Easy Tips + Resources for Parents - No. 9
In this issue: ways to improve babies’ vision, coping with a crying baby during the COVID pandemic, summer fun activities and  important parent resources: Head Start/Early Head Start, The Children’s Trust Parent Club and Women Infants and Children (WIC) and housing assistance.

Babies' Vision

 From birth, babies begin exploring the world with their eyes. Even before they learn to reach and grab with their hands or crawl and sit-up, their eyes are providing information and stimulation important for their development.


Eye and vision problems in infants can cause developmental delays. It is important to detect any problems early to ensure babies have the opportunity to develop the visual abilities they need to grow and learn.

Parents play an important role in helping to assure their child's eyes and vision can develop properly by:
  • Watching for signs of eye and vision problems.
  • Seeking professional eye care starting with the first comprehensive vision assessment at about 6 months of age.
  • Helping their child develop his or her vision by engaging in age-appropriate activities.  

Visual Development

Zero to seven months
  • During the first months of life, the eyes start working together and vision rapidly improves. Eye-hand coordination begins to develop as the infant starts tracking moving objects with his or her eyes and reaching for them. By eight weeks, babies begin to more easily focus their eyes on the faces of a parent or other person near them.
  • For the first two months of life, an infant's eyes are not well coordinated and may appear to wander or to be crossed. This is usually normal. However, if an eye appears to turn in or out constantly, an evaluation is needed.
  • Babies should begin to follow moving objects with their eyes and reach for things at around three months of age.
Five to eight months
  • During these months, control of eye movements and eye-body coordination skills continue to improve.
  • Depth perception, which is the ability to judge if objects are nearer or farther away than other objects, is not present at birth. It is not until around the fifth month that the eyes are capable of working together to form a three-dimensional view of the world and begin to see in depth.
  • Although an infant's color vision is not as sensitive as an adult's, it is generally believed that babies have good color vision by five months of age.
  • Most babies start crawling at about 8 months old, which helps further develop eye-hand-foot-body coordination. Early walkers who did minimal crawling may not learn to use their eyes together as well as babies who crawl a lot.
Nine to twelve months
  • At around 9 months of age, babies begin to pull themselves up to a standing position. By 10 months of age, a baby should be able to grasp objects with thumb and forefinger.
  • By twelve months of age, most babies will be crawling and trying to walk. Parents should encourage crawling rather than early walking to help the child develop better eye-hand coordination.
  • Babies can now judge distances fairly well and throw things with precision.
One to two years old
  • By two years of age, a child's eye-hand coordination and depth perception should be well developed.
  • Children this age are highly interested in exploring their environment and in looking and listening. They recognize familiar objects and pictures in books and can scribble with crayon or pencil.
Signs of Eye and Vision Problems

The presence of eye and vision problems in infants is rare. Most babies begin life with healthy eyes and start to develop the visual abilities they will need throughout life without difficulty. But occasionally, eye health and vision problems can develop. Parents need to look for the following signs that may be indications of eye and vision problems:
  • Excessive tearing - this may indicate blocked tear ducts.
  • Red or encrusted eye lids - this could be a sign of an eye infection.
  • Constant eye turning - this may signal a problem with eye muscle control.
  • Extreme sensitivity to light - this may indicate an elevated pressure in the eye.
  • Appearance of a white pupil - this may indicate the presence of an eye cancer.
The appearance of any of these signs should require immediate attention by your pediatrician or optometrist.

What Parents Can do to Help with Visual Development

There are many things parents can do to help their baby's vision develop properly. The following are some examples of age-appropriate activities that can assist an infant's visual development.

