Author: Vanessa Thai
Developmental and Behavioural Optometrist
Central Health Southside – Child Development Team
Activities To Support Your Child's Visual Development
Birth – 1st month
Newborns prefer looking at close objects 20-40 cm away as their vision is not fully developed. They are beginning to focus on light, and are particularly interested in faces and moving objects that are of high contrast.
Guide your face or move patterned objects near your baby, helping them track objects.
Vary your holding positions during feeding to support visual development in both eyes.
Approach the cot from different directions and periodically change its position for different perspectives.
Your baby will start to become aware of their hands and develop the ability to track moving objects, faces, and lights with both their eyes working in unison.
They will also engage in eye contact and respond with a smile when you smile at them. This reciprocal smile, often referred to as a social smile, is an important milestone in their social and emotional development.
Promote interaction with your baby by making eye contact and engaging through smiling, singing, and talking.
Encourage exploration by offering objects with different textures, sizes, and shapes.
Develop depth perception by placing a rattle in their hands, gently shaking it, and moving it in front of their face. This helps with perceiving depth and spatial relationships.
As babies grow, they track moving objects and focus on still ones. Colourful cot mobiles aid their visual development.
As babies observe their hand movements, they will reach for objects, including faces. They will also become more aware, shifting their gaze between people and objects.
Encourage your baby to interact with objects like cot mobiles to promote hand-eye coordination.
Play “peek-a-boo” to develop visual memory and anticipation.
Your baby’s vision will progress to notice small details and develop depth perception for judging distances. During this stage, your baby’s colour vision develops, and they respond to objects of different colours.
Ensure your baby’s eyes appear straight and aligned. If you have any concerns about their eye alignment or visual development, consult an optometrist.
Introduce brightly coloured pictures in baby books and read to them daily. Encourage reaching for favourite toys during reading sessions.
Spending time playing on the floor promotes motor skills and overall development, as well as builds hand-eye coordination.
Taking your baby outside becomes more exciting as their vision improves. Name things you see together for added visual stimulation. A baby mirror helps them develop visual awareness and self-recognition.
Encourage purposeful reaching for favourite toys to enhance their understanding of spatial relationships, distances, and hand-eye coordination. It is an exciting time as they further develop their visual abilities and explore their surroundings.
At this stage, your baby’s eyes have grown to two-thirds of their adult size and are fully coordinated, enabling effective binocular vision. They can track objects at both close (around 30cm) and far (beyond 180cm) distances.
Your baby’s visual recognition skills are improving, and they can now recognise familiar faces, especially those of family members. This recognition leads to increased engagement and excitement.
Their fine motor and grasping skills develop as they show interest in picking up small items such as cereal and raisins using their fingers and thumb.
As hand-eye coordination improves, your baby gains more control over their movements and becomes skilled at manipulating objects. They may experiment with different grasping techniques, adapting to the size and type of objects they encounter.
This stage is an exciting time for your baby’s exploration. Provide toys and objects to enhance their fine motor skills and sensory experiences.
Encourage cause and effect by placing objects on the highchair tray for them to push off and drop. This develops fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and object permanence understanding.
Engage problem-solving skills, hand-eye coordination, and spatial awareness with a container of objects to put in and take out. It also reinforces object permanence.
Self-feeding promotes independence and fine motor skills. Play games involving pointing, tossing balls, stacking blocks, and manipulating toys to develop coordination and motor skills.
These activities enhance visual-motor integration and spatial awareness.
Your child’s vision is developing well, enabling them to point at pictures in a book using their index finger. They actively search for objects, showcasing their visual perception and hand-eye coordination. They understand object permanence and can visually track and locate items, like their favourite toy in a container.
Preschoolers are drawn to pictures and enjoy engaging with visual stimuli. They make connections between spoken language and visual representations, enjoying storytelling supported by visuals. Pictures and drawings play a vital role in enhancing their understanding and engagement with stories.
Engage in activities involving drawing, looking at pictures, and connecting stories with visuals to support coordination between hearing and vision. It stimulates cognitive abilities, language development, and visual-spatial skills.
Drawing allows preschoolers to express their imagination, thoughts, and experiences visually. It develops fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and creativity.
These activities with your child foster their love for storytelling and visual learning in a fun and enriching way.
- Birth to 1st month: Newborns have a fixed focus at approximately 20 cm – ideal for seeing their mother’s face Guide their focus and vary holding positions during feeding
- Months 2-3:More aware of their hands, track moving objects, make eye contact, respond with smiles promote interaction, exploration, and depth perception
- Months 3-4: Track and reach for moving and still objects by “swiping” – an attempt to grasp but lack coordination, able to shift gaze Encourage interactions and play “peek-a-boo”
- 5th month: Notice small details and develop depth perception read colourful picture books, play on the floor together, and explore the outdoors
- Months 6-7: Better binocular vision enables better tracking and can grasp Encourage purposeful reaching and exploration
- Months 8-10: Visual recognition improves with the development of fine motor and grasping skills Provide safe toys, encourage cause and effect, and engage in problem-solving activities
- Months 11-12: Visual perception and hand-eye coordination advance actively search for objects, understand object permanence, and visually track and locate items
- Age 2-5: Enjoy engaging with visual stimuli, making connections between spoken language and visuals Engage in activities involving drawing, looking at pictures, and storytelling