3-Month-Old-Baby: Getting into a Groove
Life with a 3-month-old baby is all about settling into parenting by establishing routines and getting to know your little one better and better each day. There is still, of course, some uncharted territory, but you may be feeling more confident in your abilities as a parent and excited about what's to come. Here, we'll highlight some of the developmental milestones to look forward to; ways to support your baby’s development; advice on feeding and sleeping; and reassure you that, although you may be short on sleep, you're doing great!
Baby Development Milestones
As your baby grows and becomes more aware of his or her physical self and the world in general, here is a look at some of the developments you might be observing in your 3-month-old baby.
Physical Development: Hand and Finger Skills
Your baby’s hand and finger skills are improving around this time as is her hand-eye coordination. Your little one is learning to open and close the hands, bring a hand to her mouth, move his or her hands together, reach towards dangling objects and hold things. Your baby’s eyes can also track objects dangled in front of his or her face.
Senses: Building Blocks of Communication
There's a lot to discover, and your 3-month-old baby is learning to take it all in, bit by bit. As your little one’s vision improves, he or she is slowly learning to control eye movements, and you might notice that your baby is watching faces more intently. Faces, especially yours, are among your baby’s favourite sights.
When it comes to hearing and speech, your baby has already learned to associate your voice with comfort, soothing and love, and turns towards the sound of it. Around this time, your little one also starts to respond to the different tones you use. For example, raising your voice may make your baby cry, while a funny sound might elicit a laugh or excited gurgle.
Your baby might have even progressed from cooing to trying to mimic the sounds you make, or your intonation. You might also see that your little one sometimes responds when called by name.
By this stage, your little one’s communication repertoire may also include smiling spontaneously and in response to your smile, imitating your facial expressions, and making a whole range of bubbly or raspberry sounds.
At three months old, your baby can recognise patterns in your speech and is learning how to interact. Watch as your little one shows happiness at your delighted reactions to his or her babbling, and bask in that expression of delight when you sing or read out loud to your baby.
Movement: A Full-Body Workout
At around this time, most babies’ movements become more deliberate, and you'll probably start to see some exciting developments in your little one's motor skills. Your 3-month-old baby is slowly gaining more control over his or her body and movements. As a newborn, many of your baby’s movements were involuntary reflexes, but now those movements of the head, hands and feet may be getting more deliberate.
Your baby might now be able to lift his or her head and chest when lying tummy down, keep the head centred when lying on his or her back, and more or less straight while in a sitting position (in any case, make sure to support your little one’s head when sitting). Waves and kicks may also be getting more forceful, and you’ll notice a lot of wriggling.
You can help encourage your baby’s movement by providing daily tummy time and play. These activities can help your 3-month-old baby with motor development, hand-eye coordination and other important skills.
Personality: Your Baby's First ‘Conversations’
Watching your baby's personality emerge is one of the great joys of parenthood.
Have you noticed that your little one is smiling more and responding to your voice? That's great! It's likely that your baby really enjoys play time with you and others, and is now better able to express this enjoyment with his or her face and whole body. Your baby may even start to imitate some of your movements and facial expressions.
Your little one may now be having ‘conversations’ with you too, made up of back-and-forth exchanges of sounds, smiles and gestures. These little ‘chats’ are not just fun, but also help build your baby’s trust in you and boost his or her self-esteem.
Babies make their needs known in different ways. As a parent, you'll soon get to know these subtle (and not-so-subtle) cues. For example, you’ll be able to tell from your baby’s cries and body language when he or she is hungry, uncomfortable, or simply bored and needs a toy to play with.
How to Support Your Baby's Development
Follow your GP’s personalised advice when it comes to activities that foster your 3-month-old baby's development. These will help your little one master the skills needed to roll, sit and hold his or her head up, and will also help promote cognitive and sensory development. Here are some examples of what you could try:
Strengthening back and neck muscles. Watching carefully, place your baby stomach-down on an activity mat or blanket for short stretch tummy time so that he or she gains more control over the legs, arms and head. If your little one doesn’t enjoy tummy time, try laying him or her on your chest or lap. Remember not to leave your baby in one position for too long.
Promoting hand-eye coordination. Encourage your baby to grasp for and explore small objects like toys, or your fingers. This will help your little one learn to bring her hands to her mouth.
Aiding visual development. Introduce stimulating colours, patterns and textures for your baby to enjoy in the form of toys, rattles, books, colourful mobiles, comforters and activity mats. You can also try activities like moving an object about 40 cm in front of your little one and letting him or her follow it with her eyes.
