Baby development and milestones: Your 3-month-old
The first year of a newborn's life is one of the fastest in human development, so what exactly can your tiny 3-month-old baby do now?
Once your baby turns 3 months old, he will no longer be considered a newborn and is now called an infant.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), during your neonate’s first 28 days of life, he is at the highest risk of not surviving, so it is extremely crucial that he is provided with appropriate feeding and care during this newborn stage.
Even though your little one has graduated to the next level and he still has a lot to learn, you’ll be amazed by his growth and development so far.
Physical development of a 3 month old baby
Your 3-month-old should be gaining more strength in his neck muscles and during tummy time (or when he is placed lying down on his front) he should be able to support his head and chest with his arms.
When your infant is lying on his tummy, you might also observe that he is able to stretch out his legs and kick, as he begins to gain more lower-body strength.
Neck strength and control
Your baby’s neck strength is noticeably improving by now and when you hold him upright, you will see that there is almost no more head wobbling.
Hand eye coordination
Your infant can now start to open and close his hands, bring them together together, and take a swipe at bright-coloured dangling toys in front of him as he begins to explore with his hands.
Hand to mouth
He can now grab a toy in his hands and move it straight to his mouth, or he will bring his hands to his mouth – so remember to give him baby-safe toys which are age appropriate and has no small parts which may accidentally be swallowed or is a choking hazard.
By 3 months, your bub may start to be able to roll onto his tummy when he is placed on his back – so be careful when you are changing his diaper or if you are playing with him on your bed.
Sensory development of a 3 month old baby
At this stage, your infant is becoming more aware of the things around him and he will be interested to touch and feel different textures.
You will notice that your baby will turn his head and smile at the sound of your voice and he will also start to show his love of listening to all kinds of music!
If you look at your baby, he will maintain eye contact by staring right back into your eyes and he will also enjoy gazing intently at his own reflection in the mirror.
Cognitive development of a 3 month old baby
Cause and effect
When your infant bats at a dangling toy and it moves, he will start to understand the basics of cause and effect in things and his brain will make thousands of connections as he concentrates on this new skill.
Follows moving object
Your infant’s eyes should be working together to move and focus, especially when something is moving in front of him – such as a toy or your hand.
Your baby’s sweet smile is no longer exclusively reserved for just mummy and daddy now and he will begin to be more generous with his grins with anyone who flashes him a smile first.
Your bub might be starting to get fascinated by other babies around him, or even his own reflection in the mirror.
At 3 months, your little one is trying to understand emotions and communication so is starting to link what you are saying to your facial expressions.
Speech development of a 3 month old baby
At this stage, crying will no longer be your baby’s main method of communication and he will start to express himself in other ways, like cooing and making vowel sounds, such as: Oh, Ooh, Ah.
The more you talk to your little one, the sooner he will be able start forming his own sounds and even making his own gestures when trying to communicate with you.
Games to play with your 3-month-old baby
It is important to interact with your infant to form a close bond and encourage his developing skills — so what sort of activities and games can you play with a tiny bub at this age?
Once Upon A Time
Your little one may not understand the words that you’re saying nor can he read yet, but reading aloud to your infant, no matter how young he is, will help him get familiar with different sounds, words, language and it will also introduce the value and joy of books.
What you need: Baby books with bright pictures
Skill development: Vision, language, speech
Reach and Grab
Now that your infant has more neck strength, better control of his head movements, and needs less support, he will enjoy reaching out and grabbing toys and things as he learns about the world around him.
Give him some brightly coloured toy rings or baby rattles for him to reach out to and watch as he stretches out to grasp it in his hand (and most likely bring it right into his mouth!).
What you need: Toy rings, baby rattles, brightly coloured age-appropriate toys
Skill development: Motor skills, hand eye coordination
At 3 months, your infant is becoming more aware of different people around him and will use his sense of smell as a way of telling the difference between the people he knows and strangers.
Try gathering a variety of things with pleasant scents such as flowers, spices, or cookies and pass them under your baby’s nose one at a time to see which smells he prefers.
What you need: Flowers, spice, cookies or anything else with a pleasant smell
Skill development: Smell
Your infant’s sense of touch is developing and he will enjoy exploring everything around him with his hands by touching and feeling them with his hands and fingers.
Provide him with an assortment of different textures, such as soft velvet, fluffy cotton, smooth leather, bumpy corduroy and more.
What you need: Various things of of different textures
Skill development: Touch, Motor skills
Everywhere you go, there’s bound to be someone with good intentions giving you all sorts of advice about your baby, so don’t get overwhelmed by the information overload.
Here are a few helpful tips for you to bear in mind for your 3-month-old:
You might notice that your baby might appear to be much taller and thinner now, but this is not because he is not getting enough nutrition, regardless of what your overly concerned in-law says.
It is actually due to his first growth spurt where his bones and muscles are growing and his limbs are now loosening up.
Sleeping through the night
Even though most babies may be sleeping through the night when they are 3-months-old, not every baby is the same and your little one might not have reached this particular sleep milestone just yet.
You are probably feeling exhausted from the sleepless nights and may be receiving advice on how to get your bub to sleep through the night by letting him just cry it out (the Ferber method).
However this might not work for your baby and may even go against your parenting beliefs, so just follow your gut instinct and do what you feel is right
Hold off on the solids
Do you have a know-it-all aunty who has advised you to try giving your infant some solid foods (such as putting baby rice cereal in his milk bottle or feeding him spoonfuls of mashed banana) to help him sleep through the night?
It is probably best if you ignore this advise because studies have shown that it is actually harmful for your little one at this age to eat solids as he does not have a mature digestive system yet so will not be able to process the food.
Introducing solids too early can also lead to obesity, trigger any possible allergic reactions, cause digestive problems, or even be a choking hazard which can potentially be fatal.
Babies are generally ready to have solids when they are around six months old, so right now you should just continue to let him get his nutrition from milk.
When to worry
Even though different babies will develop at different rates, you should take note if your little one is unable to do the following and bring it up with his doctor at the next check-up:
- Doesn’t respond to loud sounds (like a door slamming or car honking)
- Doesn’t notice his own hands
- Doesn’t smile at the sound of your voice
- Doesn’t follow moving objects with his eyes
- Doesn’t grasp and hold objects
- Doesn’t smile at other people
- Cannot support his head well
- Doesn’t reach for and grasp toys or things around him
- Doesn’t babble or have any baby talk nor imitates any of the sounds you make
- Doesn’t bring objects to his mouth
- Has difficulty moving one or both eyes in all directions
- Often crosses his eyes (although occasional crossing of the eyes is normal in the first few months)
- Doesn’t pay attention to new faces, or seems very scared of new faces or surroundings
Although it shouldn’t be a competition to see whose baby progresses faster than the other, there are a few certain milestones your 3-month-old should reach at this stage and if you are worried about your infant’s development, be sure to raise your concerns with his doctor.