Have you ever tried one of those online generators to determine what your baby will look like before he/she is born? The results can be pretty hilarious when you see your nose combined with your partner’s 5 o’clock shadow. Unfortunately, these tools are just for fun—they can’t show you what baby’s smile will look like and they can’t answer questions like when do babies eyes change color?
When you just can’t wait to meet baby, any intel about what they’ll look like or what their personality might be like is welcome information, and luckily, eye color is something you can predict—to an extent!
In this article, we’ll answer:
What Determines Eye Color?
Though eye color is an inherited trait, it is a bit more complex than Mom’s eyes + Dad’s eyes = Baby’s eyes. According to the latest research, 11 genes contribute to the color of those adorable peepers.
The genes associated with eye color are involved in the production and storage of melanin, which is the amount of pigment occurring in the hair, skin, and iris of the eye.
Brown-eyed people have a large amount of melanin in their iris, while people with blue eyes have a small amount. Several variations in the genes can either reduce or increase the melanin. And when these genes interact with each other, crazy things can happen. For example, it isn’t unheard of for two brown-eyed parents to have a blue- or a green-eyed child, or two blue-eyed parents to have a brown-eyed child.
The inheritance of eye color is more complex than originally suspected because multiple genes are involved. While a child’s eye color can often be predicted by the eye colors of his or her parents and other relatives, genetic variations sometimes produce unexpected results. (source)
But just like your baby, eye color research still has a lot of growing up to do—there are several thousand genes involved in iris development currently under investigation.
What Color Eyes Will My Baby Have?
There’s nothing like daydreaming about what your unborn baby will look like before he or she enters the world. Unfortunately, there is no way to know for sure what color eyes your little one will have.
Ultimately, the color of a baby’s eyes depends on two things: the parent’s genes and the way they mutate the moment baby is conceived.
Though recent research says there’s a lot more than parents’ eye color that affects baby’s eye color, these guidelines show some of the more likely scenarios:
- Two blue-eyed parents are very likely to have a blue-eyed child.
- Two brown-eyed parents are more likely to have a child with brown eyes.
- If one of the grandparents has blue eyes, the chances of having a blue-eyed baby increase slightly.
- If one parent has brown eyes and the other has blue eyes, eye color is more of a toss up.
Love the guessing game? This chart can be a fun way to determine what color eyes your baby is most likely to have:
Are All Babies Born With Blue Eyes?
In the U.S., only 1 in 5 Caucasian adults have blue eyes, but most are born blue-eyed. (source)
Ever heard the term baby blues? That phrase makes a little more sense when you know that most Caucasian babies are born with blue (or gray) eyes.
Why? Special cells called melanocytes secrete melanin in our hair, skin, and eyes. And because melanocytes respond to light, the amount of melanin in the body increases as we are exposed to more light. When melanin increases, skin, hair, and eyes get darker. After spending more than nine months in a dark womb, baby has very low levels of melanin, and therefore, has very light skin and eyes. (source)
African American, Latin, and Asian babies can have blue eyes at birth, but it’s much less likely. If anything, they will have gray eyes, very dark blue eyes, or brown eyes.
“Darkly-pigmented individuals usually have brown-eyed babies, because the babies have more pigment to start out with.” — Norman Saffra, Chairman of Ophthalmology at Maimonedes Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
When Do Babies Eyes Change Color?
If your child is born with those baby blues, you’ll probably wonder when do babies eyes change color? Will they change color—or will they stay blue?
It can take as long as 9 to 12 months for your baby’s permanent eye color to be determined and the change is so gradual, you might not even notice it happening. But by baby’s first birthday, you can be pretty sure whatever big eyes are staring down that smash cake are the ones they’ll have for life.
“Though some babies’ eye color changes rapidly with the onset of melanin, most infants undergo significant changes between six and nine months of age. This phenomenal occurrence happens once the iris has stored enough pigment to influence subtle changes like blue to grey, green to hazel, hazel to brown and so on.”(source)
Keep in mind that eye color generally gets darker, not lighter. Your brown-eyed girl isn’t likely to become blue-eyed later in life. But your blue-eyed boy may very well end up with green or even brown eyes.
Curious about baby’s eyesight? See our article on when babies can see.
Can You Tell if Baby’s Eyes Are Going to Change Color?
As noted above, if baby is born with brown eyes, he/she will almost certainly have those brown eyes for life. If baby has blue eyes, this simple (but not foolproof!) trick can help determine whether or not they’ll stay that way. (source)
- Look at baby’s eye from the side to eliminate any light reflecting off the iris.
- If there are flecks of gold in the blue of the eye, your baby’s eyes will likely change to either green or brown as they grow.
- If there are minimal or no flecks of gold, it’s less likely your baby’s eye color will change much.
Another indicator? If baby’s eyes are clear, bright blue, they are most likely staying blue. If they are a darker, cloudier blue, they are most likely going to change to hazel, brown, or a darker color.
Why Do Some Babies Have Two Different Colored Eyes?
There are exceptional cases where a baby is born with two different colored eyes, or one eye is half brown and half blue. Ever looked closely at Kate Bosworth or Mila Kunis’ eyes? Stunning, right? As exotic and beautiful as this trait is, contact your doctor if this is the case with your baby. This is called heterochromia, which can be a totally normal phenomenon caused by genetic changes, but sometimes, it can indicate a problem with eye development, or can be a result of a disease or injury to the eye. (source)
My Baby’s Eyes Say What About Their Personality?
As surprising as it may be, psychologists have connected colors and patterns in the eye to personality traits. Researchers at Orebro University in Sweden found that patterns in the threads that radiate from the pupil (known as a crypt) and contraction furrows (lines curving the outer edge) can predict a person’s character.
Those with densely packed crypts tend to be more warm-hearted, tender, trusting, and likely to sympathize with others. Those with more contraction furrows were more neurotic, impulsive, and likely to give in to cravings.
How can this possibly be, you may ask? The genes responsible for the development of the iris also help shape the frontal lobe of the brain, which influences personality.
Since it may be a little hard for you to determine how densely packed your child’s crypt is, there are a few more correlations found in science that may help you predict personality. A study in Current Psychology showed that people with darker eyes are more agreeable. And another study found that people with very dark eyes tend to be better at sports that involve hitting targets. Why? Melanin acts as an insulator for connections between brain cells. The more you have, the quicker the brain may work.
Where does that leave blue-eyed babes? Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that women with lighter-colored eyes seem to tolerate pain better during childbirth and handle the stress better than the dark-eyed mamas.
How About You?
What color eyes did your baby have at birth? Did they change over time? What color are they now?