In this study 14 healthy term newborns (postnatal mean age 2.1 days) underwent photic stimulation during sleep on two different days. Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) and electroencephalography (EEG) was acquired simultaneously. The aims of the study were: to determine (i) the sensitivity and (ii) the repeatability of NIRS to detect the hemodynamic response, (iii) the sensitivity and (iv) the repeatability of EEG to detect a visual evoked potential (VEP), (v) to analyze optical data for the optical neuronal signal, and (vi) to test whether inadequate stimulation could be reason for absent hemodynamic responses. The results of the study were as follows. (i) Sensitivity of NIRS was 61.5% to detect hemodynamic responses; (ii) their reproducibility was 41.7%. A VEP was detected (iii) in 96.3% of all subjects with (iv) a reproducibility of 92.3%. (v) In two measurements data met the criteria for an optical neuronal signal. The noise level was 9.6·10-5% change in optical density. (vi) Insufficient stimulation was excluded as reason for absent hemodynamic responses. We conclude that NIRS is an promising tool to study cognitive activation and development of the brain. For clinical application, however, the sensitivity and reproducibility on an individual level needs to be improved.