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Why Do Babies Stare at Me? Understanding Your Baby's Vision

Updated: May 10

As a parent, it can feel unnerving when your baby stares at you unblinkingly. What are they seeing and why are they so fixated? Rest assured—this odd yet endearing behavior isn’t just some weird phase that babies go through—it has an important purpose in helping them develop their brain and vision!

In this article, we'll provide more insight into your baby's vision, why they stare, and how you can help support healthy development.

In this article:

How your baby's eyes work


Two to six months

Six months to one year

Why babies stare

Exploring their world

Seeking visual stimulation

Initiating social interaction

Brain development

What catches a baby's attention?

Certain types of faces

Moving objects

Distinctive objects

When to be concerned about your baby staring

FAQs about baby staring

Q: Why does my baby stare at strangers?

Q: Why does my baby stare at nothing?

Q: Why does my baby stare and smile?

The Takeaway

How your baby's eyes work

This section briefly describes some vision milestones within a baby's first year. Just remember that every baby is different and may develop visual abilities differently depending on their genetics and early experiences.

To learn more about why milestones are so important, check out #MilestonesMatter: Don't Underestimate Developmental Monitoring.


Newborn babies can see immediately after birth, but their eyesight is far from fully developed. They are not able to effectively control their eye movements, so you may notice that your baby's eyes cross or drift outward. This is only temporary in the vast majority of cases.

As a result, newborns primarily focus on things that are within eight to 12 inches of their face. Anything farther away will appear blurry.

Moreover, newborns initially have poor contrast sensitivity. This means that they can more easily see high-contrast items (such as the black and white pictures on many baby toys). They have trouble seeing and distinguishing objects that are similar in brightness.

Two to six months

Around two to three months, your baby's visual coordination improves and they should begin to be able to track moving objects.

By five or six months, your baby should have developed better depth perception, so they will be able to see their world in three dimensions. This helps them judge distance and reach for objects.

Around this time they will also have developed good color vision, although it is not as sensitive as an adult's. They can distinguish between similar colors but will probably prefer bright colors.