If you notice your newborn giving you cross-eyed stares every now and then, don’t be alarmed. It is normal for newborns to have crossed eyes or at least appear to have crossed eyes for their first few months of life.
Why do newborns have crossed eyes?
Like the rest of their bodies, newborns eyes are rather uncoordinated. Their eyes don’t always align to focus on an object, especially one that is close. This can result in moments of crossed eyes. As vision and the brain-eye connection mature, the crossed eyes gradually fade away. Usually by around four months babies begin to track objects and both eyes align to do so.
However, the appearance of crossed eyes doesn’t actually mean it’s happening. More often than not, babies’ eyes are actually aligned but they seemed to be crossed due to extra folds of skin at the corner of their eyes. The eye folds eventually disappear and so does the appearance of crossed eyes. Also, babies have flat nasal bridges – designed for breastfeeding! – which can make the eyes look crossed from a certain angle.
When to be concerned about crossed eyes
If your newborn’s eyes are crossed constantly rather than intermittently or if your baby is six months or older and continues to have crossed eyes, consult your pediatrician. The condition we call “cross eye” is medically known as strabismus. This is when the eyes don’t align when fixating on an object.
Pediatricians recommend all babies – whether they display signs of crossed eyes or not – undergo a vision test at six months. Often this test is done during a regular check-up but if not it can be conducted by an optometrist. The test uses light flashes and pictures to examine the health of your baby’s eyes. Doctors will look for strabismus and amblyopia, otherwise known as lazy eye, in addition to other vision problems like nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatisms, and more. The test only takes a few minutes and your baby can be sitting in your lap. She may even find it fun!
Discovering vision problems early is helpful as some of them can be easily corrected. Others will need to be addressed throughout your baby’s life, beginning in infancy.
Sources: Healthy Children, What to Expect and The Bump