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What a Newborn Really Sees

Ever wonder how much your newborn can see when he or she is born? The answer is not much. At least, not much clearly.

A fresh-from-the-womb baby can see its parents' expressions at a distance of 30 cm, according to Medical Press. That's basically the distance from a nursing newborn to its mother's face. At 60 centimeters, images get too blurry for a baby to perceive facial expressions. And now adults can get an idea of what those visuals are like at these different distances.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Institute of psychology at the University of Oslo in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Uppsala and Eclipse Optics in Stockholm, Sweden.

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"Previously, when researchers have tried to estimate exactly what a newborn baby sees, they have invariably used still photos," said professor emeritus Svein Magnussen from the Institute of Psychology. "But the real world is dynamic. Our idea was to use images in motion."

Therefor, researchers used videos so the newborns could be exposed to facial movements, which makes it easier for kids to track emotions. To conduct their tests, researchers had to combine modern simulation techniques with previous insight into how infants' vision works.

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"It's important to remember that we have only investigated what the newborn infant can actually see, not whether they are able to make sense of it," Magnussen points out.

It's easier to recognize something that moves, and this study is considered the first that offers a concrete estimate of the visual information available to a newborn baby. So if you have a baby at home, you can use moving facial expressions as a means of communication. Try it out!

Photo via Twenty20/SohaibAthamneh

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