How to Work with 3 Month Old baby on their Milestones
Knowing if your 3 month old baby is on track for healthy development is important, but with everything else to balance when a baby comes – whether you are pregnant with your first one or trying to juggle more than one – newborn development can seem even trickier to follow.
For me, baby milestones might as well have been renamed something more like “Worry Markers for Mothers” or “Measurements for How Normal Your Kid Is” when I was pregnant. The first time I heard of them, shortly after finding out I was pregnant with my son, I immediately started down the inevitable chain of thought into the rabbit hole of “Mommy Worry:” What milestones do I need to know? What do I do if my child does not meet his or her milestones? Does that make me a bad mother, or does it mean my child will have problems? How can I help my son or daughter achieve his or her milestones?
Oh, God, what are my in-laws going to say if my child does not meet his or her milestones?
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Thank goodness for logic. My doctor explained to me very easily milestones are just general expectations babies have around certain times in their lives; she stressed the developmental milestones, from week-to-week to month-to-month, from newborn development to toddler development, are just guidelines for every child. And when it comes down to it, every child is different. I relaxed quite a bit as she walked me through several examples. Even though I was not even four months along yet, I was comforted greatly by knowledge. There is nothing more calming in the face of “what if” and “what could be” than “what to expect” and “what do to if…happens.”
Her tutorial was a needed reminder following the birth of my son, especially in the first three months of his life. As a first-time mother, I wanted to make sure of two things: First, that my son was on par with his infant reflexes, and second, that I was being a good mommy by helping him to learn the reflexes he needed to know.
3 month old baby
The First Month is the Longest Month
The first month heralds much excitement in a mother. We have instantly dropped close, if not more, to ten pounds from giving birth, and we are getting acquainted with our little one. The baby’s development stages all start off with simple ways of getting to know you. Looking at your face, as his or her mother, is one of the first ones. Your baby should be able to look up at you as the first month continues; you can see this as late as the third month, however, so if your child does not look up at your face until then, it is okay. He might just be more interested in something else; my son really liked to watch his mobile when he was getting his diaper changed or when I would put him down in his crib.
The goal is to get your baby to make eye contact with you. To check eye contact, hold your baby at arm’s length in front of your face, or lay him on his back at a similar distance. I would put my son and my daughter on the floor on a blanket, and then lean over them. Focus your gaze into your baby’s face. Your baby should be able to make eye contact with you here. I would often talk to them like this, to get them not only to look at me, but get them to start babbling. It was just so cute; I wanted to see if they would “talk back” to me.
In the same line, one of the next baby milestones is how they react to loud sounds or intensify and ceases activities. This helps test their hearing abilities, and it is simple; all you need to do is check the baby’s reaction to loud sounds. For this one, it really is a learning process; the babies don’t know how to react to them at first. I had to learn that myself; when my daughter didn’t react to my dog barking at first, I felt the worry creeping in. But later on, she started laughing at the dog when it would bark, so that might explain why she didn’t jump or flinch or cry right away.
To check this more objectively, lay your baby on his back on a flat surface. Clap your hands; make sure you hold them where your baby cannot see. Your baby should respond to loud noises, either stopping his activity, or intensifying his facial expressions, movements of limbs, or sucking. At one month, the baby might not move around a lot to see where the sound is coming from; at three months, he might be more comfortable moving his head towards the sound.
On a more physical level, in the first month, a baby is expected to begin making symmetrical movements in his or her body. What this means is your baby’s movements should be similar, though not identical, for each of her arms and legs. To check the symmetry of the baby’s movement, you will need to lay your baby on her back and watch her movements.
Speed and strength should be relatively similar in all limbs, so that there is no arm or leg that your baby has significantly less actions than the others’ movements.
These are some of the first key milestones. One of my favorite things to keep in mind in life and with kids is that the more you try to do, the less you will get done. If you can check those four milestones on your own, and feel comfortable (or at least not uncomfortable) doing them, that is a good start.
How to Work with 3 Month Old baby on their Milestones
Second Month Starts
As the first month rolls into the second, the physical movements start to become more pronounced. You will see your baby start to move more often, and with more confidence. I once told my husband after the second month, I was used to the baby’s weight and it was much easier to hold them on my end; for both of mine, the power they were comfortable wielding with their arms and legs made me more comfortable.
