One of the most commonly asked parenting questions is “Why does baby eye colour change?” Babies, especially fair skinned ones, are born with light coloured eyes, and these change colour over time. African, Caucasian, Asian and Hispanic babies are normally born with brown or darker coloured eyes which remain same pretty much throughout life. However, with fair skinned babies, this isn’t the same. Baby eye colour is blue or grey at birth but by the time they become adults, only 1 in 5 of them still has blue eyes.
A Guide for Baby Eye Color
Why Does Baby Eye Colour Change?
When fair skinned babies are born, they have light coloured eyes. As they grow older, their eye colour starts to change and becomes whatever colour they will have for the rest of their life. Baby eye colour is light at birth because babies contain very little melanin in their body at birth. “The amount of melanin in the iris, the colored part of the eye, determines what color a person’s eyes will be,” says Douglas Fredrick, M.D., a pediatric ophthalmologist at Stanford Children’s Health in Palo Alto, California.
Melanin is the pigment that gives colour to the skin, hair and eyes. The iris is the coloured part of the eye. As the body starts producing melanin, the eye starts to gain colour, and the lighter shade changes. This is also the reason why most babies are born with faint brown/ golden hair but as they grow older, the hair colour starts to change into darker shades.
Genetics are determinant of how much melanin a person will have in their body. The DNA that you or your partner pass on to your baby determines the colour his/her eyes will be. There isn’t much melanin production in the body while the baby is still in the womb. Melanin production is triggered in the body by exposure to light. It is important to understand here that melanin doesn’t colour the eyes any shade- the only colour melanin gives to the eyes is brown. The difference in the colour of the iris is determined by the amount of melanin in the person’s body. The more the amount of melanin, the darker the eyes will be. This is the reason why dark-skinned people tend to have darker irises and light-skinned people have light coloured irises.
Read More: 11 Tips to Keep Your Child’s Eyes Safe
When Does Eye Colour Change?
Baby eye colour starts to change once the body has produced and stored enough melanin to use. This happens around 6 to 9 months after birth. Around this time, you may notice a dramatic change of colour in your baby’s eyes. Your baby’s body has created enough melanin to channel to the iris, so you can tell by this time what his or her eye colour will be. However, it still may be too early to tell.
For example, if your baby’s eye colour looks hazel at 15 months old, it may still darken into brown in the near future. Sometimes green eyes may change into hazel coloured ones- this is because though the body has started adding melanin to the iris, it isn’t done yet. So you may still notice subtle changes in your baby’s eye colour. Eye colour changes till the child is about three years of age. Dark eyes tend to remain dark throughout life. In about 10% of the population, eye colour can change till the person reaches adulthood.
Are All Babies Born with Light Eyes?
It is a famous saying that all babies are born with blue eyes—but experts are of the view that it’s a myth. “Babies are born with all different colored eyes. Some have dark eyes already and some have blue,” says Mohamad S. Jaafar, MD, pediatric ophthalmologist and chief of the division of ophthalmology at Children’s National Health System in Washington, DC. It’s not hard and fast but Caucasian, Asian, African and Hispanic babies are typically born with brown eyes or eyes that look black in colour. Light skinned babies generally are born with blue eyes.
To What Colour Will My Baby’s Eyes Change?
Baby eye colour is dependent on genetics- what has been passed down from you or your partner to your baby. If you and your partner both have blue eyes, then your baby’s eyes will most probably continue to be blue for life. And if one of you has brown eyes and the other has blue eyes, then there’s a fifty percent chance of those eyes retaining their blue colour, or turning brown as he/she grows up.
If both your eyes are brown but one of you has a recessive blue eye gene from your parents, your baby may still retain the baby blues. What all this means is that there is still a lot of technological advances to go before stuff like predicting eye colour correctly comes true, but you can take a guess. Eye colour is predominantly determined by genes, and typically the baby has an eye colour that imitates that of one of his or her parents’.
What are the concerns regarding change in baby eye colour?
Baby eye colour change is a very natural thing when it comes to light skinned babies. If your baby’s eye colour is changing to a darker shade, especially under the age of three, do not be worried. However, if you notice both eyes turning into different colours, or only one eye changing in colour, you must consult a doctor regarding that. Another red flag to look out for is cloudiness in your baby’s eyes. Cloudiness in the eyes is a serious concern and you must consult a doctor if you notice any, immediately. Contact your pediatrician or child ophthalmologist in case of any of these signs in your baby’s eyes.