Do newborns see shapes and faces?

One of my good friends just gave birth 3 days ago. The baby, Emma, is extremely alert and looks around wide-eyed at everything and everyone. Years ago I remember reading something where up to a certain age (few months?) babies only see shadows and reflections – they don’t actually make out faces, colors, shapes, etc.

Is this true, and does anyone know what age they start “seeing” as regular children?


I also have a few baby books, but I’m too darned lazy to get up a look through them :smiley:


Most of my books say the same thing.

My brother and his wife just squeezed out a pup, and the doctor says that along with not being able to see clearly for a few months, the baby won’t even be aware that it has arms, legs, etc. Interesting, no?

Hmm, that happens to me when I sit in this stupid computer chair for too long. :smiley:

My wife just popped one out just shy of 11 weeks ago, so I’ll give you what observations I’ve made though I don’t have any cites to back anything I say.

A couple days after birth she was awake and alert and would look around.

From about 1 week through 4 weeks she could definately see people as she would track them with her eyes although it was extremely slow an uncoordinated. For instance, you would move to the left a couple feet and about every second her eyes would move over a little until she caught sight of you again.

4 - 8 weeks - Vision got much better with her clearly recognizing human faces although I don’t think she would actually recognize people such as her mother or myself.

Within the last 2 weeks she definately knows who her mother and myself are as she will smile at us when she see’s us but not at other people she views. Her attention is very short and unless your entertaining her, she’ll normally look away. It’s usually hard to get her to look at you if she’s focusing on another person or object.

I just taught her how to stick out her tongue a couple days ago and now she’ll play with me. I stick out my tongue, she sticks out hers. Or vice-versa when she wants to play with me. Think I’m gonna try to teach her to open and close her hand next :wink:


Not a direct answer to the OP, but there is new research that shows human-face recognition in babies don’t really come together until sometime between 6 to 9 months.

Strange… my mom tells me I could recognize my dad walking up to me in the stroller on the other side of the yard and always started getting all excited when I was just a couple months old - and me being the shy thing I was would get a freaked out look and freeze if a stranger came up to me at the same age. Then again, this type of “research” also says baby’s don’t feel pain, and is used by some as justification to circumsize them sans anethetic :rolleyes:.

Hmmm…I recently read about a recent research showing that babies were able not only to distinguish between two human faces, but also between two chimp faces (the experiment was done by measuring the time during which the baby stare at a picture of a human/chimp face. It showed it was dependant on the same face having already been showed to the baby or not). The ability to distinguish between two chimp faces would later dissapear. Unfortunately, I don’t remember at what age these babies could recognize these faces/ would lose the ability to recognize chimp faces…

Off topic: people have started teaching sign language to babies. Apparently they can pick it up long before they figure out “ma ma da da.”