Dear parent, your role in your child’s eyesight development is huge! You can provide regular stimuli that will support the development of visual perception and help their sight to develop correctly. Up until the twelfth month of life, significant changes occur in the visual cortex, and this increases with even more intensity between the first and second year of life. It is a very important – even the most important – period in the development of your child’s eyesight!
What is sensory sensitivity?
Nature gave us seven senses (senses of sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch). At the stage in which a baby has to deal with more and more external stimulus, their development starts. We know the world by our sense of sight and we learn through our sense of sight. Most of the knowledge we acquire is based on visual memory.
In particular, children perceive the world through their sense of sight. There is a research method called organoleptic. A given object is tested through the senses. If all of them cooperate it is easier to test the object. Our natural aptitude for sensorial analysis develops differently in each person and at different stages of life. If all senses cooperate with each other without any “disruption” any sensations reaching them are appropriately intense, and signals received by the brain are “registered”. Sensorial sensitivity is very important. It develops often even in a few months in children. While growing up, children will use several senses at a time.
Sight develops very dynamically up to the 7th year of life.
“I cannot see what’s in front of me clearly … Mum you are so fuzzy!”
When a child is born into the world, their sight is the least-developed sense. The child sees peripherally – which means that what is clear is the thing located on the edges of an object; the centre of the object is blurred – kind of foggy. Objects close to one another intermingle. BE CAREFUL! This is why it is so important to remember about keeping an appropriate distance when showing your child black and white contrast cards – i.e. 20–30 centimetres.
In addition to this a child doesn’t distinguish colours; he or she will have difficulties perceiving richness and focusing attention on moving persons and objects.
In the first month of life their attention is drawn to clearly outlined objects, ideally with black and white patterns. You can stimulate the development of visual perception in newborns by placing contrasting pictures, and education and contrast cards near the child’s bed – not above their head (as they see peripherally). All that surrounds a newborn should be expressive but not “flashy”.
Your child’s sight in the first 2–3 months of life
“Oh, I’m making my eyes follow moving things and persons! And I’m doing it more consciously!”
A newborn will position their head towards bright light. Their vision clarity is thirty times less in comparison to an adult, but day after day their sight develops and new visual abilities appear.
A child lying on their belly starts raising their head a bit … this is a good moment to place in front of them contrast books or cards with clear shapes – this motivates them to raise their head automatically. It strengthens not only the muscles but also challenges their eyesight.
In the 4th to 5th month of life you will notice that the child will look at their hands, raising them towards toys; later they will focus their attention on more complicated shapes and bright colours. They will also focus their attention on objects moving in a curve around them at a distance of up to 30 centimetres from their face. This is a good time to place carousels with hanging patterns such as spirals, a chessboard pattern, or simply a circle with toys attached. Anytime you approach the cradle move the hanger close to the baby and then move it back. While doing this smile at your child; talk to them; do not lose contact.
“Oh! Mum is waiving at me. My toy has fallen out of my carriage and is lying on the ground …”
A six-month-old baby will watch objects and the surrounding world with increasing curiosity. What is happening in their close proximity will catch their attention in particular. The baby’s visual perspective is expanding and changing. When the child sits and watches the world around them, hand-eye coordination is being developed – they start catching toys, for example. At this stage, you can give the baby objects which keep their hands busy – big ones and ideally soft, made of nice-to-touch materials. At 6–8 months baby usually starts crawling, walking all fours. This can be used to develop their visual skills – place different contrast pictures on the floor within baby’s sight. This way you encourage your baby to move and at the same time they will perfect their motor coordination, strengthen their muscles.
At this stage your little excavator will become more and more curious. All senses receive external stimuli very intensely and the world becomes more accessible. It is very important to create a safe and friendly environment for your toddler – one which stimulates their senses. This motivates them to use their senses!
Contact with those near and dear is the most important, as having fun together strengthens bonds and stimulates proper development. An infant perceives details, watches everything more closely. They hear and recognize onomatopoeic phrases.
It is worth trying to imitate animal sounds and vehicle sounds, showing them on the contrast cards at the same time
BE CAREFUL! While your child’s sight is developing you may notice some disturbing symptoms such as “lazy” eye.
If you notice that one of your child’s eyes moves slightly sideways – to the left or to the right – do not hesitate – make an appointment with an ophthalmologist and certified orthoptist. This may be squint eye! This disorder will delay the child’s development as the child will have difficulties recognizing shapes, catching toys, crawling, walking. They will not be able to assess distance properly. They may also bump into walls and other objects in their way.
What is the cause of squint-eye?
The most common cause of squint-eye is refraction disorder, the inappropriate functioning of the muscles moving the eye-balls. Eye illnesses, nervous system illnesses and genetic factors often play a significant role. Squint-eye is when the eye-balls are not set in parallel – when baby looks at an object and only one eye is set properly; the other eye slightly deviates from the optic axis.
Typical symptoms of squint-eye
When the child is looking straight ahead, one of his/her eyes will be positioned at an angle to the line of sight, directed at his or her cheek or nose. Pictures may be blurred to sufferers of squint-eye, and sometimes doubled, as squinting makes it difficult and sometimes impossible for fusion to be developed – a process which enables the connection of the two perceived pictures into one final image.