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It’s natural for parents to want to know what color eyes their newborn child will have. Unfortunately, nature isn’t quite so accommodating. It’s very common that a baby’s final eye color will end up being something other than the eye color he or she is born with. It can takes months, or even a full year, for an infant to manifest his or her permanent eye color.

Most babies have fairly nondescript eyes when they’re born, with colors ranging from slate to gray-blue to blue-black to dark bluish-brown. Since the pupil is always black, what you’re actually seeing is the color of your baby’s iris, or the muscular ring that surrounds the pupil and controls the amount of light that gets into the eyes. Just like skin and hair, the color of the iris is ultimately determined by a pigmentation protein called melanin. The more melanin your baby’s eye’s produce, the darker his or her eyes will be. In newborns, however, the cells that produce melanin (called melanocytes) are not very active—just like everything else with your baby, they’re still new and getting used to working on their own.

As your baby matures past the newborn stage, the melanocytes will begin to produce melanin, resulting in changing skin tone, changing hair color, and yes, changing eye color. But be patient! This is a slow process and can take months to be complete.

Even though the color of your newborn’s eyes may not be immediately evident, here are some rough rules for eager parents:

  • Babies with darker-skinned parents tend to have darker eyes at birth, and it’s rare for their eyes to lighten in color as they age.
  • Eye color is determined by genetics. If you and your partner both have blue eyes, and blue eyes are prevalent in your extended family, it’s likely your baby will have blue eyes as well. This is because blue eyes are considered a “weaker,” or recessive trait, so two blue-eyes parents will usually pass along only blue-eyed genes to their child, resulting in a blue-eyed baby. Along the same lines, two dark-eyed parents can have a blue-eyed baby if each parent has a recessive gene for blue eyes “hiding” behind their dominant dark eye color, and both parents pass along that recessive gene to their baby.
  • If your baby is born with blue or green eyes, and you and your spouse both have brown eyes, it’s possible, but not likely, that you will have a blue- or green-eyed child.

In some cases, your baby might have different colored eyes. This condition is fairly rare in humans, and it’s generally caused by an underlying medical condition. Doctors refer to it as “heterochromia.” This may be caused by a genetic syndrome like Waardenburg syndrome, or it can be caused by injury or diseases like glaucoma. If you notice that your baby’s eyes seem to be turning different colors over time, you should alert your child’s doctor. In most cases, the child will be referred to a pediatric ophthalmologist for a thorough eye exam to make sure everything is okay.

You may also be interested to know that eye color ranks very low on the at-birth “check list” of the average pediatrician. If your doctor is concerned about your baby’s eyes, that may be because the whites of the eyes are tinged yellow, which is a sign of jaundice. Pediatricians also look for more unusual findings such as cataracts or a white color behind the pupil, indicating more serious problems.

Takeaways

  • Your baby’s eye color at birth may not be their permanent eye color.
  • It can take up to a year for your baby’s final eye color to come in.
  • Eye color is determined by genetics.

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References

  1. Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy.
  2. Alfred Rosenbloom, Jr. and Meredith W. Morgan, Principles and Practice of Pediatric Optometry. J.B. Lippincott Company, 1990.

Comments

  1. I have what are technically hazel eyes but most people call green. (They are very light with almost no perceivable brown.) They were blue until mid elementary school and transitioned to green. My ex husband had blue eyes (slate). Our daughter has traditional hazel eyes, but they were blue until she was 5, (a very bright azure) then moved over to green and then got darker and darker until now they look almost brown but show a lot of green in sun, etc. They’re much darker than either of ours. We call them dragon eyes or cat eyes.

    I think hazel eyes change longer than is typical and aren’t set by a year.

    My new husband also has blue eyes (gray). Our newborn’s eyes were dark but have gotten bluer and lighter in the two weeks since he was born. So curious how they will end up but I’m not going to think I know until they haven’t changed for a year or he is 10.

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    1. Very interesting, Heather! Sounds like everyone in the family has unique beautiful eyes!

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  2. My son was born with dark gray eyes that gradually turned dark brown, which was a bit of a surprise since my husband has blue eyes as does his family, and I have blue-green eyes. I was born with blue and they changed when I was 7 years old. I also developed a small spray of golden brown around both pupils, but this is only noticeable up close. I’m thinking that I must carry the brown gene, but not fully expressing it. I would think that this occurance with my son’s dark brown eyes and parents’ lighter eyes is fairly rare.

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    1. Eye color is so interesting! There must be a brown gene in there somewhere. I love that each child’s eye color can be different and an expression of a long ago relative!

