a whole new connection with our babies when they are able to make eye contact with us.  Our hearts soar when this little tiny baby looks into our eyes and seems to say, “I love you!”  So, when can we expect this exciting moment to occur?  When do babies make eye contact?

Please note that I do not have any medical training, so please speak with your doctor about any concerns you may have about your child.

When do babies make eye contact?

Quick Answer: Most newborns begin to make eye contact around six to eight weeks of age.

  •   Before that, newborns recognize light and dark as well as movement, but eye contact will be more significant in that the baby is able to look at your eyes.  This is also about the time when babies smile.  Both of these milestones make us as moms so excited!
  • Of course, all babies are different, so don’t be too concerned if your baby is outside of that timeline by a little bit.  However, you may want to mention any concerns to your doctor, especially if your baby doesn’t seem to be making any sort of eye contact by ten weeks.  
  • Eye contact is important because it shows that the baby is able to see objects around him, to focus on these objects, and to categorize things such as faces.  The lack of this ability may point toward other medical complications, including autism, but it is not a direct correlation.  Again, speak with your doctor if your baby does make any eye contact by ten weeks.

How much eye contact is normal for babies?

Quick Answer: Don’t expect too much at an early stage.  He is normal as long as he is progressing and making a little more eye contact every week!

  • Newborns around six to eight weeks still sleep a lot!  So it may be difficult to find time in the day when your baby is awake for you to evaluate his ability to make eye contact. 
  • Only assess your baby’s eye contact when he is happy, has a full tummy, and is fully awake.
  • Around the age of six to eight weeks, your newborn is learning a lot every day but eye contact is still a new skill.  Of course, if you sense that there may be an issue, please discuss it with your doctor.

When does a premature baby make eye contact?

Quick Answer: The guideline for premature babies is that you calculate his development based on his due date rather than his birth date.

  • Premature babies are all quite different, especially because they have been born at different times.  For example, some of the earliest premature babies are born around 26 weeks where others are born at 36 weeks and are also considered premature.
  • An example, your premie was due on January 1, but she arrived one month early on December 1.  So as of March 1, your baby will actually be three months old, but should be meeting the milestones of a two month old.
  • You can expect a normally developing premature baby to make eye contact around six to eight weeks after his due date.

Tips on getting your baby to make eye contact

  •  At this age, newborns can only focus on objects less than about twelve inches from them.  This is about the distance from your baby’s face to your face when you are holding him.
  • To encourage eye contact in your baby, the best thing you can do is to look him in the eyes and give him lots of attention!  He is just learning to use his eyes and everything is new and blurry, but he will learn best from your example and encouragement.
  • Look at your baby while he is eating if he has his eyes open.  For the first several weeks, he will probably keep his eyes closed while eating, but when he begins to keep his eyes open, give him some eye contact and love!
  • Hold your baby close to your face and talk or sing to him when he is awake.  If he seems to recognize your or even make eye contact, make sure you smile back at him so that he associates eye contact with positive energy.  
  • You can also encourage further developmental growth by moving your baby gently to the side and see if he can follow your face.  This is the next step after making eye contact, but remember that it is easier for him to follow objects moving horizontally than vertically.
  • After your baby learns to follow objects with his eyes, he will then add his hands!  First he will swat at objects.  You can help him with this by using a baby mobile or holding a soft toy just within reach so that he can use his hands to touch it.  Later, he will learn to hold the toy, and eat it!

It’s going to be okay…

When I was sent home from the hospital with my first child, I felt like I was drowning!  I was exhausted from labor and delivery, I had no idea what I was doing, and I didn’t feel qualified to be in charge of this tiny baby.  I barely knew how to change a diaper!  

Those first few weeks at home with a newborn are so difficult.  The baby doesn’t sleep, at least not when you want him to sleep!  And it feels like all he does is eat.  (For those us who breastfeed, we can begin to feel like a cow!)  

In Conclusion

But when our baby seems to recognize us, we feel the connection between us grow.  When he makes eye contact and smiles at us, we are elated!  This is the beginning of a relationship that will last the rest of our lives.  

Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. share with your momma friends!!

When do babies make eye contact and how to encourage them - Pinterest Ideas and tips

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