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After months of zero visibility in the womb, it's an exciting moment when your baby opens her eyes in the delivery room--and sees! Although her vision won't fully develop for three to six months, she can distinguish faces at close range and is immediately sensitive to light. Some infants are so delighted at seeing that they will stop sucking and turn to observe an interesting object.
In the early months, the cells in the retina of the eye (which see colors) are still developing, so she perceives only muted hues. That's why you'll find so many toys and mobiles in screaming shades of red, blue, green, and yellow--they may look garish to you, but your baby sees them differently. You can stimulate visual development by showing her mirrors, brightly colored pictures, mobiles, and baby books, especially those with close-up pictures or photographs of faces. When she sees something she likes, her body will jerk and she'll gaze with obvious pleasure.
Get the camera ready--sometime in the coming month, your baby will begin to communicate her good mood with a glorious, toothless smile. You'll know the first real smile by the way she uses her whole face, not just the muscles of the mouth, and by the fact that it will probably come in response to something you do--a smile, a tickle, or just walking into the room.
Babies learn to smile from their mothers and caretakers--you smile at her, and she smiles back. This interaction teaches her two things: First, she learns that a smile is rewarded with a smile, along with hugs, kisses, and words of praise. Second, she has found a way of pleasing you and interacting with you. She will eventually learn to initiate this interaction, and will try it (to great effect) on other people she meets.
Your little one's smile is the first step in a developmental process that will continue throughout her childhood. She'll go through several well-defined stages as she grows--from being a passive newborn, she will learn to imitate a wide range of facial expressions, gestures, and movements, progressing to speech and, finally, patterns of behavior. You can help by modeling loving behavior, both with her and with other family members. It won't be long before she's returning your hugs and kisses.
Note: The information above offers general guidelines, but all babies develop differently, and few hit their milestones precisely when the conventional wisdom says they should. If your child was born prematurely, you may want to use your due date as a baseline for following baby's development.