Is it true that all babies are born with blue eyes?

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Are all babies born with blue eyes?

If you’re a first time mother, you may not know as much about newborns as more experienced moms do. That’s perfectly normal, considering you haven’t had your own baby to observe. But it also means that you might have a few ideas about babies that may or may not be true. For example, somewhere down the line, you might’ve heard that all babies are born with blue eyes. If you haven’t spent much time with newborns, you probably don’t know if this is really the case. Here’s the lowdown.

Read more: Boy or girl? Take our gender predictor quiz! 

The truth

First of all, it’s definitely not true that all babies are born with blue eyes. Babies of African American, Hispanic and Asian descent are usually always born with dark eyes that stay that way. This is because these non-white ethnicities naturally have more pigment in their skin, hair, and eyes. The specific pigment is called melanin, and it’s more abundant in darker individuals.

Caucasian individuals have less melanin, which means the color of their hair, skin, and eyes is more likely to vary. People with blue eyes have the least amount of melanin in their irises, while a medium amount results in green or hazel eyes.  Those with the most melanin have brown eyes, and even that shade can vary in intensity.

Read more: 7 amazing facts about newborns you definitely haven’t heard

It is true that Caucasian babies are often born with blue or gray eyes that can change over time. This is because they’re not born with the amount of melanin that they’ll eventually have – it develops over time. So if your baby has light eyes now, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she will grow up with light eyes. During infancy, they may darken to become green, hazel, or brown. The color of your eyes and that of your partner’s – as well as your other family members’ eye colors – can help determine what color eyes your little one will have.

To learn more about how to choose and talk to your new OB, download our special guide by clicking below:

 Is it true that all babies are born with blue eyes?

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17 Comments

  1. This is very interesting, I was born with blue eyes (evidenced on my birth certificate) and now I’ve got light brown/hazel eyes, I’d always wondered why that was and my parents insist that it wasn’t a misprint – that I was actually born that way. However, I do have one suggestion to make – when discussing the ethnicities that may have higher amounts of melanin at birth, you mention Hispanic people, and go on to mention Caucasian people as a separate category. This isn’t technically correct, as there are many people who are both Hispanic (ancestry from a Spanish-speaking country) and Caucasian. This is because Spain is a Spanish-speaking country (the original one, in fact) and also a European country, with the majority of the population being Caucasian. I claim Spanish (Hispanic) ancestry and yet my race is Caucasian, because I am a descendent of Europeans, as are many other people around the world. It’s a difficult concept to grasp, most people don’t know the difference, since the term Hispanic tends to get lumped in categorically with Latino (those with mixed European and Native ancestry). But I thought it might be interesting to note that Hispanic does not inherently identify one’s racial background, as one can be Hispanic and white (Spain), black (Caribbean), Native American (Latin America), or Asian (The Philippines). Anyway, thanks for the helpful info on infant eye colour, explained a lot for me. Wonder what my kid’s eyes will look like!
    – a white Hispanic guy

    1. You know, I’ve had lots of South American and Castillan friends with very, very light skin and primarily “Caucasian” features, but I’ve never stopped to think– or ask– about how they might think about their race, or even why the “Hispanic/Non-Hispanic” question on forms is separate from the question on racial background. I always accepted that their ancestors came over from Europe at some point (especially my Argentine friends, many of whose families came over after the World Wars), but just never considered further. What a fascinating distinction. Thanks for sharing such a fascinating viewpoint in such a non-argumentative way.

      1. My mixed children were both born with dark blue eyes that turned light brown. My daughter currently still has a blue fleck in her right eye..it’s unique to her..I don’t know where on either side that came from.

      2. Thanks for the reply! I’m really glad you found it interesting.

        I think the Hispanic question is one that still stumps ethnographers and census makers in the US, since there is so much ambiguity, misunderstanding, and conflation between terms like “hispanic,” “latino,” “Mexican,” and “Spanish.” I think that due to discussions in recent decades regarding immigration (and because many of the people in this group tend to speak dialects of the same language-Spanish) many Americans tend to lump all of these terms together, and sadly often pejoratively. Like with most things, there’s simply not a lot of nuance in public mainstream discourse on such issues.

        You’re totally right to point out the way “hispanic” as a category is treated on census forms and stuff! For racial and ethnic demographics, white people tend to be divided into Hispanic White and non-Hispanic White to make this distinction. This is a bit silly in my opinion, since a “non-Hispanic white” category incorporates every single other European ethnicity possible other than Spanish – i.e. English, Irish, Scottish, French, German, Polish, Italian, Danish, Portuguese, and whatever else. It doesn’t really make sense as a cohesive category, since the differences among these ethnic identities are even more distinct than, say, the differences between Americans and Canadians. But for some reason we treat all of these identities the same in the US while also singling out white people with ancestry from Spain, even though you wouldn’t usually be able to tell a Spanish person from a French or Italian person just by looking at them. They just look like white people.

