When Can a Baby See Light in the Womb?

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A mother’s first pregnancy always fills her up with concerns and questions about her growing baby. From constant checkups with the doctor to baby-proofing the house, soon-to-be parents have a lot on their plates.

That’s why it’s good to know that at the end of the day, you can tell your baby all about it even before it comes into this world.

This article’s main aim is to address the question, when can a baby see light in the womb? And consequently, how can you use that to interact with your baby?

Let’s begin.

What Is the Timeline of a Baby’s Vision Development?

A human pregnancy lasts nine months. It’s divided into three trimesters (a trimester lasts three months). During each trimester, the fetus goes through different stages of evolution.

When it comes to your baby’s eyes, their growth starts as early as the first trimester. Structural development of the eye begins first and usually lasts two months.

That said, let’s take you through a detailed timeline of a baby’s vision development: 

The First Trimester

Nothing much happens to your baby’s eyes during the first trimester except for a few anatomical changes.

Throughout the first six weeks of pregnancy, the embryo’s eyes are just upside-down cups. Soon, they’ll connect to the brain’s main optic nerve and start growing. 

Once another week passes, the necessary parts of the eye start to develop. These include the cornea, iris, pupil, lens, and retina. By the end of the second month, the eye is fully evolved.

Midway through the third month, the last parts to form are the eyelids and the tear ducts. The baby can’t open its eyes yet, though. Additionally, babies can’t form tears until they’re a few weeks old.

The Second Trimester

During the fourth and fifth months, the eye’s retina has now fully formed and can function. After the 22nd week passes, the baby can finally open its eyes and sense light. 

However, sometimes an embryo won’t be comfortable with opening its eyes until the 27th week. Towards the end of your second trimester, the ultrasound will be able to pick up on your baby’s eyes.

The Third Trimester

The beginning of the third trimester is when your embryo will be able to keep its eyes open and start blinking. 

At 31 weeks, your baby’s pupils will be able to expand and contract. In other words, their eyes can now detect light and make out shapes from inside the uterus.

Throughout the 32nd and 34th week, your embryo can track movement around them. It’ll also be able to see colour. A baby’s first colour is typically red because of the uterus’ outline.

As the eighth month rolls around, your baby can see everything but isn’t able to process any of the visual information it’s registering.

Should I Expose Baby to Light?

It’s recommended to expose your baby to light while it’s still in the womb. This way you can engage your child and encourage them to move around.

You can expose a baby to light in several ways, the healthiest being sunshine. Bathing in the sun for a few minutes every day promotes healthy baby development. Not just that, but the sun’s vitamin D will be good for both you and your embryo.

Can Light Harm Babies in the Womb?

Exposing your baby to light starting from the third month of pregnancy and onwards is pretty helpful. This act doesn’t harm your baby but instead allows you to interact with your embryo before birth.

If you want your child to feel your presence while in the womb, you can choose either of the following ways to do so:

UV Light

Sun rays are strong enough to penetrate your skin and reach your baby. Remember, though, to apply sunscreen beforehand to protect both yourself and your embryo and in a car cover the windows with a sun shade.

The added benefit of sunbathing when pregnant is the high percentage of vitamin D. It’ll reduce the chances of placenta problems and other issues such as premature or stillbirth.

Flashlight

Another way to encourage a reaction from your child is to use a flashlight. You can do this around the 22nd week of pregnancy when your baby will be able to sense it.

Shine a flashlight a couple of centimetres away from the belly and wait for a response. This is how you can get your embryo to flutter around and work its mobility before birth.

How to Engage Baby’s Vision in the Womb

baby light in the womb

Since light exposure is quite important for the development of your embryo’s eyes in the womb, you should try engaging your baby’s vision early on.

There are many ways to go about doing this, including the following: 

  • Get plenty of sunlight for both you and your baby.
  • Use a baby night light projector for a variety of colours, movements and patterns
  • Use a flashlight to get your embryo to move away or toward the shine.
  • Show your baby high contrast pictures in neutral colours to tease their brain’s development.
  • Have people interact and talk to your baby during your second and third trimesters.

Does Seeing Light in the Womb Affect How They See Light after Birth?

Seeing light in the womb only helps your baby’s eyes to develop stronger and better. In no way, however, does this affect how the infant sees light after its birth.

Your light-trained newborn will be like every other embryo once it’s born. It’ll be sensitive to harsh glares, blue light, and strong sunshine. 

In the uterus, its eyes were protected and its vision was blurry. Once it’s outside though, babies need to be constantly protected from strongly lit environments.

Conclusion

When can a baby see light in the womb? Your baby can’t sense light until the beginning of a pregnancy’s second trimester. Additionally, it won’t be able to react to the light or make out faces until the third trimester.

You can go about interacting with your child by sunbathing and playing with it using a flashlight. Early light exposure helps an embryo’s visual development even though it can only see blurry images.

Keep engaging with your baby throughout your pregnancy to make it feel safe and loved.