Birth to four months
  • Use a nightlight or other dim lamp in your baby's room.
  • Change the crib's position frequently and change your child's position in it.
  • Talk to your baby as you walk around the room.
  • Alternate right and left sides with each feeding.
Five to eight months
  • Hang a mobile, crib gym or various objects across the crib for the baby to grab, pull and kick.
  • Give the baby plenty of time to play and explore on the floor.
  • Provide plastic or wooden blocks that can be held in the hands when baby is on a play mat.
  • Play pat a cake and other games, moving the baby's hands through the motions while saying the words aloud.
Nine to twelve months
  • Play hide and seek games with toys or your face to help the baby develop visual memory.
  • Name objects when talking to encourage the baby's word association and vocabulary development skills.
  • Encourage crawling and creeping.
One to two years
  • Roll a ball back and forth to help the child track objects with the eyes visually.
  • Give the child building blocks and balls of all shapes and sizes to play with to boost fine motor skills and small muscle development.
  • Read or tell stories to stimulate the child's ability to visualize and pave the way for learning and reading skills.
Even if no eye or vision problems are apparent, at about age 6 months, your pediatrician or doctor of optometry should do his or her first thorough an eye examination which will look for:
  • excessive or unequal amounts of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism
  • eye movement ability
  • eye health problems.
These problems are not common, but it is important to identify children who have them at this young age. Vision development and eye health problems are easier to correct if treatment begins early.
InfantSEE® is the American Optometric Association's public health program designed to ensure that eye and vision care becomes an integral part of infant wellness care to improve a child's quality of life. Under this program, participating optometrists provide a comprehensive infant eye assessment between 6 and 12 months of age as a no-cost public service. Click here to learn more and locate a doctor in your area who can provide the free infant assessment.

Source: American Optometric Association

Tips for Coping with a Crying Baby During COVID-19


All babies cry, with most crying a lot from two weeks to two months of age. For many new parents, crying is one of the most stressful parts of coping with a newborn.

In some cases, extreme stress and a temporary lapse of emotional control in a caregiver can lead to actions such as hitting and shaking that result in abusive head trauma. In fact, the most common trigger for abusive head trauma is simply a crying baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics points out that actions that lead to abusive head trauma are often the result of caretakers “getting to the end of their ropes”. We are aware that feelings of frustration, isolation, and exhaustion are quite common for new parents during the first few months of an infant's life, made much more complicated with restrictions in our movements and support from family and friends due to the COVID19 pandemic. However, there is a bright side: The key to preventing actions that lead to abusive head trauma is to understand ways to calm and soothe babies.  See
  • Try all the soothing tricks. Crying babies want to be soothed. You may need to try a few things, over and over, before they calm. If you have tried holding them, feeding them, swaddling them, gently rocking them, and singing to them, and these don't work, put the baby down and take a break. Be sure your baby is in a safe sleep environment (on their back on a firm sleep surface with a tight-fitting sheet, away from soft blankets, toys, pillows, and other bedding materials). You will recognize that this is the same position you put your baby to sleep in as well as how the baby was put to sleep in the nursery at the hospital. While some babies cry for a long time, many parents are surprised at how rapidly babies will cry themselves to sleep.
  •  The challenges of new mothers can certainly feel overwhelming sometimes. Rest as much as you can—try sleeping when the baby does. However, never sleep with the baby in the bed with you. Find time for yourself when your partner or other caring adult watches the baby. Put on your headphones, give a friend or relative a call, have a cup of tea, or just relax.
  • Connect with others. Social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak ​can be isolating. Try video chats or social media to stay in touch. If you're a friend or relative on the receiving end of these calls, listen first before offering suggestions. Imagine you are with the young parent, they are crying on your shoulder, and you are offering reassurance without any words. Keeping this image in mind can help you provide the social support that all new parents need.
  • Use your “helpers." Engage older siblings as much as you can by encouraging them to be your special helpers, so they can help out in developmentally appropriate ways such as reading and playing with the baby.
  • Seek help. Depression is the most common mental illness in the United States. If you had a history of depression before your baby was born, you may be at higher risk for postpartum depression. Speak with your provider sooner rather than later to help foresee this potential condition. Many doctors, nurses, and mental health providers are now set up for telehealth visits and may be able to help you by video or phone.
  • Reach out. If you are a friend, relative, or neighbor to a family with a newborn, this is the time to reach out. Think about ways you can help. In addition to social support, can you buy diapers or other baby supplies? Can you drop off food or treats for the siblings or adults, safely supervise older children outdoors or have them come along with you when you walk your dog, all while maintaining social distancing and wearing masks?
  • Find a forum. New parents may find it helpful to discuss their experiences with other new parents. In addition to seeking help from friends, relatives, neighbors, and medical professionals, look for discussion forums and communities of parents dedicated to sharing problems, stories, and tips with each other online.
  • The Healthy Start Coalition and your pediatrician are here to help. Never hesitate to call for advice. The Healthy Start Coalition (click on their logo at the bottom of the newsletter) and your pediatrician are excellent resources for understanding your baby and your own needs, including those related to postpartum depression. 

