Citing the American Optometric Association, ThinkAboutYourEyes.com notes that infants should go for their first eye exam when they're six months old. Although children may not be old enough to play the "e" game and say which way an "e" is pointing, a physician can check to make sure their eyes are developing properly. Your infant's first eye exam isn't an appointment you should skip. If you're apprehensive about taking your baby to the eye doctor for the first time, here are five tips to make sure the appointment goes well.
Schedule the Visit Immediately After Naptime
At six months, children still take regular naps. Scheduling your baby's appointment immediately following a nap will ensure they're rested for it and not cranky. If they normally eat after waking up, you can bring some food or a bottle with you. If you can't predict how long a nap will last, look for a pediatric optometrist or ophthalmologist who offers early morning appointments. Perhaps you could schedule an appointment so that it's shortly after your child wakes up for the day.
Bring a Favorite Toy With You
According to BabyCenter, physicians check vision in infants by having them track an object with each eye. They cover one eye and make sure the other eye can follow an object as it's moved. Then, they test the other eye. If either eye isn't able to follow an object, your baby's vision might not be developing properly.
This is an easy test -- as long as your baby's willing to focus on the object that the doctor has. Many pediatric optometrists and ophthalmologists have little toys they use for this test, but even a foreign toy might not entice your baby to focus if they're distressed. Instead of relying on the physician's stash of objects, bring one of your baby's favorite toys along and offer to let the doctor use it. As long as it's small, they may do so because a well-loved toy might work much better than an unknown one.
Stand Up with Your Child During the Visit
If your child enjoys being rocked while you're standing, ask the physician if you can stand and hold your baby while they start the exam. Much of a pediatric eye exam, including taking your baby's family history, tracking objects and possibly even checking your infant's eyes with a penlight can be done while you're standing and holding your little one.
Hold Your Child in the Big Chair
While you can stand up for much of the exam, parts require sitting in the big chair in the room. When your baby needs to be in the chair, ask if you can hold them. Not all six-month-olds can sit up on their own yet, so you may have to hold them. Even if your infant can sit and balance, the comfort of your arms might help them remain calm during this part of the exam.
Make It an Outing
In order to ensure that future eye exams go well, make this initial one into an outing. Your six-month-old might not be able to have a latte yet, but you can take them to a park afterward. By making sure you end on a good note, you'll help them have a good memory of their first eye exam. Even if they can't articulate their memory later in life, they may be more inclined to go for subsequent visits.
If you're nervous about taking your infant to their first pediatric eye exam, don't use your nervousness as an excuse to cancel the appointment. There's little to be frightened about, and these five tips can help make sure that your baby's first visit to the eye doctor goes well.
For additional info on eye exams, contact a doctor in your area.