The First Year: 3 Month Milestones

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Updated on Jun 10, 2012

Gone are the new parent doubts of the first couple of months—you're actually figuring out this parenting thing! And, if your lucky, your unpredictable newborn has probably blossomed into a smiling, cooing infant. Of course, as soon as you get used to a routine, your baby's development can interrupt it, leaving you scratching your head a bit. Knowing exactly what to expect this month means you shouldn't have any surprises. Instead, you can foster your babe's development with games, activities, and even with the all-powerful lullaby.

Starts to Play with Toys. In the past couple of months, you've probably shaken a rattle for your little one, but there's a good chance she was completely uninterested. Around 3 months, babies finally develop the reflex and the brain power to grab ahold of a rattle or other toy and interact with it instead of just hanging on. Yup, it's true—you finally get to play with your baby!

  • Offer toys that make sounds, light up, or have interesting textures. Your little one will love to see the different ways the toy changes with different movements, and you'll get some downtime while your tiny explorer is otherwise engaged.
  • Practice passing a rattle or other toy back and forth between you. No, it's definitely not intellectually stimulating for your brain, but it's a great way for your baby to test out her muscles, coordination, and even her understanding of cause and effect.

Lifts her Head and Chest. Tisa Johnson-Hooper, a pediatrician with Henry Ford Hospital says that, at 3 months old, "your baby raises both head and chest when lying on [her] stomach." Once your baby's able to push her head, neck, and chest off of a blanket while lying in her stomach, daily tummy time won't be such a pain anymore. Your independent cutie will love to hang out on her tummy when she realizes that she can control her body.

  • Give your baby plenty of time to help her test out her new tummy skills. Pediatric physical therapist Magda Oledzka notes, "The long-term goal is for an infant to tolerate playing on the belly by 3-4 months of age up to 15 minutes, 3-4 times a day."
  • Make tummy time fun! Get down on the floor with her and shake a toy to one side, the other side, and up to the ceiling to get your baby to twist her head and neck, and try pushing herself up higher. This is important practice for crawling.

Moves Differently. Newborns seem to always have their fists clenched, which is a completely instinctual action. As your baby nears the 3 and 4 month marks, she'll start to relax that death grip she always seems to have with her hands, instead splaying her fingers so she can better interact with the world around her. She'll even start reaching out for things that catch her eye.

  • Offer her plenty of practice in handling new objects. Something as simple as a wooden spoon has a new texture and shape for your baby to test out—just make sure she doesn't start waving it around too hard!
  • "Allow baby to explore her environment from different positions," suggests Johnson-Hooper. Whether it's the swing, a blanket on the floor, or from a baby carrier, make sure you're always at arm's length away; never leave your babe unsupervised, even for a few short minutes.
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