Could It Be Autism? 6 Reasons Why Your Baby is Not Making Eye Contact
7 mins read
Health & Safety for Baby
It is common knowledge that when babies don't make eye contact, it is an early sign of autism. In fact, it is one of the earliest baby developmental milestones. As a mom, it is only natural for you to worry when baby doesn't make eye contact. Here's why you shouldn't.
Babies typically make eye contact when they are about 6-8 weeks old. As per a study published in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”, infants from their birth prefer to look at faces that engage them in mutual gaze. Babies start making eye contact very early. You will notice it instantly as your baby will follow you with her eyes, and pay attention to you.
At around 3 months of age, they start following the movements of their parents when they go at some distance. Finally, between the age of 9 and 12 months, they hold and follow the gaze of adults when directed to look at something. A baby’s eye contact signifies that his neurological development is in the right order. When this first milestone of his development is not met by the age of almost a year, it indicates to autism. But, you should not worry, as the signs of autism are too many to limit to just one and consider it as the deciding factor. Avoiding eye contact at an early age has many possible reasons.
6 Reasons Babies Avoid Eye Contact
As a parent, you are bound to worry when your baby does not look into your eyes or follow your gaze. But, you should not think of worst possible situations. Here are a few primary reasons why your baby might not be making eye contact with you yet:
Baby has vision trouble:
If your baby doesn't make eye contact even by 3 months, do not panic. Your baby may be avoiding it because of vision troubles, like farsightedness, or may even be suffering from an eye disease. Consult your eye doctor to rule out vision problems and eye diseases.
Baby is overstimulated:
All babies get overstimulated at times, and preemies or babies with physical challenges tend to get overstimulated more often. If you notice that baby looks away from you after some eye to eye time, chances are baby is overstimulated. In this state, even if you try to get him to look at you, most probably he will continue to look away. If you keep trying to engage him, he may even get sleepy. Make sure you give your baby a break before attempting to make eye contact again.
Baby has a short attention span:
A typical baby's attention span is a couple of nanoseconds. Babies like to look at interesting and colourful things and get bored if they are made to look at just one thing at a stretch of time. So, spruce up your home with some bright-coloured toys and rugs and rattles, and watch your baby drawn to them instantly!
Baby is tired, hungry, or sleepy:
In each of these three states, the baby is in no mood to look at you or anybody else. Meet these basic needs before you attempt at making an eye contact. Babies are often moody; they won’t do something unless they want to. And if you constantly force them to do what they dislike, chances are they will ignore you.
Baby is shy:
Just like adults, every baby has a unique temperament. Some babies are social and love gazing at people, while others are shy and take time to make eye contact. If your baby is uncomfortable in social situations, chances are you have a shy baby.
Baby lacks social skills:
Babies enjoy looking at new things and get mesmerized by them and scrutinizing new faces. But, if a baby is avoiding eye contact, it means he lacks social skills. Babies generally start making eye contact at around 3 months of age. You should wait and try to make him comfortable when with people. However, if it has been 6 months and your baby is still not making eye contact, you should consult a doctor.
WATCH: How to Teach a Child to Make Eye Contact
Eye contact is a basic element of communication. When a baby does not make eye contact with you even after a year or so, it is a matter of concern. Here is what you can do to help him make eye contact when he attains an age where he is capable of taking commands, possibly after 1 year:
Verbal Indirect Method: Use language and words to encourage your baby to make eye contact with you.
Non-verbal Indirect Method: Use gestures like you can physically bring him close and ask him to look at you.
Verbal Direct Method: Give a direct command to your children. For example, you can say ‘John, come here!
Non-verbal Direct Method: You can physically move items or any other thing right in front of him in a way that he notices.
4 Activities to Help a Baby Make Eye Contact
As a parent, it is your responsibility to help your child cope in such a time. Lack of eye contact can trouble him in later stages of life. So, here is how you can help your child to make eye contact:
Use Visual Aids:
Never force your baby to make eye contact with you. Instead, increase chances of making eye contact by using colourful visual aids, like stickers that will instantly catch baby’s eye. Babies love colourful things, so try and experiment with hues.
Try Musical Toys:
Babies are particularly attracted to music, so one of the best ways to engage your baby is via musical toys.
Point and Name:
When your baby looks at you, point at some object and ask him to follow where your gaze. When he does, name that object and ask him. It also facilitates language development from an early age.
Try Different Gestures:
When your baby starts looking at you, smile, talk to him, or maybe sing. These signs of social interactions will get registered in your child’s mind and have a positive impact on their development journey.
When Should You Be Concerned?
Eye contact is an important means of non-verbal communication that most of us use naturally when we interact with someone. However, it can be very hard for someone with autism to make eye contact – whether they are babies, adults or children. As per a recent study, researchers noticed that 2-5 months old babies with a measurable decrease in eye contact were later diagnosed with autism. These babies started out with normal eye contact, but every month their eye contact decreased. On the other hand, normal babies were the ones whose contact increased month by month.
A baby’s eyes reveal joy, sincerity, and an innocence that is hard to find anywhere in the world. And when he looks at you with that pure delight, your happiness is no bound. But, when after trying every measure your baby still refuses to look at you in the eye, it can be frustrating; all you can do is wait. Every baby is different and does things at their own pace. Some babies make eye contact much later. So, just give them some time.