You’ve probably heard that black and white high contrast cards are crucial for your baby’s development, but perhaps you aren’t quite sure why.
In this post, we tell you everything you need to know about the benefits of visual stimulation, how to use them and even how to save money by making your own!
Why Black and White Patterns for Babies Are Important
Sensory flashcards with high contrast images are a great tool to promote visual development in babies.
As they grow, they become more aware of their surroundings and are able to distinguish between more colors and patterns, but it’s best to start off with black and white cards.
High Contrast images can be used with newborn babies. This age is an important time to use stimulate baby’s brain and promote healthy visual development.
It’s also a great way for parents to bond with their newborn baby and engage in interactive play. Visual stimulation cards need not cost money- black and white cards can either be made at home, purchased, or you can find some free printable black and white images online.
What do Newborn Babies See?
When a newborn is born, their vision is not fully developed yet. They can only see things within 10-12 inches clearly and everything beyond that distance appears blurry. This means that newborn babies are farsighted and cannot focus on objects that are far away.
As a result, newborns tend to focus more on things that are close to baby’s face, and they will often study objects by looking at them closely. However, due to baby’s eyesight being not fully developed, everything they see will appear blurry or fuzzy to them.
This is why providing visual stimulation in the form of high contrast patterns and colors can be beneficial for infants and their early development as it helps stimulate their visual senses and supports their brain development.
Why are black and white cards good for babies?
At birth, a baby’s eyes have the potential to see, but their visual pathway is immature and cannot process visual information fully.
While still in the womb, babies can see the color red (the color of the uterus!) and track objects, but everything appears fuzzy to them, and they cannot distinguish between similar shades. This is why black and white high contrast cards for babies are the best option in those early weeks.
The visual pathway includes rod and cone photoreceptors in the back layer of the eye that convert light into electric signals. These signals are sent via the optic nerve to the visual center in the brain, where they are processed and translated into images that allow us to see.
Between the ages of 0-4 months, babies’ visual pathways gradually mature, and they can distinguish between shades of white, gray, and black. Using high-contrast sensory flashcards during this time can stimulate and encourage the maturation of the visual pathway. Showing your baby simple black or white images and shapes on these flashcards can help the optic nerve make strong connections and stimulate the visual center to operate efficiently. This support can improve your baby’s vision, focus, and tracking.
After about four months, babies may start seeing and responding to the color red and subsequently to other primary colors. They develop depth perception and can focus on objects further away. They become aware of their fingers and toes and enjoy watching them move. High-contrast flashcards with a pop of red, black and white images and more complex patterns and pictures can further stimulate their visual pathway.
Using sensory flashcards is a great way to help your baby with their visual learning, bond with them, and have fun playing games.
Our Top 3 Newborn Black and White Cards
Picking the right black and white cards for your newborn will depend on your lifestyle and how long you plan to use them.
Life is busy when you have a newborn so we’ve shared our favorites below.
How to Use High Contrast Cards for Baby
Using high contrast cards is a great way to stimulate a newborn’s visual development. High contrast cards are usually black and white or brightly colored with bold patterns and shapes, high contrast colors which are easy for babies to see and focus on. By placing the cards within the baby’s visual range, you can encourage them to focus their attention and track the movements of the cards.
It’s important to remember that newborns have short attention spans, so it’s best to start with stimulation cards for short periods of time, such as 1-2 seconds, and gradually increase the time as they become more interested and engaged. It’s also a good idea to encourage them to touch and grasp the cards, as this helps to develop their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
When you’re using the cards with your baby, talk to them about what they’re seeing and ask them questions about the shapes and patterns on the cards. This helps to build their language skills and cognitive development.
It’s important to remember that babies get tired easily, so if your baby becomes fussy or agitated, take a break and try again later.
Where to Use the Black and White Cards
High contrast cards can be used in many different ways to stimulate and entertain your baby, as well as to make your daily routine easier. Placing them in the car seat, stroller or on the changing table can help distract your baby during diaper changes or car rides.
You can also use them during tummy time to encourage your baby to lift their head and strengthen their neck muscles. Overall, high contrast cards can be a great tool for parents to help support their baby’s development and engage with them in a meaningful way.
Activities for using high contrast cards in developing newborn vision
Using black and white picture cards is a great way to stimulate your newborn’s vision. You can display these high-contrast flashcards anywhere your baby may be during the day, such as during tummy time on the floor.
Here are some tips for using these cards:
- Place your baby on your thighs with their belly down and gently rub their back. Show a high-contrast card in line with your baby’s vision and slowly move it to see if the baby moves their head in the direction of the card.
- Newborns tend to look sideways, so you can place the contrast cards on the side they are looking at. Keep changing the side for the cards to encourage your baby to move their head.
- Make a small foldable booklet with these cards and place it in front of your baby.
- For a fun activity, paste or make transparent pockets for the contrast cards on the six sides of a small cubical box.
Using these high-contrast flashcards is a simple and effective way to support your baby’s visual development and bond with them through play.
Other Ways for Your Baby to Enjoy High Contrast Images and Toys
Let baby explore a black and white floor or tummy time mat
A play gym can benefit not only core strength but, combined with high contrast images, you can help your baby’s visual and brain development too! Either use a black and white tummy time mat or bring black and white toys to tummy time.
Don’t forget to check out our expert advice on the best play mats for tummy time!
Black and white Nursery Mobile
You can either buy a high contrast baby mobile, make your own or adjust one you already have at home. Your little one will just love looking at the attention grabbing images as they lay in their crib.
For our top tips, check out our post on the best high contrast hanging toys.