“Newborns can see, but everything is very blurry for them at first,” says Tanya Sitter, an optometrist in Olds, Alta. Your baby can make out light, movement and shapes, but can only focus on objects that are between eight to 12 inches away from him, which is about the distance to your face when he’s being held during feedings. That’s why faces quickly become an infant’s favourite thing to stare at. He’ll get to know every detail of his parents’ faces right away, a process that plays a key role in bonding during those early days and weeks.
Nicole Manek, a new mom in Toronto, noticed that her three-week-old son, Leon, has found something else he loves to stare at as well: the wallpaper in his nursery. She decorated it in a space theme, not knowing how much he’d enjoy the white stars on a black background. High contrast patterns, especially black and white, will be easiest for newborns to see, says Sitter. “They can distinguish some colours within the first few weeks, but we don’t know exactly how much they can make out.”