        Basically, the definition of terms works like this:

        hispanic – ancestry from a Spanish-speaking country
        latino – ancestry from a Latin-American country
        Mexican – ancestry from Mexico (Latin America)
        Spanish – ancestry from Spain (Europe)

        With these terms defined, you could have someone from Brazil who would be latino (since Brazil is in Latin America), but not hispanic (since they don’t speak Spanish in Brazil – they speak Portuguese).

        You could have someone with ancestry from Spain (like me!) who is hispanic, but not latino, since Spain does speak Spanish but is a European country, not a Latin American country.

        Someone from Mexico would be Mexican, latino, and hispanic but probably not Spanish, since Mexicans tend to identify themselves as mestizo (mixed Euro-native), even though many have ancestry from Spain.

        Of course, we Americans on the whole have a really poor understanding of geography, so most people are unlikely to even understand the differences outlined above. I used to live in France and I have a friend who was convinced that I lived in Paris, even though I lived in a city about an hour and a half away from Paris, but still in France. The public school system evidently failed her, since to her “Paris” and “France” were basically synonymous and coterminous.

        Just as another funny example, I’m from New York City but I currently live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I’ve had people from back home ask me if they need a passport to come visit me in New Mexico. Because NM is a US state, you can imagine why I was pretty disappointed in the failings of our education system! When I go back home, I tell people I live in NM and some people will even say things like “wow, your English is really good!” or “wow, you look/sound just like us!” I guess there’s a reason Americans have such a poor reputation abroad. Lol.

  2. not only that, but they said “African american” instead of black, or “of African ancestry”(as obviously not all(or even the majority) of black people are american.)
    I say this not because I’m offended or it bothered me, or to over critical, but simply because so often people don’t even think about what the words or phrases that we use mean(I’ve heard Americans refer to native Africans living in Africa as well as black people living in Europe as, “African american”.
    but I agree, the meanings of Hispanic/white/latino are very misunderstood in general. I’ve spoken to Puerto Ricans who never knew that their(relatively distant) ancestors(at least the majority of them) were most likely most likely from europe/Spain, as well as surprisingly large number of Jamaicans and other islanders who didn’t know that (black)Jamaicans were not originally native to Jamaica(i.e. aren’t/weren’t native americans), but are descendants of African slaves.

    1. I completely agree that a conflation/confusion of terms is a problem when it comes to identifying different cultural/ethnic affiliations! We’re far too guilty of this in the US.

      Sadly too few of us care to understand or appreciate geographic and cultural distinctions. Lots of room for improvement when it comes to precision of language!

  3. Hispanics are a mixturee of caucatian and american natives so dont be surprised that green or blue eyes come out of nowhere when they have babies since the genes do jump !
    I have travel to places like El salvador and the deeper you go in the rural areas you’ll find caucasian people that had less mestizo blood in them and more spanish problably because of the settlements being isolated also I went to a place in Peru and it was the same .

  4. I was born with brown eyes that changed to grey with a brown limbal ring along with red hair that changed to dirty blonde.

  5. Wow…what an article…when you say all do you mean all white babies…… please be specific. There are other races that this article would not apply to………diversify your articles please.

    1. Thanks for the comment! We love hearing from readers.

      This is actually a question we get a lot. Perhaps those who ask it are white and have that bias. We tried to answer it correctly with the scientific reasons for different eye colors. We specifically explain why this “old wive’s tale” is not true for all people.

  6. I was born really really dark knight my father with long dark brownish blackish hair with long hair towards the top and a big curly q and I had dark blue eyes that was crystal clear for at least 3 to 4 years of my life and then all the sudden they turned Hazel my mom has blue eyes and my father has hazel eyes but I didn’t think my skin color would change to a lighter color later on and then my I color would change around 3 or 4 also I think that’s a little weird but I was trying to figure out why that might have occurred because there was no tint of brown or gray or any splashes of any colors in my eyes period even if you went in the Sun there is no other color underneath of my eyes the dark blue Crystal Clear Eyes that I had I just think it’s a little strange and I was trying to figure out why and how that might have happened if you have any ideas let me know

  7. This is an important caveat that might be overlooked–

    “First of all, it’s definitely not true that all babies are born with blue eyes. Babies of African American, Hispanic and Asian descent are USUALLY always born with dark eyes that stay that way. ”

    Usually.

    Babies of African(not African American–there are peoples of African descent who’ve never set foot in the US), Hispanic and Asian descent can ALSO be born with the same deep blue eyes that will change as they grow older. It depends on the levels of melanin in their eyes when they are born.

    This is because a blue eye lurks under those green and brown eyes in everyone except total albinos.

  8. I never understood the saying “all Caucasians are born with blue eyes” because my birth certificate says I’m Caucasian (I assume I am) but I was born with very dark brown eyes and now that I am older they look almost black. But my mother has green eyes and my father has blue eyes
    (ToT)/~~~

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