Vision and hearing are relatively well developed in the newborn (compared to other areas). Your newborn can see things best about 7½ inches from his or her face. Babies are sensitive to color and bright light, closing their eyes if the light is too bright. They can recognize an object if it reappears within 2½ seconds—meaning that their memory lasts for a very short time, but is still present. During the newborn period, babies are alert—looking around their environment—about 5% of the time they are awake. And they sleep about 70% of the time—though not all at once! This means that newborns are alert a total of about 22 minutes a day. Sometimes newborns get “stuck” on interesting objects, because they don’t yet have the movement or motor control over their body to shift attention from one object to another.
Newborns seem to have preferences about what to attend to. They like objects that move, things that have sharp contours, and dark/light contrasts. When looking at your face, your baby will tend to look at your hairline, eyes, or mouth—areas that present high-contrast visual stimuli.