It’s normal for parents to dream and imagine what their new baby may look like. One trait that often gets a great deal of pondering is the tint of the windows to the soul, eye color. While it may be impossible to determine what baby eye color you’ll see at delivery, you can add some science to your wondering.
What gives a baby’s eyes color?
Baby eye color is determined by the amount of (or lack of) a pigmentation known as melanin in the iris. The human iris has two layers. A baby with melanin in both layers will have brown eyes, a baby with melanin in only the back layer will have blue eyes, and a baby with a little melanin in both layers will have green eyes. The varying shades of blue, green, and brown are produced by the degree of pigmentation in each scenario. For example, if someone had a great deal of melanin in both layers their eyes may appear a deep almost black brown, a person with no melanin in the front layer and very little in the back layer would have very light blue eyes which may appear violet from tinting due to the blood vessels in the back of the eye. Albino eyes (pink) are a result of no pigmentation causing the eye to take on only the color of those blood vessels.
What determines baby eye color?
You and your partner’s genetics determine your baby’s eye color. You can get a rough idea of possible baby eye colors from looking at you, your partners, and both of your parent’s eye color. For example, if all 6 people have blue eyes it is highly probable your baby will have blue eyes. If no one in the group has blue eyes, it’s nearly impossible for your baby to come out with blue eyes. Keep in mind that green and blue are both recessive gene traits meaning having even one person in the equation with brown eyes significantly increases the chances of your baby having brown eyes, but having one person with blue eyes offers a chance but still a very, very small one.
This is why America’s blue eyes are turning brown. In 2000, about 50 percent of American babies had blue eyes, by 2006 that number had dropped to about 16 percent. This change is a result of the increase in recent years of cross-ethnicity marriage. Blue and green eyes are most common in individuals of Caucasian decent and as the melting pot mixes races where the dominant-gene dark eyes are more common are taking over.
When does baby eye color change?
Your baby’s eye color will actually not stay the color they’ll appear as you gaze into them just after labor and delivery. When babies are born the melanin that provides baby eye color has not entirely synthesized. Most Caucasian babies are born with a dark slate color eyes and most non-Caucasian babies are born with dark brown eyes. In time, as melanin develops baby eye color changes. Though a baby born with brown eyes will not develop into a blue or green-eyed baby he or she may end up hazel or amber. A baby born with slate eyes may be brown, blue, or green in time. Your baby’s eye color will likely be close to the color it will remain for life sometime between 6 months and 1 year of age. However, some babies, especially those of Caucasian decent, can still experience eye color changes up until age 5. Some adults even notice small changes in their eye color over time, though it should also be noted different light levels can make eyes appear a different color.