During the second month, if your child has begun to look at your face, you might also see him start to use his eyes to follow a moving object. I saw this pretty early with my son; we had two cats at our house, and just looking at him, I could tell he wanted to know what they were. I would pull them down and let him “pet” them. He would begin to watch them as they wrangled themselves free. By the time my daughter came, the cats were used to having a baby around, so they came up to her on their own.
To check the ability to make eye contact and facial movements in motion, or follow an object in motion, you can lay your baby on his back or hold him in your lap in front of another person. When the baby is looking, move your face left and right (just a few inches each way) through the center of his vision, at a distance of about 20-30 inches from your baby’s eyes. Since you are his mother (or father) and he is familiar with you, you can see if he will follow your face. You can also do this step with an object such as a rattle or another toy, or even a cat like I did. The key for the first couple of tries is not to accompany the tests with voices or sounds. Your baby should be able to follow the face of the parent or the object at a pace of the other person, or the object he held before his eyes.
Third Month and Fourth Developments
Since babies are all different, their measurements, both on the infant growth charts and the baby development milestones, might be all different, no matter how many kids you have (although some might be the same). You should try to see the baby stages with each child as a continuation; each day they are getting older and as they learn something new, they can still do the old moves, too.
This is seen in getting your child to follow your face as you move across his line of vision. This is similar to the previous milestone, which is the start on helping him develop the next developmental milestone; this is the milestone where he follows movements across the midline of his vision. To check your baby’s ability to make eye contact and the ability to track face movement or an object in motion, get him ready to watch you. You can do this by laying him on his back or sitting up in someone else’s lap. When your baby moves his eyes up, move your head to the left and right through the center (this time, about a foot each way) about 20-30 inches away from your baby’s eyes. You can repeat the action with any object or toy. Like the previous milestone check, there should not be any noise around to help your baby be able to focus. Your baby should be able to follow our face or the object at your own pace, or the object you hold before his eyes.
Remember that this step is more complicated for your child than the previous one; as a result, while this milestone shows up as early as the second month; it might not come until the fourth month. I have learned several times over that some babies just don’t even reach some of the baby stages. My son started crawling at five months, and was walking by ten months; my daughter, watching her brother play and run around with our dog, didn’t start crawling until eight months, and she wanted to walk so badly her crawling was neglected. But even though she wants to walk more than she likes crawling, there’s one milestone that was my favorite with both of my children: smiling.
If your baby smiles in response to social stimulation, you have reached another milestone, and this is a happy one. Talk to your baby, or tease her with a nice touch to the face or chin, to examine if your baby is smiling and responding to this stimulus. I loved it when both of my kids started smiling; it was just a magical moment. I could see they were happy, and furthermore, when they began to smile, I could see it as a sign as to what made them happy. Seeing them grin at my husband, or smile as they see me headed their way, or how happy they looked when would see the dog or cats, would just fill me with such joy.
While I have gone over some of the earlier milestones – the eye contact, tracking, similar movements, and smiling – I want to assure you any of these could pop up at any time during the first three months, and some even into the fourth month. It is important to check the milestones to make sure your baby is developing well and keeping up on his or her progress. If your child does not do any of these, it should be a sign to take them to the doctor to get them checked out. The important thing here is just that you are paying attention to your child, and you know your child well enough to see if something is wrong or something needs to be checked out by a specialist.
As your baby grows, you as their parent should be able to see if something is off. Each child has his or her own personality as well as level of ability. I knew of one little girl who was born around the same time as my son, and she did not smile very often. She started smiling more frequently later on as a toddler, but as a baby, she was just very serious. There wasn’t anything wrong with her; it was all personality.
As a parent, you should be able to see the milestones. Before the baby comes, it seems like a lot of work to watch for them or to help the babies develop the skills and abilities. But in the first three months, your world bends and surrounds your child. You love your baby, and you will be watching him or her constantly. You will want to get to know them and help them develop. The first month of both my children’s lives were very long, but they were also very short; once I had them, I fell in love with them, and after you fall, there is a blissful sort of recovery period as you realign your priorities. Each minute was precious and celebrated, but it all seemed very short by the time the fourth month started.
The first three months of your child’s life are filled with learning, and learning about each other. While the baby stages and development milestones might seem stressful, you will have the best aid in getting through them: the unconditional, powerful love of your child.
Which 0-3 milestones did you try? Did your baby go over them all or skip one or two? We would love to hear from you.