Every one of the five senses is an entry into the mind of your baby. Your voice can be heard, your scent smelt, your touch felt and anything put into your baby’s mouth can be tasted. Your baby’s vision at birth is the least developed of the senses and visual input during the first few months of your baby’s life can have a profound effect on the developing nervous system.
The retina is in the back of the eye and it detects light. At birth it is not yet fully developed and your newborn baby is only able to detect distinction between dark and light and black and white, whereas a healthy adult retina can distinguish multiple shades of colour and light. So whilst you can see all the beautiful pastel shades you may have decorated the nursery with, your newborn may only be seeing them as one colour all blurred into each other.
Visual stimulation helps a baby’s brain develop as when your baby receives input from all its senses it causes the nerve cells to multiply and form numerous connections with other nerve cells. Therefore with visual stimulation the retina flourishes, the optic nerve grows and the part of the brain that deals with vision also flourishes and continues to develop in leaps and bounds.
The best way to stimulate your baby visually is by using black and white or contrasting light and dark colours. Soft pastel shades may look lovely to you but visually they do very little for your child. Research has shown that the contrast between black and white registers so much more powerfully on a baby’s retina which results in a stronger visual signal being sent to your baby’s brain. These stronger indicators result in faster brain and visual development.
You can achieve such stimulation by using black and white in bold designs like stripes and geometric shapes by way of various items available including bedding, pictures, play mats, cuddly toys, soft books etc…The invention of tablet computers and e-readers means you can even get baby development ebooks such as Noah's Ark Black & White Baby Development e-book.
When your baby is awake and the eyes are open, baby will like to look or even stare at what grabs his/her attention. Your baby is able to focus on items that are approximately 8 to 12 inches away from his/her face. So whether you are interacting directly with your child or using products such as a baby bouncer to keep baby safe and secure whilst you take 5 minutes “me time” for a cuppa, these are the perfect times to introduce black and white products such as those mentioned. Try to keep them within 12 inches reach from your child. You will see your baby’s eyes fixate on the product and be fascinated by it.
You don’t need to limit your baby’s visual stimulation to just their nursery decoration or toys and games. Whilst this seasons in look may not be to go outside the house dressed from head to foot in black, white or bold coloured stripes, spots and other various vibrant designs, it would certainly help your child if whilst in the comfort of your own home you can look past your fashion sense and on occasion wear something like a T-Shirt that does conform to the visual needs of your baby. You may think you look silly, but in the long run your child will definitely benefit from and thank you for it.