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Milestones for Your 3 to 6 Month Old Baby

Milestones

After the baby arrives, your appreciation for rest and organization grows quickly and substantially. Between the newborn baby crying, the feedings every few hours, doctor appointments, the infant growth charts, the child development stages, and the occasional cold, things can get hectic. I know in the first few months after my children came, I always felt like I was scrambling around, trying to make sure I had everything in its place so everything ready to go right when I needed it. However, by the time the third month came around, things had gotten into enough of a routine that life became much easier and rest was much more possible. One of the things that became much easier at this point was the baby milestones.

Milestones for Your 3 to 6 Month Old Baby

3 Months In

At three months old, my children had made themselves unforgettable to me. I once told my mother I could not remember not having them, and so when I would remember something from a long time ago, I would add them into the picture. My children had come, and surrounded themselves in my heart and mind so much I was making new memories with them from old ones.

As much of a hindrance this might have been for some things – such as remembering old time with friends – it also helped me remind me of their milestones. At the three-month mark, I was able to look for and identify new milestones for my kids; before, I had needed some help from their doctors and my husband and other family members.

The other part of the reason this became much easier is because there were different kinds of milestones popping up around the third month. There were social milestones, same as before the three month mark, but there were also gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and language skills to look for now.

Social Milestones

One of the best milestones every parent looks for is whether their child is smiling or not. We do it so often while we look at our children, especially in those first few months; when they begin to smile back, it is like making a new friend.

The key with this social milestone to count is to see if your baby will smile in response to social stimulation; many parents will mistake the gassy smiles or the sleepy grins for true smiles. I know they look sweet, but the milestone is technically not met unless the smile is in response to a social situation. For my kids, some of their first smiles were when my husband would tickle their feet or if I would sing them to sleep. (That is part of the reason I thought my kids smiled early – they smiled as they slept!)

Smiling is a milestone that can actually happen before three months as well, but on average, it comes up in the three-month milestone range. To check the ability of your child to smile in response to social stimulation, there are many ways to choose to engage with them. You can talk to your baby, teasing him with a nice touch to the face, or chin; you can examine if your baby is smiling and responding to this stimulation from your voice or touch. As you can see, this is a pretty easy one to do; many parents coo and gush over their babies so much, they can check for this milestone and not even be aware of it.

As the three-month mark passes into the fourth month,  spontaneous smiles become more common; this is where your baby will begin to smile from time to time while he or she is awake, and they are not being socially engaged. Many times, my son and daughter would smile while watching our animals, or if they were playing in the baby swing we had set up for them.  You can check the ability to smile spontaneously by examining whether your baby smiles spontaneously from time to time (i.e. not initiated in response to a stimulus.) The key difference in this spontaneous smile is just to make sure they are not engaging with you or another person while they are smiling; they are just smiling as part of their ‘resting face.’ In addition to smiling, other social milestones become easy to check on.

Before three months, babies can often begin to ‘track’ objects as they cross the middle line of their vision. This ability improves throughout the third to sixth months.  To see your baby’s ability to make eye contact and the ability to track face movement or an object in motion, put your baby on his back or hold him in front in your lap facing towards you. When your baby moves his eyes up, move your head to the left and right through the center about 20-30 inches away from your baby’s eyes. Repeat the action with any object; for this practice, make sure there are no sounds or voices accompanying the action. By the end of the sixth month, this should be a regular practice for your baby. I saw this one early on with my kids, thanks to my cats and my dogs; on a side note, if you can do pets with your babies, it is a great way to keep them stimulated and interested! Even after the first months are over, pets can help with the fine and gross motors skill developments.

Milestones for Your 3 to 6 Month Old Baby

Fine Motor Skills at Four Months In

As your baby grows, she will eventually get more fidgety as well; this is when you will see more fine motor skills starting to appear. Fine motor skills are smaller muscle movements, which often happen while the baby focuses on the movements. For example, he or she might become fixated on her toes and, as a result, start to move their feet.

Around the time of the four-month mark, crossing fingers, playing with hands, and making movements with her fingers and feet will become regular occurrences.  If you want to see if your baby wants to play with his hands and the ability for fingers integration, lay your baby on her back and on a flat surface. Look at her and examine whether she plays with her hands in front of her body, whether she brings them to her mouth, and whether she is able to cross her fingers between her two hands. My daughter still often falls asleep with her hands together, with her fingers laced; my son, however, often began to grab and play with his toes at when he was four months old.

Grabbing is another key infant milestone that also occurs alongside this one. I experienced a lot of this with both of my kids; they would grab objects around this time, so I had to be more careful about what I placed next to them. I remember my son would often grab a toy and then drop it from his highchair, and then look over at me and cry so I would pick it up. For my daughter, I had to watch out for this one with my hair; she liked to grab my hair quite a bit at this age, and she did not grow out of it very quickly, much to my dismay. On the bright side, she got a lot of practice.

You can check your baby’s expression of interest in an external object and the ability to control his arms. To do this, set your baby on his back or hold him in your lap, close to your body. Give him an object comfortable for grip this from a short distance and encourage him to reach out and touch or grab the object. Pay attention to do this each hand separately. Once more, I recommend doing this with a toy or a blanket – not your hair! I did help transition my kids’ interest in my hair to my pets, however. I would often sit with them on my lap and let them ‘pet’ the kitties or the dog. While I am sure my pets were less than thrilled, they have a better chance of dodging my kids and their grasping hands more than I do. If you have pets, this can help the pets get used to the kids as well. Or at least, train them to stay away from your kids.

