Eyes come in a myriad of different colors, all ranging from blue to green, to brown and black, and every shade in between. It is with good reason that it has been said that the eyes are said to be the window to the soul. When it comes to babies, many parents look for the day when the color of the eyes is fully known. Many babies are commonly born with blue eyes, and their iris colors will change over the first year of their lives. The final changes will be around six to nine months of age, but there are some babies whose eyes do not change until well after the one-year mark. This is largely due to the many changes that take place at the time of birth, and the ones which will continue to change as the baby grows older. Genetics of the biological parents will play the most influence over the final color of your baby’s eyes.
When Do Babies Eyes Change Color
Your Baby’s Eyes: A Brief Overview of Anatomy
The colored part of the eye is known as the iris, and its color relies on three genetic markers. While science is developing fast, not all is known about all of these genes, so it is still impossible to predict your baby’s eyes until he or she is out of the womb. As the baby grows, the muscles strengthen, including the muscle which dilates the pupil, the black part in the middle of the eye. As the baby’s muscles develop, this muscle will pull the iris as the pupils dilate, and it will contract the iris when the eye is relaxed or in darker atmospheres. This is part of the reason that even as a child and an adult, people’s eyes can change shades; as the iris is contracted or expanded, the color can change depending on the emotional response. The white part of the eye, the sclera, is may also have a blueish tint when the baby is born, but this will go away as the baby gets more time out of the womb.
Changing Colors in the Eye: An Introductory Overview
When a baby is born, the baby’s body is still going through a lot of changes as they exit the womb to a world where they are independent of their mother’s body. One of the more significant changes can be seen in the changing colors of the baby’s eyes. Babies are often born with bluer eyes when they are born, and this is largely due to the absence of melanin in their bodies. Melanin is a pigment that is present in many parts of the human body, and can determine colors in hair, skin, and the eyes. It is made in the baby’s body once the child is exposed to light. The melanin is the only pigment that is present in the eye, so everyone has a blue base, but the top color will change if there is more melanin produced as the baby ages, darkening the final color until it gets to the darkest shade of brown. Once the baby exits the womb and is able to develop the melanin on its own, the baby’s eyes will gradually change from a blueish color. Of course, should the genetics of the parents point to blue eyes, it is entirely possible that the child’s eyes will not change from blue, and in many cases, even then, the blue will either get lighter or darker.
Genetics are the biggest factor in determining what color your baby’s eyes are when they finish changing. It is by looking to the biological parents of the babies that the best guess will be established, until the baby’s eyes finally stop changing. Many people will cite that mutations for the eye color can change, and while that is true, there are no less than three genetic markers for eye color, and the change of the mutation happening to all of the genes is very, very slim. However, it is also important to keep in mind that because of the various genes that will code for eye color, there is a possibility the grandparents and previous generations will also have an influence on the final color of your baby’s eyes. Sometimes, specific genes can skip a generation, including eye color. If there is a grandparent who has blue eyes, and both parents have brown eyes, it is still possible that the baby will have blue eyes.
Just like the rest of the baby’s body, the eye’s melanin production can take some time to work out and level off. This is part of the reason that it takes a longer time for the eyes to settle; while the color is generally set by the end of nine months, some parents have noted changes later than one year, but they are smaller changes by that time; it is extremely unlikely that the base color will change from blue to brown, and then go back to blue, for example.
Because of the differences in color and genetics, it may take a different amount of time for babies’ eyes to fully change. Sometimes it does not take long at all; My own children fall into this category, since both of them have blue eyes. However, while they both have blue eyes, my son’s blue eyes are darker blue, while my daughter’s eyes are lighter blue. They were both born with blue eyes, but my son’s became darker while my daughter’s faded into a lighter blue. I have a friend who has dark brown eyes; her baby was late, so when her daughter was born, she had dark blue eyes, but it didn’t take long before her daughter’s eyes were as dark as her mother’s eyes. However, it can take between nine months to a year before parents see a consistent shade of color shining back at them. This is more common with darker eyes, because of the pigmentation and its patterning; it is also more frequently seen in hazel eyes, where the pigmentation is more scattered and the gene marker which codes for the color is less understood as the others.
