Learning, Play, and Your 1- to 3-Month-Old
What Is My Baby Learning?
After learning to recognize your voice, your face, and your touch, and to associate them with comfort, your baby will start responding even more to you during these months — and will even give you a smile!
Babies this age spend more time awake and become more curious about their surroundings. They are getting physically stronger and better able to coordinate movements. Encourage the learning process by talking to your little one, responding to his or her vocal expressions, and providing colorful age-appropriate toys.
You'll now see your baby's personality emerge. In the first month or two of life, newborns depend on others to initiate interaction. But by the end of the third month your baby will engage you with facial expressions, vocalizations, and gestures.
Your baby will carefully watch your facial expressions and listen to your voice, responding to you with coos and gurgles. At around 2 months, your baby will respond to your smile with a smile. Between 3 and 4 months, most infants can squeal with delight and laugh out loud.
Babies will start to open and shut their fists, opening up new possibilities. They can hold a rattle placed in their hands. They'll soon discover that they're the one that made the rattle make noise!
Babies also start to explore their surroundings with their hands, reaching out, swatting at, and grasping for a favorite toy. They'll also begin to notice their hands and feet, and they'll become a source of amusement. They enjoy staring at their hands, playing with their fingers, and bringing their hands or a toy to their mouth.
How Can I Help My Baby Learn?
Respond to coos and gurgling with sounds of your own. Encourage your baby to keep using his or her voice. In this way, your little one learns about language and back-and-forth conversation.
Provide colorful toys of different textures, shapes, and sizes for your baby to hold and explore. This is a good age to introduce an infant gym with interesting objects that dangle for your baby to swat at. Or hold a toy just out of reach for your baby to reach for, swat, and grab hold of. But don't string up toys on cribs or other baby equipment — your baby could get tangled in them.
Watch for signs — fussing, squirming, or crying — that your little one might be ready for a break.
Some Other Ideas
Other ideas for encouraging your baby to learn and play:
- Gently clap your baby's hands together or stretch arms (crossed, out wide, or overhead).
- Gently move your baby's legs as if pedaling a bicycle.
- Use a favorite toy for your baby to focus on and follow, or shake a rattle for your infant to find.
- While awake, let your baby spend some time on his or her tummy to help strengthen the neck and shoulders. Always supervise your infant during "tummy time" and be ready to help if he or she gets tired or frustrated in this position. Never put a baby to sleep on his or her stomach. Infants should sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- Make different facial expressions for your baby to imitate.
- Talk to your baby and let your baby respond.
- Read to your baby.
Keep in mind that babies develop at different rates, and there is a wide range of normal development. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about how your baby sees and hears, or if you have any questions or concerns about your baby's development.
- Choosing Safe Baby Products
- Communication and Your 1- to 3-Month-Old
- Movement, Coordination, and Your 1- to 3-Month-Old
- Your Child's Growth
- Your Baby's Growth: 1 Month
- Medical Care and Your 1- to 3-Month-Old
- Sleep and Your 1- to 3-Month-Old
- Your Baby's Hearing, Vision, and Other Senses: 1 Month
- Learning, Play, and Your 4- to 7-Month-Old
- Learning, Play, and Your 8- to 12-Month-Old
- Learning, Play, and Your 1- to 2-Year-Old
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995- KidsHealth® All rights reserved.
Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.