What can you do to help your baby develop his or her vision? This article is part 1 of a 5 part series that I will be presenting. These come directly from renouned lecturer and clinician, developmental optometrist, Dr. Gary L. Etting, Encino, California.
Activities in the first 3 months of infancy:
1. Give your baby the opportunity to use both eyes by having an unobstructed view out of both sides of the crib. If the crib is against one wall, change his position so that each eye has a chance to see out through the crib bars.
2. Make sure your baby has a chance to view patterns, especially changing patterns. Sometimes a light behind a moving mobile will cast some interesting shadows upon his wall for him to inspect. Black and white patterns on mobiles are best.
3. Speak to your baby no matter where in the room you are.
4. When you are dressing or feeding your baby make sure that he has a lot of opportunities to focus his eyes on your eyes. Remember that he can see your eyes clearly if you are approximately 8 to 10 inches away from his face.
5. Give him plenty of opportunities to follow you with his eyes, to his right, to his left, upward toward his head and downward toward his toes.
SUGGESTIONS AND GUIDELIES FOR TOYS AND GAMES
A. General Motor and Bilateral Development
1. Playfully move your baby’s arms and legs, at first each limb separately and then in various combinations.
2. Raise and lower your baby while you look into each others eyes.
3. Bounce your baby gently on the bed or on your knee.
4. Gently and playfully massage the baby’s body with baby lotion or powder.
5. Place multicolored mitts on the baby’s hands. Make sure the material is safe for him to put in his mouth.
B. Visual Focusing
1. Place a picture of a face 8 to 12 inches from the baby’s eyes. The face should be about 10 inches in diameter and the eyes in the face should be about one inch in diameter. Place the face on one side of the crib and change sides regularly until the age of approximately two months. Then hang it above the middle of the crib. Make sure that you place the face so that the baby has an opportunity to look toward each side of his body.
2. Hang a patterned piece of material on the crib with a bell attached to it.
3. Provide multicolored objects for your baby to look at. Place the objects in variousåÊpositions within his view. Give him opportunities to look in different directions.
4. Leave a night light on at night, so your baby will have something to look at if he awakens.
5. Make sure that he doesn’t face only one side of his crib or a wall thus using one eye allåÊthe time. Change his position or that of the crib occasionally.
6. Hold your baby on opposite sides of your body while feeding him so that he gets a chance to look with each eye.
C. Visual Tracking
1. Hold your face about 8 to 12 inches in front of your baby and talk and sing to him while you slowly move to one side of his body and then the other.
2. Take a large patterned object (such as a doll or a balloon) with a bell attached, and move itåÊin front of his face, approximately 8 to 10 inches in front of his eyes. Move the object åÊslowly from side to side.
3. Make a bridge between the two sides of the crib and attach a multicolored object to it that can be made to swing.
4. Place a roly-poly doll approximately 8 to 12 inches in front of your baby’s eyes and set it moving.
D. Visual-Auditory Coordination
1. Place noisy rattles with different textures in his hands so that he can shake them and then place them in his mouth.
2. Put squeaky rubber toys in his hands.
E. Eye-Hand Coordination
1. Make a bridge between the two sides of the crib and hang objects there that will invite swatting. Make sure that the objects change patterns or make noise as they move.
2. Hang a cradle gym across the crib.
3. A good mobile to hang over the crib is a picture of a smiling face.
4. Black and white mobiles provide greater stimulation than colored mobiles at this stage of development.
You can also learn more at the College of Optometrists in Vision Development.
Dan L. Fortenbacher, O.D, FCOVD