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?
You now have a 3 month old baby! Where did time go? Wasn't it just yesterday that he was born? Now that your little one is three months old, he is no longer considered a newborn and is now called an infant.
Your little one certainly has come a long way, but still has lots to learn. With the right care and armed with the correct information, you'll be amazed by his growth and development this month, and in the months to come. Here's what to expect from your 3 month old baby.
3 Month old development and milestones: Is your baby on track?
Now that your infant is more versed in moving his hands, he will begin exploring the world around him with his hands and fingers. He will be touching, feeling, and grabbing a lot of things. He will even become 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.
Physically, he's looking more like a chubby cherub, now. His head and body seem more proportionate and you'll start to see cute rolls appear on his adorable thighs and arms.
At this stage, your child’s median length and weight* should be as follows:
– Length: 61.4 cm (24.2 inches)
– Weight: 6.4 kg (14.1lb)
– Length: 59.9 cm (23.6 inches)
– Weight: 6.0 kg (13.3lb)
And your child’s head circumference* should be:
- Boys: 40.5 cm (15.9 in)
- Girls: 39.5 cm (15.6 in)
Three months may not be a long time, but your little infant is growing much faster than you imagine. For instance, your 3 month old baby can now not only move his arms and coordinate how to move his hands by sight, but also have enough muscle strength to support his head.
In particular, your little one should be:
- gaining better upper-body strength, especially 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, and learn how to do mini push-ups in due time.
- gaining lower-body strength. By the end of this month, he should be able to stretch out his legs and kick with ease while lying down on his tummy.
- improving in terms of neck strength and control -- there is little to no head wobbling when you hold him upright.
- able to have some basic hand eye coordination, such as opening and closing his hands, bringing them together, and swiping at bright-coloured dangling toys in front of him.
- bring his hands closer to his mouth. He can now bring his hands towards his mouth, sometimes even after grabbing a toy. What's more, he can even blow bubbles and have some bubbly fun! Do remember to give him baby-safe, age appropriate toys without small parts, though. Small toys may be accidentally swallowed or act as a choking hazard.
- roll on his back. In a few weeks, your bub may begin to have the ability to roll onto his tummy when he is placed on his back. Do be careful when you are changing his diaper or if you are playing with him on your bed.
You'll also be glad to know that it's not just movement that your infant is capable of. His developing senses enable him to begin understanding the world a bit better, especially his sense of:
- Touch. At 3 months old, your infant is is becoming more aware of the things around him. He will be interested to touch and feel different textures. In fact, other than bringing things into his mouth, your baby will learn to bring their hands together in a week or so. They might even start batting at the toys which they grab!
- Sound. In a few days, your baby should be able to respond to the sound of your voice, turning his head and smiling at you. He will also start to show his love of listening to all kinds of music, and will turn toward loud sounds!
- Sight. Look at your baby. It's likely that he will maintain eye contact by staring right back into your eyes. He already probably knows your face, and definitely your scent, mummy! He might also even enjoy gazing intently at his own reflection in the mirror.
- Give him some brightly coloured toy rings, baby rattles or other age appropriate toys for him to reach out to. Watch as he stretches out to grasp it in his hand (and most likely bring it right into his mouth!).
- Provide your little one with an assortment of different textures, such as soft velvet, fluffy cotton, smooth leather, bumpy corduroy and more for him to touch. He will learn what different textures are while also learning how to use his fingers and muscles.
- 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.
When to see a doctor
If your child:
- Doesn’t grasp and hold objects
- Cannot support his head well
- Doesn’t reach for and grasp toys or things around him
- 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)
Three months after birth, your little bub is just beginning to understand the world around him. His developing brain is working hard to make sense of reality.
He is getting a better understanding of cause and effect, more often than not batting a dangling toy -- which causes it to move. He will start to understand the basics of cause (batting a dangling toy) and effect (causes it to move) in things. His brain will make thousands of connections as he concentrates on this new skill.
At 3 months old, your baby is also now much better at tracking objects that move. 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.
- Give your little one a headstart on learning about different body parts. Take a plushie or stuffed toy and tell him the names of each body part.
- "Beep" him. Make diaper-changing a fun activity by poking different body parts of your baby while saying "beep!". Your little one will become much more aware of your hand and even anticipate touch.
- Chat with your baby. Always talk to your little one using simple words and sentences of up to five words, even though he can't really understand you yet. He loves listening to your voice!
- Constantly provide him with a variety of activities. You can also divert his attention to something else or put him in a different room so that he has different things to look at.