Helping your baby learn to talk. Talk to your baby and respond to the noises he or she makes by repeating them. Tell your little one what you’re doing while you feed, bathe and change him or her. Sing or talk in a sing-song voice to your baby.
Feeding Your 3-Month-Old Baby
Feedings may become less frequent now that your baby is three months old because your baby is probably able to consume more milk at each feeding. By following a ‘responsive’ pattern of feeding (also called on-demand or baby-led feeding), which involves feeding your baby as often and for as long as he or she wants, your baby will be content and get all the nourishment that’s needed for growth.
Tracking wet and dirty nappies: In general, you'll know your baby’s feeding well when there are around six wet nappies per day. Poos may be more solid now and may also occur less often. In fact, a breastfed baby might go as long as a week without having a poo.
How Much Sleep Does a 3-Month-Old Baby Need?
At this point, your baby's sleep habits may be going through some changes. Your little one may be able to eat more during the day, and so may now require fewer night feeds or none at all. Plus, after being more alert during the day, your baby may be sleepier at night.
What you might find is that your little one takes two or three naps during the day, followed by a longer stretch at night. Although, some babies may now be sleeping through the night, it's important to remember that this doesn't apply to all babies and that ‘through the night’ often means a stretch of about five or six hours.
Our video guide also shows you more about how to create a comforting night-time routine.
How to Put Your Baby to Sleep
When putting your baby to bed at night or for a daytime nap, follow these guidelines for safe sleep and to reduce the risk of SIDS:
Always lay your baby on his or her back
Keep your little one in the same room as you but in his or her own cot or crib
Dress your baby comfortably for the room temperature
Keep the head and face uncovered
Never put your baby to sleep on a sofa or armchair.
Tips for a Good Night's Sleep
It's a good idea to aim for a consistent baby sleep schedule that suits you both. Try the following tips:
Establish a routine. Giving a gentle massage or a bath, reading a story, or singing a lullaby are great ways to help your 3-month-old wind down after the day's activities. For more tips on reading to your baby, read this summary about language development through ‘baby talk’.
Let her squirm. Your baby may need a minute to settle down and get comfortable. It's OK to let him or her wriggle, babble or even cry a little before nodding off.
Minimise stimulation. If you need to attend to your baby during the night, try to minimise distractions. Keep the lights low and don't talk very much, as this will help keep your little one calm and more likely to drift back to sleep.
A Day in the Life of Your Baby
Life with your 3-month-old baby is full of surprises. Even if following a set routine is a way off, this guideline for feeding, sleeping, bathing and playing can help add a little structure and fun to each day:
FAQs at a Glance
What are some 3-month-old baby development milestones?
Smiling at hearing your voice, imitating the sounds of your words and lifting her head and chest when lying on her tummy are all signs that your baby's development is on track.
Why isn’t my 3-month-old baby gaining much weight?
Your milk supply might not be adequate, or, if you're formula feeding, it might be due to problems with digestion or the amount of formula she’s getting. Your baby’s doctor will be able to check your baby’s weight and give you personalised advice about ways to ensure it’s on track.
What are the best toys for a 3-month-old baby?
Pictures or books with interesting patterns, textures and colours are great for babies' visual development. Rattles and bright mobiles can also provide entertainment and stimulation for young babies.
Your Life as a Parent: Dealing With Sleep Deprivation
Missing those sleep ins and lazy Sunday mornings? Any new parent will tell you that sleep deprivation is a very real concern. Of course you want to be at your best for your baby, but lack of sleep doesn't make it easy. The key to making things just a little bit easier is teamwork — between you and your partner and/or other carers, like a grandparent or nanny — and prioritising which tasks are truly important, and which can be put aside for now.
One way to minimise your sleep deprivation is by sharing your baby's bedtime routine. Essentially, sharing this routine means the responsibility for putting the baby to bed doesn't fall solely on you, giving you a well-deserved reprieve from time to time. This arrangement is also healthy for your baby, as he or she learns to fall asleep under slightly different circumstances each night, and doesn't become dependent on you to fall asleep.
Other ways to prevent sleep deprivation include
splitting the task of night-time bottle feeding with your partner or other carer
sleeping when your baby sleeps
getting some light exercise, even if it’s just going for a walk or doing some gentle postnatal exercise (like postnatal yoga) once your GP has given you the all-clear.
How we wrote this article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the National Health Service (NHS).
The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.
Checklist for This Month
Consider sharing the news with your friends and family. Take a look at these fun pregnancy announcement card ideas for some inspiration.