Why Do Babies Stare? 11 Cute Reasons Why & What It Means

By Paula McLaren •  Updated: 03/02/21 •  7 min read

So, why do babies stare? What is it about a ceiling fan that is SO AMAZING? I mean, is my neighbour’s face really that INTERESTING? Is my face the only thing he looks at all day?! 

Yes… babies stare a lot. Sometimes at you, sometimes at others and sometimes at NOTHING AT ALL. But… WHY?! Well, let’s get right on into it!

Why Do Babies Stare At You?

Your baby may be staring at you because they find you FASCINATING (and beautiful!)

Infants and newborns are naturally attracted to faces and looking at yours is a newborn’s way of communicating with you as it is their initial love language. 

Everything babies see is new, intriguing and fascinating. And as their brains develop, faces become the focus of their little world in the early days and weeks.

Babies will read facial features and expressions as they contain a wealth of information that is important for their emotional development. Making eye contact and gazing into your baby’s eyes is a wonderful way to bond with your newborn too!

There are many reasons why your baby stares at you:

1. They Find You Fascinating

Your baby will find faces fascinating and mesmerizing. Babies love to stare at their parents, especially their mom.

They are drawn to your eyes and are hard-wired to want to look longingly at their mother. When your baby is staring at you and you are staring at them you are both bonding in a special and unique way

2. They Like The Sound Of Your Voice

Your baby will be naturally drawn to the sound of your voice even before their vision develops. They will turn to the sound of your voice and stare at you.

3. They Are Drawn To Your Sparkly Earrings

As your baby adapts to their new life around them and their vision improves, they will be drawn to contrasting colours and sparkly objects.

So, if you are wearing bright or sparkly jewellery, for example, they will be drawn to them and stare intently at them.

4. You Are Wearing Glasses

Newborn babies will also be drawn to people that wear glasses or have distinctive features.

It gives them a focus point and they may not have seen people wearing them before and their brains are learning what on earth they are!

5. They Think You Are Attractive

A university study showed that babies often stare at people because they think they are attractive. So if you attract a baby’s awareness it may be because they think you are good to look at.

Why Do Babies Stare At Objects And Things?

As newborns adjust to life around them outside the womb, what they see and what gradually comes more into focus as their brain develops is wondrous and new. 

Mundane objects that we take for granted take on a whole new dimension for your little one. Contrasting colors, and moving objects will catch your baby’s gaze. 

All the new things that your baby sees creates connections in their brain. In fact, in the early days and weeks there is not much else a baby can do than gaze at the world around them!

They Are Drawn To Moving Objects

Young babies start to be drawn to movement at around 3 months of age. Your baby may now start staring at objects because their movement attracts their attention. This is all part of their natural development.

They Are Drawn To Contrasting Colours And Patterns

As part of their natural development babies will be drawn to bright and contrasting colors and patterns. Therefore, you might find your baby staring at a bright light, sparkly objects or newborn books. 

They Have Never Seen It Before

When a baby sees something that they have never seen before they will naturally find it intriguing as their mind processes what they are seeing and learn as much about it as they can.

Marnie Baker, M.D., paediatrician at MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center in Laguna Hills, California says that ‘as cute and simple as babies seem, there is a lot of development going on inside their young brains.’ And that includes seeing a WHOLE NEW WORLD every day!

BUT, newborns don’t yet have a well-developed sense of vision, so they are mostly attracted to things with light, movement, and contrast.

What might appear to be a mundane object or picture to us can have the ability to hold your baby’s gaze for long periods of time!

There is this common fear that if your baby is staring at ceiling fans, for example, for extended periods of time it may be an indication of autism. 

However, the TRUTH is… That if your baby is under 4 months of age, staring at a ceiling fan may just be visually stimulating for them. And there’s nothing to worry about.

However, if your baby is older than that and staring for very long periods of time, or if you see signs that concern you… you should have a discussion with your paediatrician to put your mind at rest.

Why Do Babies Stare Into Open Space?

As your baby absorbs all the information they are gathering about their new and exciting world their brains are developing 24/7. If you catch your little one staring off into space it is probably just due to the fact that:

Your Baby Is Absorbing The Surrounding World And All The Things Within It!

When your baby is seemingly staring into nothing they are actually just taking time out to process all the new things their little brains are absorbing.

Your baby’s brain will grow ENORMOUSLY in the first 3 months of life and when we think they are just staring into nothing their mind is in fact working overtime as it processes their new world.

Anything Can Hold A Baby’s Attention 

Your baby will find the most mundane things transfixing, from a mirror to a brightly coloured painting. Whatever captures your baby’s attention may cause them to seemingly stare into space.

You have to remember that EVERYTHING in the world that they see in the first few weeks and months of life is new and fascinating for them.

It is a natural part of their development to stare fixedly at objects and faces and process what they mean.

They Are Just Checking Out For A While

The new place that your baby finds themselves in can be overwhelming sometimes. So, if they are finding it all too much you may find your baby staring into space at nothing in particular. This is a perfectly normal way for your infant to just check out for a while.

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If you’re looking for products for your little one and you’re not sure where to begin, be sure to check out my Parenting Toolbox too!

It is full of all my favourite products which I’ve tried to ensure are all non-toxic, eco friendly, sustainable and, of course, they’re all baby proof!

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Thank you for your continued support!

Paula McLaren

Paul Mclaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and has been in the child care industry as a Norland Nanny since 1982. Since then, her mission has been to help parents become the best they can possibly be. And each year, she continues to help more families understand their child's development, the trials and joys of parenting and of course, how to care for their little ones.

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