Decades of research show that time spent looking at high-contrast images can contribute to the development of a baby’s visual perception, their brain’s ability to receive, interpret, and respond to visual stimuli. Until about the 5th month, babies use their eyes as the primary source for information about the world and how it works.
Once your baby’s pupils are working and their two eyes start to coordinate, they’ll be compelled to look at high-contrast images, especially from birth to 14 weeks old.
Here’s how to get the most out of high contrast
- Start with simple images about 12 inches (about the length from your hand to your elbow) away from your baby’s face. Hold the images steady and try not to switch images until your baby looks away and loses interest. You may notice your baby stares at the images for many seconds, even minutes at a time.
- When they lose interest in one, change to a new image, and eventually switch to the more complex images as their eyes grow stronger.
- You can help promote visual tracking by slowly moving an image back-and-forth horizontally in front of their face to help them practice following a moving object with their eyes: this skill is important later for reading, writing, and hand-eye coordination.
- Offer high-contrast images in the car, during tummy time, and during alert ‘play’ times for the first 14 weeks.
Learn more about the research
Chen, J. S. (2021). Beyond black and white: heibaika, neuroparenting, and lay neuroscience. BioSocieties, 16(1), 70-87.
Fantz, R. L. (1963). Pattern vision in newborn infants. Science, 140, 296–297.Hainline, L., & Lemerise, E. (1982). Infants’ scanning of geometric forms varying in size. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 33(2), 235-256.
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