When Do Babies’ Eyes Change Color?

You've waited so long for this moment — looking into your newborn's eyes for the very first time. What's interesting to know is that the eye color your baby was born with may be his final eye color, or it may not be: the color may change over the coming months and years.

If you’re wondering when do babies’ eyes change color and whether your baby's eye color will take after your eyes, your partner’s eyes, or perhaps one of the grandparents’ eyes, read on!

We’ll explain what impacts eye color, why it may take time for your little one’s eyes to reach their final color, and when you might finally know what color your baby’s eyes will be.

What Is Eye Color?

Eye color actually refers to the appearance of the iris, which is the muscular ring that surrounds the pupil (the black part) of each eye. The iris helps controls the amount of light that enters the eye. The color of the iris can range from very pale blue all the way to very dark brown.

Your baby’s pupils will always be black, and the sclera (the whites) of your baby’s eyes will almost always be white — unless, for example, she’s ill with jaundice, causing a yellow color, or her eyes have some sort of inflammation and are pink or red.

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What Color Eyes Are Babies Born With?

The color of babies’ irises actually depends on melanin, a protein secreted by special cells called melanocytes that also give your baby’s skin its color. Babies whose heritage is dark-skinned are usually born with brown eyes, whereas Caucasian newborns tend to be born with blue or gray eyes.

Since melanocytes respond to light, at birth a baby may have eyes that appear gray or blue mostly due to the lack of pigment and because he’s been in a dark womb up until now. As he’s exposed to more light, over time (even several years) his eye color can change.

If the melanocytes secrete just a little more melanin, this baby may end up with blue eyes. Just a little more melanin and his eyes will be green or hazel. Brown eyes, which are the most common, are the result of very active melanocytes secreting lots of melanin. Brown eyes are likely to remain brown throughout life.

When Do Babies’ Eyes Stop Changing Color?

It takes about a year for the melanocytes to finish their job and for the final color to come in. While the rate of color change does slow down after 6 months, the color can still change after this time.

Sometimes the color change can continue for several years before the eye color becomes permanent.

What Color Will Your Baby’s Eyes Be?

Eye color is determined by genetics. One specific chromosome is largely responsible for determining eye color. It carries two genes, one that determines the amount of melanin in the iris, and the other that controls the activity of the melanocytes. These genes act together in determining eye color. Some other genes play smaller roles.

You can’t necessarily predict your baby’s eye color just by looking at your own eye color and your partner’s eye color, but sometimes your prediction may come true — it’s all a game of genetics.

Here are some possibilities when it comes to your baby’s eye color:

  • If you and your partner both have blue eyes, your baby is highly likely to have blue eyes.

  • If you and your partner both have brown eyes, your baby is highly likely to have brown eyes.

  • If one of your baby’s grandparents has blue eyes, your baby’s chances of having blue eyes is higher.

  • If you have blue eyes and your partner has brown eyes, or vice-versa, your baby’s odds are about even for either eye color.

Your baby’s eye color is just as unique as she is! No matter what color your baby’s eyes end up being, you’ll simply love gazing into them. We hope you had fun learning a little bit about the genetics behind your baby’s eye color. In just a little time, your baby’s final eye color will reveal itself. This is just one more of her many physical and personality traits that will start to unfold before your eyes in the months and years to come.

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