Development of Vision and Child

All development starts, when the child lies flat on its stomach. Consequently, it is important to place the child on the stomach, when awake from birth. At the beginning, the child can only lie on the stomach for a few minutes, but already after a few months it can lie in this position for a longer period. If the child dislikes the stomach position, it is often because the labyrinthine organ of the middle ear is insufficiently stimulated. Avoid placing the child in sitting posture until the child is able to sit on its own. Every time you place the child in a cradle seat, a walking chair or stack it up with pillows, you will put a damper on its natural development. (All numbers are approximate numbers as these vary from child to child)

0-2 Weeks After Birth:
The hereditary vision reflex makes the child focus for a short moment. The eyes will focus on sharp light, shining objects and faces. The eyes do not necessarily work together and occasional strabismus often occurs. The child is capable of fixating with one eye at a time and focus.

The eyes and the head move together. Contrasts like black and white are best seen, as the cells in the eyes' retina perceiving colours and details are not yet complete. The child will try to lift its head and nod when lying on the floor.

The Moro reflex, which makes the child spread out the arms, when it e.g. is frightened, is often elicited.

The catching reflexes in hands and feet will elicit ,when a finger is run horizontally in the palm or by a pressure right in the middle behind the front pad of the foot.

2-6 Weeks:
Faces are followed and the child can focus at a distance of app. 20 cm.
When lying on the back, the child can lift the head from the pillow for several minutes at a time. The child can slowly straighten out due to one of the primitive reflexes, the tonic labyrinthine reflex. This reflex must be elicited a number of times to be integrated. This is important,so that the child develops a good head lift.

The child will now start to see things out of the corner of the eye and can survey more than just the food and a face at a time. The two visual fields from the right and left eye respectively must be co-ordinated. If not, the child will develop double vision ,and the brain will try to solve the problem by either creating strabismus or a lazy eye.

At this stage, the child cannot yet control adaptability. As a result of that,the child is best seeing moving objects. If the child looks into a room outside the area ,where it can focus, everything will be misty and blurred. Movements and light, e.g. a lamp, a window or a moving curtain, will catch the child's attention.

6-8 Weeks:
The child can now follow a yellow or red object at a distance of app. 20 cm.

8-12 Weeks:
The eyes start to move more independently of head movements. They follow moving objects or persons and can make the first pursuit movements. The eyes work more together and will carefully study the face of the person talking to the child.

The small babbling sounds develop into regular babbling conversation.

The child will start to grasp for objects, at the beginning somewhat at random. It also discovers its hands and will study and suck them.

At the beginning, the child smiles, when it feels well. Gradually, the smile will become more conscious and easier to evoke.

3 Months:
The child can learn to make the eyes direct towards the same location, and it is gradually possible to keep eye contact for a longer period of time. The child likes to study faces and can recognize its father, mother and brothers and sisters, if any.

When lying on the stomach, the child can lift the head, lean on the forearms and look about itself.

From the head lift one of the primitive reflexes is developed, the symmetric tonic neck reflex (STNR). This reflex is important in order to start crawling at a later stage of development.

3-6 Months:
When the child sits, it looks at its hands, the feeding bottle, the food etc. Gradually, it can also observe objects at longer distances. The child is generally more awake.

The child begins to control the eyes' adaptability and is able to focus on stationary objects. It will, however, still prefer to look at bright colours, sharp outlines and strong contrasts. The child cannot yet recognize objects seen from different angles. It requires experience to interpret ,the picture made by the signals from the retina.

The hands are opened, and the child will grasp for objects within reach like objects on the dressing table, the activity stand etc. At first, the child will grasp somewhat unsteadily, but will gradually become good at holding e.g. the rattle, changing it from hand to hand and putting it in the mouth. The first eye-hand co-ordination will, together with the tactile sense of the mouth, help the vision to see sizes and shapes.

From being able to lean on the elbows when lying on the stomach, the child will now work its way up on stretched arms. The asymmetric tonic neck reflex (ATNR) will make the right arm bend, when the child turns the head to the right. Hereby, the arm is used to push away making the child roll on the back. Numerous rolls from stomach to back will elicit the reflex and integrate it. If the reflex is not integrated, it will be difficult to roll from back to stomach, as the reflex will inhibit this movement instead of stimulating it.

