Q&A: When do babies’ eyes change colour?

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Question & Answer

The eyes are often described as a window into the soul. They’re also a very defining feature so it’s little wonder you’re keen to know if and when baby’s eyes will change colour and what they will look like when they grow up.

Wait, their eyes change?

They sure do! Most babies are born with brownish coloured eyes but this is not necessarily the colour they’ll keep. Parents will usually find that their baby’s eyes change quite a few times over the course of their first year. Sometimes this change is quite subtle, other times it can be more significant.

Why does eye colour change?

Baby wrapped in a white swaddle

One of the biggest causes is the pigment melanin. This is the same pigment that directly affects your skin and hair colour. Each person has special cells in their eyes and skin called melanocytes. These cells actively respond to light and begin to produce melanin. You could kind of think of it like your irises getting a tan.

The next consideration is genetics. Genetics dictate how much melanin a person has in the first place. The more melanin you have, the darker your eyes are going to be – so people with small amounts of melanin have blue eyes, those with more tend to have green, hazel or brown.

But shouldn’t they be the same colour eyes as mine?

Not necessarily. Genetics are quite complicated and there’s up to sixteen different genetic codes that can dictate eye colour. These genes come from not only you and your partner but also both of your parents. That’s quite a few options!

When do they settle?

Doctors suggest that the biggest changes will usually occur between three and six months of age. Your baby’s eye colour will not completely settle until closer to their first birthday. For some individuals, it can still shift slightly all the way up to three years of age.

There are a couple of medical conditions that can also cause a change of eye colour. If you notice two different coloured eyes or a sudden lightening in colour around the six-month mark, it’s a good idea to follow this up with your doctor or paediatrician.


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