So, why are black and white flashcards for babies so good? Well, we are born into a beautiful world of colour. A simple red piece of duplo. The shades of green on a variegated plant leaf. The high contrast black and white pattern of the zebra. The complex patterns and colours of slithering snakes. We use colour for expression in art, to describe emotions, as a tool in language and maths, to capture audiences, and to communicate actions.
When your baby is born its sense of sight is not fully developed but by the time they are around 8 months old they will see almost as well as you do and appreciate all the shades of colour around them. In this blog, we look at how baby’s eyesight develops over time and how by making use of high-contrast sensory flashcards we can encourage our little one’s eye tracking and focus as well as improving their muscle strength. Also included are some baby activities to try using sensory flashcards.
At birth, a baby’s eye has all the potential to see but the brain cannot process the visual information fully as its visual pathway is immature. In fact, in the womb, a baby can see red (the colour of the uterus!) and can track objects, although they can not distinguish between similar shades and the world appears fuzzy to them.
The visual pathway includes the back layer of the eye containing rod and cone photoreceptors which are responsible for converting light into electric signals. These signals are carried via the optic nerve to the visual centre in the brain where the signals are processed; ultimately allowing us to see.
Between the ages of 0-4 months, as the visual pathway is slowly maturing, most babies are able to distinguish between shades of white, grey and black.
Using high-contrast sensory flashcards during this time can stimulate and encourage the maturation of the visual pathway. Each time you show your little one a simple black or white shape on a sensory flashcard, you are actively supporting the visual pathway, by encouraging the optic nerve to make strong nerve connections and stimulating the visual centre in the brain to operate efficiently. Simply put, using black and white flashcards for babies, is the best way you can help your baby’s vision, focus and tracking to improve.
After 4 months or so, your baby may start to see and respond to the colour red and subsequently other primary colours. Around this time, their depth perception develops and they will be able to focus on objects further away. They will become aware of their fingers and toes and will enjoy watching them wriggle about! Using high-contrast flashcards with a pop of red and more complex patterns and pictures can further stimulate the visual pathway. Using sensory flashcards is not only a great way to help your baby with their visual learning, but is also a great way to bond and engage with your baby whilst having fun playing games with them.
Black and white sensory flashcards can be used from birth. The sensory flashcards with simpler black and white shapes are a good starting point for your newborn. In particular, those cards that illustrate patterns that show curvature and smooth edges.
Why? Well let’s do a quick exercise…
Find an object around you that has a curved edge to it (if you can’t find anything, use the tip of your thumb). Trace your eye around the edge of the curve. Now do the same thing to an object with a sharp, straight edge (again, if you can’t find anything, use the side of your index finger) and see if you can trace your eyes along the edge. Notice anything?…
By using curvatures, it is much easier for your eye to make incremental movements, rather than straight edges where mid-points are far more difficult to focus on. Therefore, to help your baby with their development, using curvatures will help improve both tracking and focus quicker than straight edges.
When you are ready, you can add flashcards with more complex shapes and patterns to your routine. As your little one is approaching 12-16 weeks, you can introduce sensory cards that include the colour red and flashcards with simple pictures or objects on them (i.e a dog). Sensory flashcards are generally aimed at babies 0-6 months of age, but your baby may enjoy engaging and playing with them for much longer! Use them during ‘tummy time’, playtime, nappy changing time, bath time or any time!
From 0-4 months of age hold sensory flashcards 20-30cm from the baby’s face. This helps them to focus on an object. Start with a few flashcards, shuffling them around each day so that you start with a different card to keep it exciting for your baby. As your little one gets older, you can move the cards further way and from side to side or up and down, as well as add additional more complex black and white cards and flashcards with the colour red. This helps to improve focus and tracking and will also help to build muscle strength in the neck.
Here are some activities for babies using high-contrast sensory flashcards:
As baby depth perceptions develops, encourage your baby to hold onto a high contrast card, or pass it to you, and then encourage them to focus on it.
Talk to your baby about the shapes or animals they see on the card. Point to the card and once your baby has focused on the card, make the appropriate animal noise or name the shape. Your baby will love watching and listening to you! It’s never to early for your baby to start learning from you!
Happy Little Doers sensory flashcard pack for babies includes 30 high contrast cards for newborns up to 6 months and beyond. The flashcards are designed with the baby’s safety in mind with uncoated laminate-free cards that have smooth round edges. Each pack made by Happy Little Doers (whether it is Flashcards or Games), undergoes UKCA Compliance Testing. UKCA Testing is a requirement for many products, in this instance for toys, where everything from the paper, ink and fabrication is tested to ensure that it is safe and age-appropriate. Our Sensory Flashcards have been tested and are 100% safe for newborns.