If a small child is pulled up by the arms, the head will follow, when the head-lifting reflex is fully developed. A non-integrated tonic labyrinthine reflex (TLR) can, however, prevent this.

When lying on the back, the child will begin to grasp for the feet making the back press towards the pad. Hereby, one of the primitive reflexes, the spinal galant reflex, will make the hip swing to one side, and the child can roll from back to stomach. In upright position, the child will try to stand lightly on the legs. At the end of the period, the child will begin to make hopping movements.

6-9 Months:
The child turns the eyes inwards, when it watches hands or toys. It is very interested in its own reflection and spends a long time studying it.

The eyes make more movements independently of the head. At the same time, the child can study the surroundings for a long period at a time. It will also start to recognize the same object seen from different angles. The stereoscopic vision begins to develop making the child register elevations, thresholds etc., that may be potential obstacles.

The child's vision is now 8,000 times better than at birth, and the child will prefer to look at more complex objects, which are examined more carefully. It will turn the head or shift position to get a better view. The child will consciously start to imitate faces and noises.

At the beginning of the period, the child learns to move the arms separately instead of simultaneously. The sitting posture bends forward, but gradually the posture will become right ,and the child will learn to sit without support. Later, it will start to roll, then worm its way and try to crawl, however, often backwards. When the child moves for a toy, it will use its vision to decide, how far away the toy is ,and gradually it will learn to estimate distance.

The babbling sounds will become more varied with different intensity. At the end of the period, the child will babble da-da, ma-ma etc.
Often the child will be reserved or directly afraid of new people or things and will experience its first separation anxiety from the parents.

9-12 Months:
The child will examine visual toys, that it can hold itself. Crawling has developed the binocular vision so well, that the child can start seeing depth in things. It also begins to look for objects ,that are dropped. The child senses ,that objects disappearing out of the visual field, reappear somewhere ,and soon it will start looking for the lost objects.

At this age, the child begins to stand up by means of the furniture. At the beginning of the period, the child will use the symmetric tonic neck reflex (STNR) to push itself so much up on the arms, that it ends in a position with the behind on the bent legs. Then the mentioned reflex must be integrated to make the child crawl. This is done by 'rocking' on hands and knees without getting anywhere. If this STNR-reflex is not integrated, but continues to dominate, the child will often start pushing itself forward on the behind or start walking like a bear.

Crawling is imperative for the eyes' ability to cross the centre line, as the child alternately focuses on the right and left hand. This ability is essential to learn reading without skipping words at the middle of a line.

At this stage of development, the child can walk when aided. If the symmetric tonic neck reflex is not integrated, (cf. 3-6 months), the child will often tumble to one side, if it turns the head to one of the sides, as the child will bend the arms and legs of the same side, that it is looking to.
The child can start benefiting from looking in picture books with ordinary everyday things. It will crawl for its favourite toy, when it sees it. The child will also react visually to smiles or familiar voices.

The child will pick up things between finger and thumb. It can imitate small, well-known words, knows its own name and understands a little message. Furthermore, it can also show joy of the parents by snuggling up to them.

1-1 Year:
The child uses both hands and controls them visually. It will often hold objects close to the eyes to examine them. The child's vision is almost as good as the vision of an adult.

It can point at things and say, 'look' and 'what's that?'. It will also look for and identify pictures in books.

Now the child walks by itself. At first, with a so-called wide-base and unsteady gait, but soon with more grace and good balance. If the gait continues to be unsteady, it could among other things be due to lacking integration of the foot's catching reflex or the Babinski reflex, which makes the foot hold on to the pad with the toes and the big toe stick out.

If the child often falls without setting off, but almost lands like 'a sack of potatoes', insufficiently developed fall reflexes could cause it.

The child also climbs furniture. It likes to eat with its fingers. Later, it will learn to use a spoon, but it will spill a lot.

The child can build a tower of two to three bricks and throw a ball.

Verbally, the child is familiar with the names in the family, it understands many words and can say various small words.

1-2 Years:
The child will occasionally examine things visually, without touching it.

It can run stiffly on flat feet, walk up stairs when aided and learn to crawl backwards down the stairs. It can kick to a large ball and hop when holding someone by the hands.

