Babies are never too young to enjoy books. In fact, looking at books with babies is highly recommended by experts from as early as birth.
Until they are 6 months old, a baby’s eyesight is not yet fully developed. Their focus, depth of perception and range of colours is extremely limited. Until they are 3-4 months old, their range of vision is only around 6 to 8 inches – fortunately this is the perfect distance for your baby to look into your eyes and practise focussing on your face when you’re feeding or cuddling. Scientists think this is a deliberate biological trait to encourage bonding and attachment, whilst your baby feels safe in their parents’ arms – unaware of the huge new world around them. So the favourite thing for your baby to practise focussing on is you!
However, babies also need stimulation and entertainment – and as much as we’d like to, it’s impossible to gaze at your baby 24 hours a day. Scientists agree that young babies have a very limited range of colour. From birth their vision is limited to black, white and possibly shades of grey, then from 3-4 months they start to develop their colour vision, starting with red. All experts agree that if you show a baby a high contrast, black and white image – it will immediately capture their attention and your baby will become deeply absorbed. Imagine seeing such exciting and interesting new shapes and images in such a blurry world!
Books with simple, black and white images with clean, bold lines are perfect for young babies. Black and white books for babies help to develop their optic nerves, encourage cognitive development, and so they’ll gradually learn about the world around them, without feeling over-stimulated.
“Anything with very obvious contrast – such as black and white edges and lines is an optimal stimulant for the visual system. This type of stimulation basically gets the system up and running.” Professor Usha Goswami, Director of Centre of Neuroscience in Education, Cambridge University.
So with a black and white baby book, snuggle up close, or sit your baby on your lap, and look at the black and white pictures together. Talk to your baby – tell them all about the pictures to help them understand what they’re seeing and even take their hand and point