Who can resist staring at those beautiful eyes? Parent, learn about the benefits of eye contact with baby here.
What can you read in this article?
- When can my baby start making eye contact?
- Study on eye contact communication with babies
- Benefits of eye contact with baby
You’ve been waiting for this moment for a whole nine months… probably even longer.
That first moment when you make eye contact with baby, that precious, precious moment when you and your baby gaze into each other’s eyes for what seems like an eternity…
At that moment, you see your little one’s eyes widen slightly as he focuses on your face. He calms down, he might even smile. You cannot tear your eyes away from his darling little face as you soak in every perfect little detail.
When can you expect baby to make eye contact?
As early as 4 days old, a baby can already recognize his mother’s face. But he won’t be able to hold your gaze yet, as he is still looking around in his new environment.
For the first few months, your baby’s eyes can only focus on objects that are close to him – about 8 to 15 minutes away. That’s just far enough to see the face of the person holding them, so most of the time, that’s you.
At one month, they already begin holding eye contact. However, in the first few weeks, baby needs to be calm and alert to hold his gaze at something, so don’t try to check this milestone if he is hungry, distressed or tired.
It’s completely normal for a baby’s eyes to wander and move randomly during the first couple of months as they are still learning to use their eyes, the two of them together.
By 3 months, you little one will begin to focus on faces and close objects. He may also begin to follow moving objects with his eyes and even reach out to touch it.
This is how they develop hand-to-eye coordination. After a month, your baby will be able to see your face in all its glory as they can already see a full range of colors by then. Expect your child to be so amazed by your face when that time comes.
Baby’s eyes can only focus on objects that are about 8 to 15 inches away – just far enough to see the face of the person holding them – and they typically begin holding eye contact around 1 month old.
In the beginning, the baby needs to be calm and alert to hold eye contact, so don’t try to check this milestone while your little one is hungry, distressed, or tired.
It is normal for a baby’s eyes to wander or move randomly during the first couple months of life because they are learning how to use their eyes together.
When you make eye contact with baby, have you felt that you’re actually communicating with each other, even though baby can’t talk?
That first gaze between mommy and baby is undoubtedly special. Because at that moment, it’s almost like something magical is happening – that you know each other and you have known each other forever. It sounds like the perfect love story, right? Well, it is. A mother’s love for her child is like no other.
Many more moments such as this will follow. You look deep into each other’s eyes and it’s like you know what your baby needs, even though he cannot talk yet. It’s almost like you can read his mind.
What if we tell you that you can, indeed, peer into your baby’s mind just by looking at him. It’s called eye contact communication.
When you make eye contact with your baby, amazingly, your brainwaves synchronize! This remarkable synchronization of brainwaves was recently discovered in a study conducted by scientists at the University of Cambridge.
Baby, we’re on the same page…
Based on the results of the study published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), it’s safe to say that when mommy makes eye contact with baby, their brainwaves fall into perfect alignment. What’s more, when this happens, the baby makes more effort to communicate with mom!
In the said study, scientists conducted two separate experiments where they studied the brainwaves of 36 babies (17 in the first trial and 19 in the second). The little ones wore skulls caps that measured brain electrical activity and signals – a process known as electroencephalography.
In the first round, little ones watched a recorded video of an adult singing a nursery rhyme. The adult maintained eye contact with the baby for some time, before breaking the gaze.
Towards the end of the video, the adult made eye contact again, but kept her head turned. The adult’s brainwaves had already been recorded. The second live trial was conducted to see if and how much the baby and adult’s brainwaves synced with each other.
A simple act like making eye contact with baby can boost his development in incredible ways!
During the eye contact phase of the experiment, it showed that the babies’ and adults’ brain waves were more in sync with each other. When the adult turned her head away but still kept eye contact, the babies tried to ‘communicate’ and match their brainwaves to the adults’!
The baby’s attempts at communication were measured by the number of vocalizations they made during the trial. Dr Victoria Leong, lead author of the study said:
“When the adult and infant are looking at each other, they are signaling their availability and intention to communicate with each other. We found that both adult and infant’s brains respond to a gaze signal by becoming more in sync with their partner.”
“This mechanism could prepare parents and babies to communicate, by synchronizing when to speak and when to listen, which would also make learning more effective,” she added.
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Benefits of eye contact with baby
The findings of this study show that babies are remarkably observant and very clever at picking up even the tiniest non-verbal cues that are important to their development.
Moms, what this means is that you can use even the simplest things in your day-to-day life – such as gazing at your baby – to enhance and nurture his learning process.
Between 8 to 15 months, your child develops the ability to direct your attention by looking at the desired object then back to your face. This nonverbal cue is known as triadic gaze because the child connects three things by looking with his eyes—himself, something else, and you.
A study published in Infant Behavior and Development said that early joint attention skills are a predictor of a relatively larger early vocabulary. It means that when your baby looks at you, then at an object he wants, then back to you, it shows that he understands he can influence your actions.
“What this tells us is that babies are trying to communicate before they have arrived at their first words. When they’re doing this, they are giving caregivers an opportunity to communicate back, and when the caregivers do that, that’s when word learning seems to be improved,” said Dr. Ed Donnellan, lead author of the study.
Meanwhile, Dr. Nerissa Bauer, a developmental pediatrician with You Doctors Online, said that eye contact is essential in social–emotional and language development.
“Visual development influences fine motor skills like picking up and manipulating objects,” she said. “This eventually develops into writing and other activities that require hand-eye coordination.”
The mom and baby bond has always been special and this latest discovery just goes to show exactly how incredible it really is. So go on, gaze at your little one right now, knowing that your hearts and minds are connecting as one!
Meanwhile, if you notice that your child is not making eye contact at 2 months and older, don’t hesitate to consult his pediatrician to check if there is a neurological issue.
Republished with permission from theAsianParent Singapore
The Telegraph, ScienceDaily, Romper, Pathways