The child enjoys grabbling with heavy things and will push the chair or the stool to climb up to e.g. the tap. Furthermore, the child can eat with a spoon and a fork, but can also use a fork to butter. It is great fun to help getting undressed.

Verbally, the child will often repeat words, others just have said. The vocabulary is app. 200-300 words, and the child will start to use two to three word long sentences.

2-3 Years:
The child likes to watch moving things e.g. a wheel. It will observe its own hands when drawing. At this stage, it explores visually and 'controls' its own gait and climbing. It will also watch and imitate other children.

The child can now start to keep the colours within the edges of the paper and can 'read' picture books. It will hold the book correctly and turn over one leaf at a time.

At this stage, the child walks naturally, often runs and can hop on flat feet. At the end of the period, it will learn to ride a tricycle. A large ball can now be caught with the arms.

The child can undress and will help getting dressed. It wants to do many things on its own, but at the same time it still finds it difficult to choose.

The vocabulary is app. 800-1,000 words ,and the child will start to use three word long sentences or longer sentences. Furthermore, it will start using pronouns like 'your' and 'my'. The child can tell about its experiences, and you can have a conversation with the child.

3-4 Years:
At this stage of development, the child will hold its head and eyes close to the page of a book when examining it or 'reading'.

The arms will wave about, when the child walks, and it can run, climb, walk on stairs and hop. A large ball can now be caught with the hands.

When eating the child now holds both spoon and fork with the fingertips instead of using the entire hand.

Verbally, the child is familiar with a variety of words and will inflict them correctly. When playing ,long monologues are heard. The child can put words to its thoughts ,and you can have a real conversation with the child, who also listens.


4-5 Years:
The child uses eyes and hands well together and is still improving. It will move and roll its eyes in a significant manner.

At this stage of development, it draws and names pictures. The child holds the pencil by its thumb and finger and draws within the lines of e.g. a colouring book. It can also cut and glue reasonably well on simple pictures.

The child imitates/copies simple shapes and some letters. Eye-hand co-ordination is so developed ,that the child can place small objects in small holes.

Visually, the child notices and observes the surroundings. It will tell about places, objects or persons, that it has seen other places. Furthermore, it will show increased visual interest of new objects and places.

The child can now run properly and hop forward with feet together. It can catch a small ball with both hands and uses overhand throw. Furthermore, it can dress itself and button large buttons. At this stage, it becomes clear, whether the child becomes right or left-handed.

The child's pronunciation and way of forming sentences is similar to adult pronunciation and sentence structure. The child can tell about previous experiences, it listens and will often ask 'why' and 'how'?

5-6 Years:
Now the child can make asymmetrical movements with the body, stand and hop on one leg. It also learns to ride a two-wheeled bicycle, whistle and catch a ball on the rebound, when thrown towards a wall.

The child can make its own sandwiches, zip up and tie knots and soon also bows.

Towards the age of six, the child starts to hold the pencil like an adult with the forearm resting on the table. The child speaks fluently, and the sentence structure has correct endings and inflictions.

The child's vision is ready for school:
When the child starts going to school, it is essential to be sure that he/she is ready for school.In addition to all the social skills, that among other things,involves the ability of receiving a collective message,it is also essential to be sure that, the child's motor co-ordination and vision are ready,so that he/she can sit still a whole day at school and visually learn from a book and a black-board.

Visual skills:

  • The eyes should be able to move, without the head moving.
  • You should be able to make a squint, while counting slowly to 10.
  • You should be able to look at letters in a book and afterwards focus the text on TV clearly.Subsequently, you should be able to look down at the letters in the book again and focus clearly straight away.
  • The eyes should be able to follow a ballpen,which is passed around the visual field.-there must not be irregular movements or signs of the eyes not directing towards the same object.


Motor guidelines:

  • You should be able to tie your own laces.
  • You should be able to jump like a lout.
  • You should not be able to see mirror motions e.g., when the child cuts with a pair of scissors, the mouth should not'be cutting at the same time'.
  • You should know the difference between right and left.
  • You should be able to stand with your legs together and closed eyes for one minute without swaying.
  • You should be able to catch a ball with both hands and only slightly curved arms-do not catch it close to the body.