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  3. My son’s eyes never changed. <3

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    1. Neither did mine 🙂

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  4. My husband has hazel eyes and I have blue eyes. Our daughter’s eyes are a grayish blue right now at 3 months old. I can’t wait to see if they will stay that color! 🙂

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  5. My oldest DD had greenish-brown eyes when she was born. My husband,her father, has hazel eyes. Her eyes ended up being a chestnut brown.

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  6. I have hazel eyes and my husband has dark green with a lot of brown in them, my son is almost 8 months old and his are bright green with flecks of brown 🙂 I hope they stay this color!

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    1. They sound beautiful!

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  7. Every baby in my family had gray eyes some kept theirs others didn’t

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  8. All my babies had really dark eyes at birth. Some ended up with chocolate brown eyes, and some more Hazel.

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  9. This is so interesting! Everyone in my moms family has blue eyes-except her- she has green. My father has blue eyes, my and sister I both have green- her kids have blue eyes. My husband has brown eyes. I think our 6 month old daughter is going to have brown eyes. Ta interesting how genetics work!

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    1. I know, it’s so amazing how are bodies are put together!

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  10. My daughter was born with blue eyes and we knew it was possible for her to keep her blues eyes since my husband has blue eyes. Her eyes are the brightest blue like her daddies and she is now 3.5 years old.

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  11. I was just wondering about this the other day. Both my husband and I have hazel eyes so I am curious if my boy’s blue eyes will change

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  12. This is fascinating! I can’t wait to see what our child’s eye color winds up being… I kind of hope they’re green like mine! 😉

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  13. both my kids changed to brown after they were one , I guess blue eyes were not meant to happen!

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  14. My oldest’s eyes didn’t turn their permanent color until he was about 3. My youngest’s eyes stayed the same color they were since the day he was born. Thanks for the information. It is definitely interesting

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  15. I’m so curious to know what our baby’s eye color will be! My eyes are blue and my husband’s eyes are blue green! 🙂

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  16. My oldest daughters were blue until she was five and then turned green.

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  17. I have brown eyes and my husband has blue eyes. I have always wanted a blue eye baby and to my surprise my oldest has blue eyes. Now we have another son, who is young and I think his eyes will be brown. He is only 7 months old, but I am starting to see specks of brown in his eyes. I think genetics are amazing thing.

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    1. Agreed! It’s so interesting to watch how your kids change and identify features that seem to “belong” to one side of the family or the other.

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  18. My lovely niece has a 6 month old who’s eyes are still blue, but both patents have brown eyes, so we’ll wait and see.

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  19. My son’s eyes are nearly the same color as at birth 13 months later. Still blue

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  20. Even though my grandma had gren eyes, i knew my son would have big brown eyes! Although, my husband’s eyes change sometimes, I think brown eyes are in store for my sweet baby!

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  21. Of all the questions I get asked from new parents, this is one of the most popular. And it’s so hard to wait to see what color they will eventually be!

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  22. Interesting, I got the recessive green eyes in my family but everyone else has brown.

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  23. This is a hot topic between my wife and I. We’re pregnant with our first and I have blue eyes while my wife has green eyes. We can’t wait to see the color of our new baby’s eyes.

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  24. Me and my sons father have hazel eyes but my son has gray blue eyes.. He should also grow into hazel eyes.

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  25. That’s really interesting! I have green eyes & hubby has brown, her eyes turned out to be hazel

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  26. My son was born with blue eyes and still has blue eyes 3 years later. It could be because my husband and I both are blue eyed.

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  27. Still trying to figure out my son’s eye color – it looks slightly different every day!

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  28. Both me and DS’s father have blue eyes (as well as our family members). However, my eyes are icy blue, while his father’s are a grey blue. So while I’m pretty sure they’ll stay blue, I’m just eager to see what shade of blue they will be.

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  29. Well my eyes were blue the color i was born with till i was 6 years old then turned green.

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  30. I don’t understand why people say it takes a year before the actual color sets in. My daughter is now two and her eyes are turning a turquoise color and she is almost 3 and I can see Orange in there. I had deep blue eyes up until I was about 9 and they changed to green and have never went back to blue!

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    1. Yea mine too they didnt turn till i was six

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  31. My oldest son’s eyes were blueish when he was born but he now has dark eyes like my husband and I. Three of my nieces have blue eyes and blonde hair and both mom and dad have dark brown hair and dark brown eyes, but one of their uncles on their mom’s side is blonde with blue eyes. It is weird though because they might be blonde and blue-eyed but they look just like their dad. Also, my husband and both brothers-in-law have dark hair and eyes and their dad has bright green eyes but not one of them got them. Genetics can sure surprise you in different ways.

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    1. So true about genetics surprising you. My daughter looks like me, but with all of my husband’s coloring.

      Reply

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