The possibility of changing colors after nine months is very rare, though not unheard of. Some children have been observed with changing eye color up until the age of six. Once more, in determining how long it will take for your child’s eyes to settle into their final color, genetics will play a significant role; however, each child is different, so it is best to keep track of it and to be on the lookout for signs of trouble.
What to Expect
When your baby is born, there will likely be a blueish tint to the eyes, if they are not completely blue already. Many children who end up with brown eyes have dark blue eyes at birth, or a blueish shade to them, though some babies can be born with dark eyes that look black. As the baby grows from an infant into a toddler, the color change will become more permanent. As your baby’s body develops and their systems are more regulated—think about how they eat, sleep, and poop on more regular schedules as they grow, compared to when they are first born—their eye color will have enough melanin produced in the eye that guessing the final color will be easier.
The baby has a significant growth spurt around six months of age, as its body gets ready to begin to move around more. This is around the time where the melanin build up has accumulated enough where you should see some difference in your baby’s eyes since he was born. As the melanin has developed and been stored, the baby’s eyes will have changed along with it. It only take a little for the melanin to change the blue to green, green to hazel, and hazel to brown or even black. The more melanin that the body is told to produce by the genes, the more it is likely it will take longer for your baby’s eyes to change, though that is not necessarily the case. More babies with dark eyes at birth have been reported with changes up to three years after birth, but once more, this is not necessarily the case.
The milestone marker for your baby’s eyes to settle into their final color sets the expectation that their eyes will finish changing around nine months. Whether blue-eyed or dark-eyed, it is likely that the baby’s eyes will begin to slow down and settle into their final color around this time, though it can easily take longer than that.
When to Consult Your Baby’s Doctor
Eyes are one of the easier ways to see if there is anything wrong with a baby. If the baby’s eyes look milky white at some point, or if the baby’s eyes develop into two different colors, it is important to consult your doctor. In general, if you are not sure your baby’s eyes are developing in a normal manner, then you can schedule an appointment with your child’s doctor, or you can request information on an eye doctor. Many children will go to the eye doctor when they are toddlers, so if you want to go early because you are not sure of a possible issue, try to find a doctor that you will be able to work with in the long term.
Any eye color in the irises can change later on in life, due to some diseases or other issues, including aging. That’s another good reason to make sure you have a good eye doctor available to your child, and why getting your baby a check-up can only help you in the long run. After your baby is born, one change that the sclera, the white part of the eye, may show is a yellowish tint; this can hint at jaundice. Most pediatricians will immediately recognize this as a build-up of bilirubin, and that has to be treated differently than an eye doctor would be able to treat it.
Another issue that comes up sometimes with baby’s eyes is with the camera flash. More cameras are able to pick up tumors on the back of the baby’s eyes. This is seen in pictures where the one eye is glowing white, and it consistently shows up as a bright spot on the child’s eye in pictures taken with a digital camera. This could be a sign of tumors or cancer, so it is important to get to a doctor that will be able to carefully examine your baby’s eyes for any inconsistencies.
Your baby will have beautiful eyes, regardless of their color. While many parents long for a specific color or shade, your child will easily wear his or her eyes and make them fit his or her own style. From nine months to a year after they are born, our babies have a lot of changing that is going on inside of them and around them. During this time, we can eagerly wait for those changes and record them as they grow, and this includes the changing of the irises to their final colors. Some babies may require more time for their eyes to finish changing—with some changing after two or even three years—but it is not likely that the main colors of their eyes will change after the one-year mark. The best way to guess your baby’s final colors is to take a good look at the biological make-up of the grandparents from both parents, and then to compare them to the parents and others in the family tree. If you are not sure of the health or state of your baby’s eyes, the best thing to do is schedule an appointment with your baby’s regular doctor. Your baby’s pediatrician can easily check for other areas of concern that might be affecting the baby’s eyes, such as jaundice, and have your doctor recommend an eye doctor or specialist depending on what they find.
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