Summer Fun Activities

Fruit / Veggie Clown Faces 


What you need:

A variety of fruit or vegetables such as:
  • one small banana or sweet pepper slice (for the mouth)
  • red grapes or blue berries (for eye balls and face outline)
  • strawberry or plum tomato (nose)
  •  orange or lemon slices (cheeks)
  • a large plastic or paper plate
  • a mirror with a plastic frame for your child to see his/her face

What to do

Cut the fruit in sections. Encourage your child to talk about what they see and what happens to the fruit when you cut them. Talk about the colors and shapes.

With your toddler you can put two red grapes on a plate for the eyes.

Get your toddler to look in the mirror as you talk about his/her different facial features.

Now, put the strawberry or tomato in the middle for the clown’s red nose. A banana can be for the smiley mouth. (You could even put it on upside down if your clown is sad and get your child to look in the mirror to make happy and sad features, observing their own different expressions).

Continue to arrange fruits to make hair and eyebrows.

Along with your toddler, name each part of the face
Then it’s time for a snack. Your child will love your praise and encouragement as they discover new things to make and eat.

Parent Resources

Head Start / Early Head Start


Applications for Early Head Start/Head Start are being accepted to these free, full-day, high-quality educational programs that offer a variety of services for eligible children from birth through 5 years of age and expecting mothers. Other benefits include: support services for children with special needs; health and nutrition services, including free breakfast, lunch and snack; developmental screenings, free transportation  and more…

Apply online. Click here. 

or download and submit an application and find centers located near you.

 The Children's Trust Parent Club 

FREE online workshops in English, Spanish, and Creole to help you raise children who are healthy, happy and successful. To register for a virtual workshop, click the link below, select Register for Workshop Near You, and check dates and times.

Women, Infants and Children (WIC)


WIC provides healthy food, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and family resources to more than 60,000 women, infants, children, and families in Miami-Dade County. If you're pregnant, recently had a baby, or are a caretaker of a child under age 5, you can get personalized support for you and your family at one of  15 WIC Centers. It’s easy to apply at or call us at 786.336.1300 and schedule your appointment today at your preferred WIC center.

Housing Assistance


Emergency Rental Assistance Program
Miami-Dade County's Emergency Rental Assistance Program helps families having problems paying rent due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Housing Assistance Network
The Housing Assistance Network of Dade (HAND) Citrus Health Network is a multi-agency partnership with Miami-Dade County and local municipalities making an effort to prevent homelessness by providing temporary rental assistance for eligible low-income families.


The information in these newsletters is brought to you by members of the Planning Committee of The World’s Greatest Baby Shower in Miami-Dade 2020 which has since evolved into The World’s Greatest Babies in Miami-Dade.  The Planning Committee is comprised of the following organizations making a difference in the lives of children and families in Miami-Dade County. Click on the logos below to go to each organization’s websites to find ways they can provide resources for you and your family. 






 Parent Survey

Dear Parents:

In our efforts to provide you with the information you will find most helpful, as well as the best ways for you to receive this information, please look out for a very brief survey and chance to enter a raffle for an Amazon gift card worth $25.

Stay safe and be well, 

Wil Blechman, MD
Past President, Kiwanis International  

Co-Chair, World’s Greatest Babies in Miami-Dade

Diana Ragbeer Murray, Child Advocate
Chair, Early Childhood Cmte, Kiwanis NEMD 
Co-Chair, World’s Greatest Babies in Miami-Dade



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