In our fast-paced environment, it keeps getting harder to accomplish longer attention spans. Kids at school or even us at our jobs have become more and more distracted.

Taking into account that the basic foundation for each one of your skills is built during the first years of life, now is a great time to understand the basis of attention and help your little one develop this skill further. First of all, it’s important to point out that your baby’s ability to concentrate on an object can only occur when his vision has matured. So, for now, we will address the ability of visual attention.

There’s a link between cognitive development and your baby’s visual attention. That’s why it’s important to keep track of the development of this skill. Research has shown that the duration of your baby’s focus on an object is related to an increase in cognitive functions. Longer attention spans will impact his future ability to concentrate.

Here’s a mini-timeline on your baby’s visual attention:

  • Birth to three months: He will go from sleeping all the time to having periods of alertness and searching for things in his environment he can enjoy looking at. Decorate his room with bright colors and toys. Stay close to him, he will also want to pay attention to you.
  • Three to four months: Your baby will combine alertness with his ability to visualize where objects are located. He’ll develop his peripheral vision and spatial awareness.
  • Six to twelve months: He will pay attention to more interesting objects, which will impact on his attention skills. He will stare at bright and squeaking toys. During this stage, he will start to choose what to pay attention to and what to ignore. Keep track of this, in order to place the more interesting objects next him. This will help him have longer periods of attention.

Why is it important to stimulate visual attention?

The development of visual attention and the accomplishment of choosing what to stare at, enables your child to actively explore, and ignore the distractions that are around him. This ability will continue to increase and play an important role on his cognitive functions.

Besides, at this point he relies on you for stimulation, so, by working on his visual attention, you’ll also spend quality time together, creating a stronger bond between you. This will impact his attention abilities later on. If you have a strong relationship, he will feel safe enough to explore the world around him.

To work this skill, you put a mobile over his crib for him to look at, play with your keys and jitter them in front of him, or move around bright toys so he can track them with his eyes. It will help him focus enough to explore his environment and gain new knowledge. Most importantly, remember to have fun together!

More on sight:
Developing visual recognition: shapes and colors
The first few years: Visual development

More on attention: The early memory and attention skills are related to later academic skills