Initiate eye contact to encourage your newborn to look into your eyes.

How to Encourage Eye Contact in Newborns

by Barbie Carpenter

Bonding with your newborn can occur in a variety of ways, perhaps none easier than making regular eye contact with him. Doing so isn't difficult -- you want to admire your baby and study her features anyway. Fortunately, eye contact with your newborn is easy for her as well. Newborns prefer looking at faces rather than other shapes and objects, with their favorite area being the eyes, according to WebMD.

1 Hold your baby about 8 to 15 inches away from your face. Newborns can see most sharply in this range, according to WebMD. Stare directly into his eyes, and wait for his eyes to connect with yours. He might study your face before finding your eyes, which he prefers because newborns like round shapes with light and dark borders.

2 Look at your newborn, and move your head slowly from side to side. She will want to fixate on your eyes, and this exercise challenges her to track a moving object, an early milestone for many newborns. If she cannot connect with your eyes, slow your head movements down until she does.

3 Connect with your baby during feedings. Your newborn is in an ideal position to look up at your adoring eyes when you are feeding him, whether you are bottle feeding or breastfeeding. While he's eating, make continuous eye contact with him. Wait for him to reciprocate and make eye contact with you.

4 Talk or sing to your newborn to get his attention. When your baby is alert, move closely to her and talk and sing to her. She will react to your voice and once she sees your face, she likely will want to make eye contact with her mom.

5 Connect with your baby during baths and diaper changes. This one-on-one time represents an ideal opportunity to make eye contact with your baby. Move your face within about 12 inches of your newborn, staring into his eyes, during these mundane moments to make them memorable.

Tip

  • If you're concerned about your baby's inability to make eye contact, talk to your pediatrician. During their early weeks of life, most newborns can fixate on objects that are about 12 inches away from their faces. If she isn't connecting with your eyes, especially during feedings, tell your pediatrician at your next well-baby checkup.

About the Author

Barbie Carpenter worked as a technical writer and editor in the defense industry for six years. She also served as a newspaper feature page editor and nationally syndicated columnist for the Hearst Corp. Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Florida and a graduate certificate in professional writing from the University of Central Florida.

Photo Credits

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