When to see a doctor
If your baby:
- Does not respond to loud sounds (like a door slamming or car honking)
- Does not notice his own hands
- Does not follow moving objects with his eyes
Social and emotional development
Even though your little bub hasn't attended pre-school or met his peers, he is smart enough to understand how to interact with others from your social cues, mum and dad!
You'll notice that he will be more open to smiling at other people. Your baby's sweet smile is no longer exclusively reserved for just mummy and daddy now! He will begin to be more generous with his grins towards anyone who flashes him a smile first.
Your 3 month old baby's personality is really starting to show, as he gets more curious and friendly about others. Your bub will begin to become fascinated by the other babies around him, or even his own reflection in the mirror.
He is also trying to understand emotions and communication. He will begin to link what you are saying to your facial expressions.
- Show your little one pictures of family or friends (even other people in magazines are good), and show him people who are smiling.
- Return your baby's gaze and also talk to him softly. Try to imitate his reactions and the noises he makes.
- Show him his reflection. Place a mirror in front of the baby. Tap your little one's reflection and say his name. Eventually, your little one will know who the reflection in the mirror is.
- Sing to him and play him music.
When to see a doctor
If your baby:
- Rarely smiles at other people
- Does not smile at the sound of your voice
- Does not pay attention to new faces, or seems very scared of new faces or surroundings
Speech and Language Development
Rejoice, mums! Your little bub is learning how to interact with other people in ways other than crying.
At this stage, crying will no longer be your baby’s main method of communication. Within the coming days, he will start to express himself in other ways, like cooing, gurgling, squealing and making vowel sounds, such as: Oh, Ooh, Ah.
- Engage in baby talk. 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.
- Read loud to him. Your little one may not understand the words that you're saying, or even read. Yet, reading aloud to your infant, no matter how young he is, will help him get familiar with different sounds, words and languages . It will also introduce the value and joy of books to him. Do choose baby books with bright pictures to capture your little one's eyes, too!
When to see a doctor
If your baby:
- Does not gurgle or coo
- Cries inconsolably for long periods
Health and nutrition
Three months after birth, your little one should be around 56.4 - 60.4 cm long and weigh between 4.9 and 6.3kg.
Contrary to popular belief, babies at this age should not start solid food yet. Studies have shown that introducing solid food too early is actually harmful for your little one at this age.
As he does not have a mature digestive system yet, it is very likely that will not be able to process or digest the food. Introducing solids too early can also lead to obesity, trigger 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. Right now, your breastmilk offers your 3 month old baby all the nutrition he needs.
Also, do remember that growing babies don't just need food to nourish their bodies: they also need enough sleep. Some babies might be sleeping for longer at night by this age. But then again, every baby develops differently. So it's okay if your little one might not have reached this particular sleep milestone just yet.
At 3 months old, your baby should get the following vaccinations:
- DTaP - 1st dose: Immunisation against Diphtheria, Pertussis & Tetanus
- IPV - 1st dose: Immunisation against Poliomyelitis
- Hib - 1st dose: Haemophilus influenza type b vaccine
- Pneumococcal Conjugate - 1st dose: Immunisation against Pneumococcal Disease
Take note that since your child is still very young, he can still be exposed to common childhood illnesses like:
- Respiratory Syncytial virus, which has symptoms like runny nose, nasal congestion, and heavy breathing
- Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease, which may present itself via fever and sore throat, with some rashes on the palms, sole, trunk and diaper area.
- Scarlet fever, which has symptoms l a sore throat and red rash around the neck and face.
Note: Never give your baby medicine that is not prescribed by a paediatrician.
- A good way to pacify your baby during vaccinations is to breastfeed him while he's getting the jabs.
- Some babies develop fever after vaccinations -- speak to the doctor about the best way of managing this.
- You don't need to give your baby water if you are still breastfeeding him. On hot days, just increase the frequency of nursing.
- While your baby's immune system is getting stronger by the day, it's still not fully developed. Avoid bringing him into crowded places and other people should always wash their hands before touching or carrying him.
When to see a doctor
If your baby:
- Has a suspicious rash
- Displays noisy or laboured breathing
- Has a sudden loss of appetite
- Has fever of 37.8 degrees Celsius or higher
- Shows symptoms that persist over a few days, such as diarrhoea and coughing
While different babies develop at a different pace, there are certain milestones your 3 month old should reach at this stage. If you are worried about your infant's development, be sure to consult your child's doctor as soon as possible.
Republished with permission from theAsiaparent
*Disclaimer: This is the median length and weight, and head circumference according to WHO standards)