Holding her head steady
During this month, your baby may be able to lift her head while on her back and hold it for several minutes. If sitting with support, she may be able to hold her head steady and erect. When she’s on her stomach, you might see her lifting her head and chest as if she were doing mini-pushups. You can offer encouragement by sitting in front of her and dangling a toy.
Better arm, leg, and hand co-ordination
Your baby can now wave her arms and kick her legs. As her hip and knee joints become more flexible, her kicks are getting stronger. And if you hold her up with her feet on the floor she should push down on her legs now. She can bring both hands together and open her fingers, though she’ll probably use a closed fist to bat at dangling objects. (Of course, swatting at a toy or other object is developmental progress in itself!) Encourage her hand development by holding out a toy to see if she’ll grasp it.
Sleeping patterns getting more manageable
Starting about now, sleep-deprived parents may get some respite.
By three to four months, your child’s sleep patterns start to settle down. Many babies this age can even sleep through the night, though they may still wake up for the occasional feeds. But some children may not sleep through the night (which, for the first year, usually means just six hours at a time), for a good three to six months, so don’t worry if your baby still wants to keep you up at night.
Clear recognition of mom and dad
By three months, and probably earlier, your baby will have formed an attachment to you and be familiar with your face. Most likely she will still smile at strangers, especially when they look her straight in the eye and coo or talk to her. But she’s beginning to sort out who’s who in her life and definitely prefers some people to others.
The parietal lobe, the part of the brain that governs hand-eye coordination and allows a person to recognize objects, is developing rapidly now. And the temporal lobe, which assists with hearing, language, and smell, has also become more receptive and active. So when your baby hears your voice now, she may look directly at you and start gurgling or trying to talk back.
Start reading to her now
Reading to a child, no matter how small, will pay off. It helps your baby develop an ear for the cadence of language — in fact, varying the pitch of your voice, using accents, singing, and vocalising make the aural connection between you and your baby that much more stimulating. But don’t worry if she looks the other way or loses concentration — adjust her stimulation by trying something else, or give her time to rest. Co-ordinate your interactions with her responses and interest.
There are also plenty of good books to read to your baby. Choose board books with large, bright pictures and simple text — or even wordless books with pictures for you to narrate.
But at this point you needn’t be slavish to age guidelines. Books designed for older children with clear, crisp images and bright colours can captivate a baby. Or you can even read poetry originally written for adult ears. What your baby doesn’t understand will nonetheless delight her because of its musicality (you’ll probably be amused as well).
Early language development
This is a sensitive time when verbal stimulation is particularly important for your baby. Seize the moment and engage her with a variety of words and sounds. Recent research locallinks higher intelligence levels to how many words a child hears in the first year of life. This is the time to set a sound foundation. Even a trip to the mall can be a chance to stimulate your child — as you roam the aisles, point to objects and identify them by name. Your baby can’t repeat these words yet, but she’s storing all the information in her rapidly developing memory.
A baby in a bilingual home will get double the language training if she regularly hears both languages spoken. If you’d like her to learn more than one language, have each parent speak to her in a different language.
Touch becoming more sensitive
Stimulate your baby’s sense of touch with materials such as fur, tissue, felt, and terrycloth, or look for books that make touching a part of the reading experience. Touching, carrying, and massaging your baby, along with moving her through the surrounding air when you lift her, are powerful ways to relax her and may even increase her alertness and attention span.
Beginning to interact with others
Your child is set on "receive," drawing conclusions about the world around her. By now, she may respond to her face in the mirror by smiling (babies love looking at themselves), and she may stop sucking her thumb or bottle to listen to your voice. By cooing or making noises at her, and by describing even the most mundane household chore, you’re not only connecting with her but also encouraging her to express herself. Even with others, your baby is becoming more animated and engaging — flashing smiles, oohing and cooing. The fun has really begun. When you’re with friends, keep her nearby so she can hear the richness of human interaction.
Is my baby developing normally?
Remember, each baby is unique and meets social milestones at her own pace. These are simply guidelines to what your baby has the potential to accomplish — if not right now, then shortly.
And if your baby was born prematurely, you’ll probably find that she needs time before she can do the same things as other children her age. Don’t worry. Most doctors assess a premature child’s development from the time she should have been born and evaluate her skills accordingly.
If you have any questions at all about your baby’s development, check with your doctor.