Newborn babies have blurry vision, but as babies get older, their eyesight gets better, and they start to look around. You’ve probably noticed your little one staring at you intensely. They might look around at interesting things in the room, but once they find something or someone to hold their interest, babies have a tendency to stare.
As a parent, you probably wonder what’s holding your baby’s interest. Is there something specific that your baby likes? Should you worry about your baby staring? At Mommy Care Kit, we want to help you learn about your little one’s development so that you know what to expect.
Staring is a normal part of your little one’s development. They relate to the world around them, just like we do. Babies have a lot of things to look at and see that they’ve never seen before. Let’s learn more about why babies stare.
Why Does My Baby Stare?
Babies have a lot to learn throughout their life. Like adults, babies learn by processing information through their senses, including their eyes.
Adults learn to tune out their senses’ unnecessary information, so to speak. We’ve seen a lot of things and know the way the world looks and works. We've already figured it all out.
Babies, on the other hand, haven’t seen a whole lot. Their senses are still on high alert in a way. Your little one is taking in a lot of information to learn about the people and places around them. Staring is one of the main ways that they do that.
Babies stare to collect information. They’re observing the world around them and then putting the things they learn together like a giant puzzle.
Why Do Babies Stare at Their Parents?
You’ve probably noticed that one of the main things your baby stares at is you or your partner. One of the things that they most like to do is look at your face.
Eye contact is one of a baby’s biggest milestones in their social development. It’s also one of the first milestones that a baby will reach. It means that your little one is beginning to recognize you as their mom or dad.
It’s also a way to communicate. Babies learn about facial expressions and can start to make connections between the people in their lives and their relationships. They figure out which voices belong to who.
Babies can also learn how to interact with their surroundings by watching you. They can learn to recognize facial expressions, like fear or alarm. If they see you with an alarmed expression while they’re exploring, they’re more likely to hesitate before continuing.
Although there are many reasons for your baby to stare at you, the main reason babies stare at their parents is because their parents provide comfort and are a safe haven.
Why Do Babies Watch Strangers?
Now that we know why babies watch their parents so closely, why do babies stare at strangers? These people are unknown to your little one, so they don’t need to look at them for guidance.
Even though babies may not know someone, as long as they are around their parents, studying strangers can help babies learn more about emotions and socialization.
It may also be because the stranger has a distinctive or unusual feature. A bold color or a fun pattern can catch a baby’s eye. If something’s interesting, your baby will probably stare at it.
What Are the Milestones Associated With Sight?
When a baby is born, they can’t see very well. Babies have a lot of changes to go through during their first year.
It’s debated as to when babies can recognize their parents. Some studies indicate that parental recognition can happen a few days after birth, but others indicate that babies recognize their parents when they are closer to two months.
Once your baby is around six or 10 weeks, you may notice that your baby is getting better at focusing their attention on you. You may also notice a smile or two around this time.
Your baby should get better at following you with their eyes at three months. They’ll be able to watch you as you do things around the room or follow a toy with their eyes. They can hold their gaze for longer periods of time.
When your baby is between nine and 11 months old, they should start to understand how to use their eyes as an adult would. Your baby will pay more attention to the things around them.
What Should I Do When My Baby Stares at Me?
If you notice your little one watching you, it can be a great time for a little interaction. Eye contact is one way to help develop a baby’s social understanding. When you see your little one looking at you, start interacting.
You can smile, talk, sing, and gesture. Interacting with your baby teaches social interaction. It also shows your little one how much you love and care for them.
Hugging or cuddling with your baby after they initiate eye contact can also help to reinforce your baby’s attachment. A touch is a powerful form of contact, which is one of the reasons that skin-to-skin contact is encouraged after giving birth.
When your little one gets older, interacting with your baby when they make eye contact could help encourage your little one to laugh, especially if you tickle them.
Is There a Reason My Baby Looks Away Sometimes?
Sometimes when you’re interacting with your baby, you might notice them look away or try to avoid eye contact. Babies are absorbing a lot of information, and sometimes, it’s a bit overwhelming.
Looking away or staring into space might also mean that your little one is overwhelmed. There might be too many things going on, so your baby has difficulty processing all that information at once. Sometimes, your little one might just need a break. Give them the break they need.
There are other signs that your baby is becoming overwhelmed. Your baby may suddenly get fussy or become very quiet. They could seem sleepy. The easiest way to help your little one if they’re feeling overwhelmed is to take them to a familiar, safe place to rest. Rocking or giving your baby a pacifier can help soothe your baby.
Although interaction is important for your baby’s development, it’s just as important for your little one to explore and interact with the world on their own with proper supervision, of course. If your baby is showing signs that they want to be put down or allowed to explore, give them the freedom to explore their world under your watchful eyes.
When Should I Be Concerned?
Sometimes, avoiding eye contact can be a sign of some other health issues. Staring without responding to social interaction, like a smile, can also be a sign of a developmental issue.
You may notice that your little one is avoiding eye contact, even when you’re feeding them or smiling at them. They might also have difficulty copying facial expressions or following things with their eyes.
Sometimes a social delay is a sign of a more serious problem. Put your fears to rest and reach out to your baby’s pediatrician to get the answers you need.
Encouraging Your Little One To Learn and Grow
It might sound a little odd, but staring is a key part of your baby’s development. Babies are constantly learning. Staring is one of the many ways that a baby can learn.
They learn about emotions, how to interact with people, and how to mimic facial expressions. If your baby is staring at you, it’s important for you to interact with them. Give your infant the attention they need. Not only does it help with their social development, but it also aids in strengthening the bond between you and your little one.
If you’re an expectant mother and you want to learn more about babies and pregnancy, you can check out more on our blog here.