The doctor is in: Infant eye color

Everyone keeps telling me my newborn’s eyes will change color. When does that happen and when is the latest it could happen?  

As a new parent, you receive loads of advice and information from many sources. Not everything you hear or read is true, but this one can be true! The color of your baby’s eyes at birth is not usually the exact shade he or she will end up with. Eye color is determined by melanin, a protein that specialized cells in our skin and hair, called melanocytes, secrete. Melanin provides the pigment that determines our eye color, as well as our hair and skin color.  

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After a baby is born, melanin production begins in the iris, which is the colored ring in the eye. Our genetics determine how much melanin production occurs. The more melanin produced, the darker the eye color will be. So, if a small amount is produced, the eyes will be blue, a little more will produce green, grey, or hazel, and even more will produce brown. This production continues over the first year of life, with most happening in the first six months. This means your baby’s eye color can change up to his or her first birthday! The most dramatic change happens between three and six months, so usually you can have a good idea of a baby’s eye color at 6 months old. However, there can still be transition during those next six months.  

So, if you had an eye color pool at your baby shower, don’t award a winner on the way home from the hospital! The lucky winner will have to wait until the first birthday party to be declared! 

— Dr. Kimberly Shookman, Pediatrician, Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics, Barberton

Photo provided by Akron Children’s Hospital