So just what does your baby see at birth? Experts estimate that a newborn's vision is about 20/100, meaning he can see that teddy bear if it's within 8 to 12 inches but not if it's off in the distance. "a baby's vision is somewhat blurry, but not in the sense of looking through wax paper," says Michael X. Repka, MD, a professor of ophthalmology and pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore. "he can't see fine detail; it's more impressionistic. It's like the difference between a photograph and a Monet painting." Your baby is also particularly interested in human faces, which means he'll be excited to get a good look at you during feeding time and when you sneak up on him in the crib.
In terms of specifics, it's hard to know exactly what your child sees, but the best guess is that most newborns can't see colors. By 2 to 3 months, he'll start seeing some, but not in a full range. For Elizabeth Louk's son, this was evident at 4 months. "I noticed that Aiden was sensitive to bright colors," says the Brookneal, Virginia, mom. "I was wearing bright-colored scrubs -- I'm a medical assistant -- and my son shook his head and covered his eyes in response." And Barbara Matafeo's daughter could see bright and contrasting colors at about 3 months. "She really noticed the yellow warning sign with black print that was on her car seat," says the mom in Torrance, California. "she's been fascinated with it ever since."
Also, we gravitate toward choosing pastels for babies, but it's easier for them to pick up on primary, contrasting colors at the beginning. Surround your baby with these -- decorate his room and dress him in them.
As a baby learns more about his world, his brain begins to form connections that let him process what he sees. Specifically, development in the nerve cells helps the eyes communicate with the brain; the speed of transmission between the eyes and brain increases over time. But when does your baby start seeing the world like you do? Eight months is a good benchmark: at this point, he should be able to judge distance somewhat accurately and distinguish among softer colors like pastels.