Have you ever noticed a baby staring at you, so intently, that it has made you wonder, what have they seen that is so interesting?
After a baby is born it goes through many stages of development, as it adjusts to its new surroundings. Objects such as lights, ceilings, and your face can seem to provide babies with endless entertainment.
You may catch a baby staring at you for a long time, or staring off into space, and wonder what is happening inside their little head.
There are many reasons why babies stare at people, and it may not be one of their parents that have caught their eye. It is natural for a baby, learning about their new world, to be interested in other people, especially if you step into their line of sight.
A baby’s eyesight is still developing and they are often drawn to people with interesting faces, and colors with high contrast such as black and white. If you happen to be wearing monochrome colors, don’t be surprised to find yourself the object of a young baby’s attention.
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How to react when a baby stares
When you find yourself caught in the intent gaze of a young baby, take this as an opportunity to smile and acknowledge them. Making eye contact is one of the first great achievements for a baby to make and is the first step in them developing their communication skills.
A baby learns language not only by listening to the sounds around them but also by watching the shapes you make with your mouth as you speak. Babies also learn facial expressions from observing people and mimicking them.
Think about how often you may judge a person’s mood based on their facial expression. This is no different for a young baby who is learning how to fit in with the people around them.
So when you find a baby staring at you, be friendly and warm towards them. They will be watching you and your reactions in order to learn how to react themselves.
Is staring normal for a baby?
Staring at objects or faces is normal for babies and part of their healthy development. It is a good sign that they are learning more about their surroundings, and their cognitive functions are advancing.
A baby will stare intently at their parents or primary caregivers as they begin to recognize your face and associate the sound of your voice with your face. This is all part of a baby learning how to recognize and remember the important people in their lives.
When a baby is born they can only see things that are very close to their face and their ability to focus on items that are in the distance has not developed. For babies under the age of two months, you will likely see them focus on items that are next to their faces or within arm’s length.
As babies grow their eyesight expands and they are able to recognize objects and people that are further away from them.
While a baby’s eyesight grows you may notice that newborn babies are fascinated by the following things:
If you catch a baby staring at you, you should take it as a compliment as it is known for babies to be drawn to attractive people. Research has shown that babies are particularly drawn to faces that adults consider attractive.
However a baby cannot know what society has deemed to be attractive, so if you see a baby staring at you it may be because your features are pleasing or you have a very interesting face to that particular baby.
Another reason that you might find a baby staring at you, could be because you have interesting features or a striking style. For example, do you have brightly colored hair? A beard or glasses?
Interesting features, such as colored eyes, bold lip color, piercings, or tattoos can all be intriguing for a young baby and they are likely to stare at you if you have something interesting that has caught their eye.
The sound of your voice
A young baby will be attracted by the sound of your voice, especially if your voice is particularly soothing, as their vision is limited.
A baby’s ability to hear is far more advanced than their ability to see when they are born so if you are talking and notice a baby turn their head towards you, it might be the sound of your voice that has drawn their attention to you.
Humans are instinctively drawn to movement, and for a baby, staring at something like a ceiling fan or a moving mobile is very stimulating for them. Staring at moving objects is part of a baby’s sensory development, and from the age of 2 months, babies can track a moving object.
By 3 months they may even be able to coordinate their hands with their eyes to reach out and swat a nearby object. Therefore spinning ceiling fans become an instant obsession for babies to look at.
Young babies are drawn to contrasting colors as their eyesight is still progressing.
For young babies their eyesight is limited, however, they can see bright colors or contrasting colors such as black and white, much clearer in the first few months of their lives. Black and white geometric cards are a popular learning aid for young babies and can help them to develop their focus and eyesight.
Staring into space
For a young baby, there are many things to learn about, experience, and explore in their new surroundings.
However, if you see a baby simply staring into space, they may be processing some of the things they have seen earlier in the day. Being awake can be very overwhelming for a small baby, whose brain is still growing and they may need to take breaks from looking at objects that are stimulating.
Looking away at a wall or staring into space also might be a sign that your baby is tired and ready for a nap.
How can I encourage eye contact with my baby?
Encouraging eye contact with your baby is very important as it helps to bond with your baby and helps them to recognize you as their parent and a safe person to trust.
You can encourage eye contact by lying down next to your baby with your faces close together. Sing or gently talk to your baby while looking at them and allow them to turn their gaze towards you naturally.
Talk to them about what you can see and where you are, they will likely be fascinated by your face and may even explore by touching your nose, eyes, or lips as you speak.
Be mindful of your baby’s cues if they get tired or restless and move on to another activity after a few minutes. Young babies can get overwhelmed quickly and need time to process new information and experiences.
Should I worry if my baby stares too much?
As outlined in this article it is normal for a young baby to stare at people or objects that they find interesting. There is a great deal of growth and learning going on inside their brains and staring at things is a sign that their brains are processing the things they have seen.
However, if your baby shows signs of the following habits you should consider speaking to a pediatrician:
- They are unable to make eye contact with primary caregivers after the age of 2 months.
- They are unable to track moving objects after the age of two months
- Their eyes appear to look crossed for long periods
- They are constantly staring at objects or into space past the age of 4 months.
Remember all babies develop at different rates and the above habits are not necessarily a cause for concern, but are worth getting checked by a medical professional.
For a new baby, the big world is both an exciting and overwhelming place to be, and they watch what other people do to learn themselves. What one baby finds interesting and stimulating another baby may find upsetting or not interesting at all.
The way babies behave and what they find entertaining changes from day to day, and you might find your baby transfixed by the ceiling fan or light one day and then not notice it the next. This is all part of their development and as they grow you will notice many wonderful quirks.
However, if you do notice that babies tend to stare at you when you are around them, consider it as a compliment that you are interesting enough to hold their attention.