Gross Motor Skills Get Going

During the three to six month old milestone range, fine motor skills are not the only things that are begin developed. This is also when gross motor skills begin to show up. Motor skills are general movements the body makes using the brain, nervous system, and muscles. Fine motor skills are smaller muscle groups, and the gross motor skills are the larger ones. As a result, your babies might all move at different times, since coordination of the larger muscles can be tricky when they are infants.

One of the first milestones for the gross motor skills that comes up is your child’s ability to lift his head and chest supported by the elbows and forearms. This is one of the milestones that can be very different child to child. Typically, it will still come up in the third or fourth month. Your baby’s ability to lift his head and chest, and his ability to lean on his elbows and forearms when lying on his stomach can be developed with Tummy Time. This is how my kids did it; my husband would put a blanket down on our floor and lay them down on their stomach, and he would help them to hold their head up. He would also arrange their forearms on the ground so they would get used to the position. You can do the same thing; just lay your baby on his stomach and on a level surface. Encourage him to lift his head and chest through stimulation, and while you can show him what do it, let him try it without helping him. Your baby should be able to lift his head and chest with the support of his forearms, with the intention to reach an object or to glance at one.

To encourage our babies, my husband would put his keys down in front of them; the shining keys was an instant appeal for both of our kids. You can also do this with toys, or I would occasionally get in front of them and try to get them to watch me with their eyes.

Along with this milestone, many babies develop the ability to hold their heads steady.  You can see this if you lift your baby with your hands, without relying on your body. Your baby’s head needs to remain stable; check that it is not slipping back. When my son first came, I would gather him close to me, and hold him upright in my arms, so I could get a good look at him; this is often when he would practice holding his head steady. I did the same thing with my daughter, since being upright really seemed to help them both practice keeping their head and necks stable.

For this one, you can combine these last two milestones to get your baby to lift his head and chest while relying on the hands with the elbows straight; this is something your baby usually does a bit later on, around the fifth month, up to even the eighth month.  Check the elevation of your baby’s head and chest, having all of his body weight relying on his hands when lying on his stomach. You can see this as you encourage him to lift his head and chest through stimulation, without helping him by touching his back or bottom. Your baby should be able to lift his head and chest while relying on the hands with the elbows straight and locked with the intention of reaching an object that is close him, to or look at it. For this one, I found practice to be the key. Between Tummy Time and holding them upright to cuddle, my kids caught on pretty quickly when it came to keeping their head and neck stable.

Another favorite milestone of parents tends to be when their child will turn from his tummy to his back, and vice versa. Babies will usually learn this sometime between the third and seventh month, but a lot of it depends on incentive. My son learned to turn over very quickly, because he liked to try to sneak away from me while I changed his diapers; my daughter, much more docile, would just flail her arms and legs while she was getting her diapers changed. To check this milestone, lay your baby on a flat and secure surface. Attract his attention with a toy or rattle at an angle of 45 degrees above his head and encourage him to roll over in both directions. Your baby has to roll over by a deliberate push of his body (through the shoulder or pelvis), and not because of accidental fall following the lifting of the head. Usually rolling over from the back to the belly comes first and only after comes rolling from belly to the back. This is because today many babies do not spend much time on their belly; I saw this in both of my children, and most of my friends with kids will agree.

Milestones

Talk to Me, Baby

It is hard for me to imagine any parent to not enjoy the language milestones. I always felt a need to communicate to my kids, and when they started reciprocating, it was like an answer to prayer. I had some definite clues as to what they wanted, and because of this, I was quicker in getting them to stop crying or I could make them laugh more easily.

Making sounds in response to stimulation (not just crying) can start as early as the third month; there are different sounds a baby makes for different things, and once you are able to tell which is which, life gets much easier. Or as easy as it can be with an infant around, anyway.

To examine the development of communication and the ability to produce sounds, put your baby on his back, on a safe surface, or hold him in your lap – whichever is easier for making eye contact – and then make some gentle sounds. Give your baby time to listen to your voice and react to the sounds. Repeat this procedure two or three times, and see if they will mimic you or try to respond, but only after you have given them something to respond to.

Laughing comes around four months, and comes after your baby has developed the ability to smile. Laughing is a fun milestone to check for, as you encourage your baby to laugh aloud through facial expressions, or tickling. Tickling worked best on my kids, but my husband was better at getting them to laugh than I was.

When your baby begins to mumble or babble, it is always a sign they are growing in the language skills. To check the ability to produce sounds, all you need to do is encourage your baby to make sounds by talking, looking, and acting – and let him listen, and respond. Your baby should make vocal sounds and other noises, when playing, or when excited, or when he is not satisfied. Mumbling should include both consonant and vowel sounds. Sounds should be made with the lips (easier in prone position, while he is lying face down) and with the back of the mouth when it comes to guttural sounds (easier lying on his back.) This is one of the easier milestones to recognize, since there is a difference in the sounds depending on their position, and their mumbling tends to be strung together to make more words.

Conclusion

While the first three months of your baby’s life can seem overwhelming, once you make it through, you realize it was a lot, but your baby was well worth it. As your baby progresses through the three to six month old child development stages, you can begin to relax and enjoy your baby a bit more as you get to know him or her better.

How was your baby development at this stage? Did he or she reach all these milestone? Did They struggle? How was it for you? we will be happy to hear from you… Comment below.

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