From birth, babies use their vision to explore and learn. They watch and learn about everything happening around them. Their visual development helps prepare them to look at and reach for a toy, to crawl and to take their first step.

Children don’t often complain about how they see and may not even be aware they have difficulties with their vision. Developmental milestones let you know how your child’s vision is developing as they grow. You can use this list to help you decide if you need to talk to a health care professional about your child’s vision.

The checklist can help you monitor your child’s eye health and development.

  • Stares at surroundings when awake
  • Briefly looks at bright lights/objects
  • Blinks in response to light
  • Eyes and head move together
  • Eyes glance from one object to another
  • Eyes follow a moving object/person
  • Stares at caregiver’s face
  • Begins to look at hands, food and bottle
  • Eyes move to inspect surroundings
  • Eyes move to look for source of sounds
  • Swipes at or reaches for objects
  • Looks at more distant objects
  • Smiles and laughs when they see you
  • Smiles and laughs
  • Eyes turn inward as objects move close to the nose
  • Watches activities in surroundings for longer time periods
  • Looks for a dropped toy
  • Visually inspects objects and people
  • Creeps toward favourite toy
  • Looks at and reaches for an object or toy at the same time
  • Looks at simple pictures in a book
  • Points to objects or people
  • Looks for and points to pictures in books
  • Looks where they are going when walking and climbing

Talk to Your Health Care Professional Immediately If You Notice Any of the Following:

Changes to Eye Health


  • Whitish or cloudy appearance inside the pupil (example: in photos, the centre of the eye looks white)
  • Swollen or encrusted eyelids
  • Excessive tearing when not crying
  • Bumps, sores or styes on or around the eyelids

Difficulties with Eye Position or Movement


  • Child does not watch or follow an object with the eyes by three months
  • Eye movements are frequently “wiggling,” “drifting,” “jerky” or uncoordinated
  • Eyes are misaligned (example: eye turns, crossing of the eyes) in babies over three months of age
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Drifting of one eye when looking at objects so that eyes do not move together

Signs of a Possible Vision Concern

Your child:

  • Does not follow or track a moving object or person
  • Does not look at and reach for a toy or object at the same time (by two years of age)
  • Squints, closes or covers one eye when looking at objects
  • Turns or tilts their head when looking at objects
  • Blinks or squints to see better
  • Avoids or seems sensitive to bright lights
  • Needs to sit very close to a screen or book to see it