Your three month old's development (2024)

Your baby is getting ready to wow you with some three month milestones. With increased strength in your three-month-old’s head and neck muscles, they’ll soon be working on rolling over and nailing tummy time. At three months you may also start to see sleep patterns forming, and will be treated to even more smiles, coos and gurgles from your little one as you bond. Here’s what else you need to know about your baby’s development.

What can my baby do this month?

Your baby is likely to be cooing and babbling away to you by now, maybe in response to something you say (Aites, Schonwald 2019). You can help to develop your three-month- old’s language skills by talking to them throughout the day. Try chatting about what you’re doing as you do it, even if it’s just loading the washing machine (Mayo Clinic 2023, Pathways 2019).

You may also notice your baby waving their arms and kicking their legs (Child Mind Institute 2023, Pathways 2019, Caring for Kids 2017a). And, if you hold your baby up with their feet touching the floor, they should push down on their legs now (Pathways 2019).

Your three-month-old can also likely bring both hands together, open their fists, and play with their fingers. They may even use a closed fist to bat at dangling objects (Ailes 2019, Child Mind Institute 2023). You can help to improve your baby’s hand-eye coordination by holding out a toy to see if they’ll grasp it.

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When will my baby be able to hold their head steady?

Your baby’s neck is getting stronger. During this month, they may be able to lift their head and chest while lying on their tummy, as if they were starting to do a push-up (Ailes 2019, Child Mind Institute 2023). Sit in front of your baby and dangle a toy to see if they’ll push up towards it (Healthy WA nd-a). If your baby is sitting with support, they may be able to hold their head steady and erect.

Giving your three-month-old plenty of tummy time will help to strengthen their neck and back muscles (Pathways 2019, Healthy WA nd-a).

When will my baby be able to roll over?

At three months, your baby may roll from back to side (HealthLink BC 2018, Ailes 2019). Your baby may learn to roll over without warning, which could surprise you and them! So, it’s a good idea to start changing their diaper on the floor when you can, just in case. If you cannot change them on the floor, be sure not to leave them alone when changing their diaper on a raised surface (GoC 2018).

When will my baby sleep through the night?

Starting about now, sleep-deprived parents may begin to get some respite. By three months to four months, your baby’s sleep patterns should start to settle down (Caring for Kids 2017b).

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Some babies this age can even sleep through, though many babies will still wake up for night feeds for at least a few months yet (HealthyWA nd-b).

If your baby is still keeping you up at night, this stage won’t last much longer!

Has my baby bonded with me yet?

By the time they’re three months old, your baby will know that you’re special. They have learned that you’re the one who comes to them most often, when they need something. They’ll smile when you look happy and may look worried when you seem upset (Healthy WA nd-a).

Your three month old will still smile at, and engage with, strangers, especially when they look your baby straight in the eye and talk to them (Healthy WA nd-a). But your baby is starting to recognize who’s who in their life. They may be able to spot your face at a distance and might smile and gurgle when they hear your voice (KidsHealth 2017, Child Mind Institute 2023).

Should I read to my baby?

Your baby is too young to follow stories, but reading to them is a lovely way to bond, and will help to promote their speech and language skills in the future (Scott 2017, KidsHealth 2019).

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When reading to your baby, try changing the pitch of your voice, and sing to capture their interest (Caring for Kids 2018). Studies show that babies pay more attention when listening to a "singsong," higher pitched voice (First Words 2020).

But take note of your baby’s cues for "I’ve had enough" (Caring for Kids 2018). If they look the other way, they may be over it or tired. Try something else or just give them time to rest.

Now’s a good time to bring in a short story as part of your baby’s naptime and bedtime routine (Caring for Kids 2017b, Caring for Kids 2018). There are plenty of good books to read to your baby. Choose cloth or board books with large, bright pictures, which have a rhyming text (KidsHealth 2019).

You could also go for a book designed for older children. As long as it has clear, crisp images and bright colours, it will still enthrall your baby. You can even read them a magazine. At this stage, your baby mostly enjoys the sound and rhythm of your speech, even though they don’t know the words (KidsHealth 2019).

How can I help my baby to learn and use words?

Now that your baby is babbling and gurgling, talking to them will encourage their learning of different words and sounds (Healthy WA nd-a).

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Repeating simple words, such as "mommy," "daddy" and "baby," and using words that contain repeated sounds, such as "woof woof," can help your baby’s language skills (Laing 2016).

Try to shorten your words and sentences. Speak more slowly and pause between phrases to give your baby time to respond, with either sounds or gestures, to what you’re saying (First Words 2020).

Chatting to your baby as you play with them, and during daily activities such as diaper-changing, bathing and dressing, will help with their communication skills and teach them to express themselves. Even a trip to the store can be a chance to chat with your three-month-old. As you browse the aisles, show them objects and name them as you put them into the cart (Healthy WA nd-a, Caring for Kids 2018, First Words 2020).

Your baby will enjoy listening to you talk with friends and family. They cannot repeat any words yet, but are learning about language through how you speak with others (First Words 2020). And they’ll store it all in their rapidly developing memory.

If your home is bilingual, try to make sure that your baby hears both languages spoken often, right from birth (ASHA nd). Speaking more than one language will not only broaden their linguistic skills, but may also improve their social and cognitive skills (such as improved memory) (Byers-Heinlein, Lew-Williams 2013).

How is my baby’s sense of touch developing?

You may notice your baby trying to reach out and touch things close by. You can engage their sense of touch with a range of materials and temperatures. Try fake fur, tissue, felt, a wooden block, a feather, or a cool window in the fall. You can also look for touchy-feely books with different textures (KidsHealth 2017).

Your baby loves your touch. Stroking, carrying, massaging, lifting and rocking your three-month-old can help them to relax.

You can keep having skin-to-skin time with your baby for as long as they enjoy it. If you breastfeed, you’ll have the chance at every feed to enjoy this close time with them.

If you give your baby formula feed, undoing your shirt and holding them close as you give them the bottle will give both of you the benefits of skin-to-skin. You can also share a bath, or simply enjoy lots of cuddles.

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Is my baby developing as they should be?

Each baby is unique and meets milestones at their own pace. These are simply guidelines as to what your baby might be able to do, if not right now, then soon.

If your baby was born prematurely (before 37 weeks of pregnancy), you may well find that they need more time before they can do the same things as other babies their age can (Healthy Children 2017). That’s why most babies born prematurely are given two ages by their doctors:

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  • Chronological age, which is calculated from your baby’s date of birth.
  • Corrected age, which is based on your baby’s due date. (Healthy Children 2017).

You should measure your premmie baby’s development against their corrected age, not their actual date of birth. Your health care provider will also assess your baby’s development from the time they should have been born (Healthy Children 2017).

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If you have any questions at all about your baby’s development, talk to your health care provider.

Go backtwo months

Go on to four months to find out what your baby may do next!

Your three month old's development (2024)
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