Sat. Dec 3rd, 2022
The nine habits and routines in babies and children that favor their visual development and eye health

The nine habits and routines in babies and children that favor their visual development and eye health

It is surprising to see newborns with their eyes wide open, as if they wanted to capture all the details of the new world they have just discovered. But the reality is that they are not able to see clearly , focus or see the full range of colors , because their visual system has not yet developed.

Vision and movement are intimately related , so that as the baby grows and reaches new milestones in his motor development, his visual development will also be favored.

In this sense, parents can do a lot to favor the baby’s sight in his first years of life, as well as to take care of the child’s visual health throughout his childhood.

Laura Alonso, optometrist from Óptica Bajo Aragón (Teruel) and member of the Committee of Optical Experts of CECOP Spain , gives us the keys to it.

Lets baby explore the world from the ground

Whether due to ignorance or hyperprotection, many parents do not contemplate the idea of ​​leaving their baby on the floor so that he can explore the world from that perspective and move freely.

But for Laura Alonso, this is one of the first and most important routines that we must adopt with the baby:

“From the first month of life it is essential to place the baby on a blanket on the floor face up and face down every day , and lie down next to him so that he feels safe exploring the world from this position”

“We often leave the baby in hammocks or pushchairs which, although they are practical for parents, detract from the child’s potential, since they cannot move or experiment freely, so we do not contribute to their motor development or learning”

Stimulates the baby’s motor development

As we said at the beginning, each new milestone that the baby reaches in his motor development will mean an important advance in the development of his visual system.

The baby’s first movements are very basic and are limited to sucking, grasping, and arm and leg movements. Over time, the baby will gain autonomy and strength, and will be able to perform increasingly complex movements , such as turning around, intentionally grasping objects with the hand, creeping or crawling.

” If parents stimulate these movements and they occur at the right time in the baby’s development, they will be promoting the correct establishment of essential visual parameters , such as focus and binocularity, and promoting the construction of a stable and optimal visual system ”

That is why, in addition to ensuring that the baby spends little time a day lying on the floor from its first month of life, parents must promote its development by stimulating crawling, playing games and activities according to its motor skills , and offering toys that help stimulate your vision.

Carry your baby whenever you can

Another good way to stimulate the baby’s vestibular system (responsible, among other things, for balance and closely related to vision) is through babywearing, thus adding a new benefit to the long list of positive aspects that this practice has .

The expert recommends carrying the baby face to face in an ergonomic backpack or baby carrier appropriate for their age and size.

Many people mistakenly believe that if the baby is not carried facing the world “they will be bored because they will not see anything” . But in addition to being a harmful and totally inadvisable practice, carrying it facing the world does not stimulate the baby’s visual development, quite the contrary.

By placing the baby face to face in an ergonomic backpack we will be favoring the development of his sight, since the baby will be able to appreciate more details of the human face (for which he is especially interested from birth), establish eye contact with the carrier (essential for proper social development) and take refuge from overstimulation.

As it grows we can expand its field of vision by carrying it on the back or hip, but always using respectful baby carriers.

Walk every day with your baby

Sunlight is not only a source of vitamin D, but also an excellent protector of eye health , as it helps prevent visual dysfunctions such as myopia.

For this reason, it is essential to go out with the baby for a walk every day , and as the child grows, encourage the practice of activities and games outdoors, to the detriment of the use of electronic screens .

Instill responsible and appropriate use of screens

According to the recommendations of the experts, the screens should not be used below 18 months , and their use must be very punctual and restrained throughout childhood. The reasons are diverse, because among other things it affects the quality of sleep, behavior, learning and, of course, eye health .

But sometimes the use of screens is unavoidable, and in those cases parents need to know what measures to take so that tablets, computers or mobile phones do not affect children’s vision.

And it is that the optometrist explains to us that keeping the eyes fixed in front of a screen reduces blinking and facilitates the evaporation of the tear, which causes eye irritation and dryness. The situation worsens if the screen is viewed at a short distance and for a long time, since long-distance vision stops working.

To mitigate the harmful effects of this practice on visual health , it is necessary to take breaks , properly illuminate the room, use anti-reflective screens and place them at a suitable distance from the eyes (40 cm in the case of tablets and mobile phones and 70 cm in the case of be a computer)

With regard to television, Laura Alonso insists that children should never watch it lying on the floor and with the light off , but rather seated correctly and with the room lit, but avoiding brightness on the screen in any case.

Take steps to reduce eyestrain when kids do homework

Eye fatigue manifests itself when the eyes exert excessive effort as a result of activities that involve seeing up close for a long period of time . This not only happens when children use screens, but also when they do homework, read or study .

For this reason, the expert advises us to instill in children a series of visual hygiene rules at the time they start their school stage, as this will help them avoid vision problems and obtain better performance:

  • Sit correctly with your feet flat on the floor and your back straight.
  • Use furniture appropriate to the size of the child. The chair must be adjustable in height and the work table must be on an inclined plane of about 15 to 20º.
  • Lighting is very important : you have to read and study with lighting on the ceiling and another directly on the work plane, which does not directly affect the eyes, does not dazzle and does not cast a shadow when writing. The lamp should be placed on the left if the child is right-handed and on the right if he is left-handed .
  • If possible, it is advisable to place the work table in front of a window to be able to pause from time to time and look into the distance.

When it comes to reading , the child should be doing it with their eyes and not their head, in which case it could indicate a sign of a visual problem. Likewise, it is necessary that you place the book at an approximate distance from the elbow to the wrist.

Teaches the child the importance of pausing during prolonged visual activity

Although we have mentioned it in previous points, it deserves special attention to dedicate a section exclusively to this recommendation.

And it is that to protect visual health it is essential to know the importance of taking breaks when we are carrying out visual activities for a long time.

The optometrist explains that these breaks must last at least 20 seconds , and occur every 20 minutes. That is, when the child has 20 minutes of close-range visual activity, she should stop what he is doing and look through a window as far away as possible, or at least six meters away.

This helps to rest your eyesight, prevent eye fatigue and balance the work of the eye both at close and long distance.

take care of the diet

It goes without saying that diet is also fundamental in the visual health of adults and children. An inadequate diet contributes to the appearance of problems such as dry eye, vision deterioration or long-term eye diseases.

In this sense, the optometrist Laura Alonso reminds us of the importance of including foods rich in Vitamin A in the diet , such as fruits and vegetables (particularly plums and carrots), milk or egg yolks. On the contrary, we must avoid foods rich in saturated fats, sweets, snacks or foods that only provide empty calories.

With these recommendations and periodic visual controls, we will be contributing to the correct development of our children’s visual system and preventing the appearance of future problems.

Photos | Cover ( Andrea Piacquadio in Pexels ) Photo 1 (Pexels – Polina Tankilevitch), Photo 2 (iStock), Photo 3 (Pexels – Allan Mas), Photo 4, 5 and 6 (iStock), Photo 7 (Pixabay)

Acknowledgments | Laura Alonso, optometrist from Óptica Bajo Aragón (Teruel) and member of the Committee of Optical Experts of CECOP Spain