Q: My 3-month-old baby doesn't seem interested in playing with toys or books. Is this normal?
A: Don't worry -- this isn't unusual at all. During the first three months, babies are using most of their energy to adapt to the outside world. There may be periods when she enjoys looking at her toys (show her bright ones she can easily see) or listening to your voice as you read stories. But newborns are generally more interested in sleeping and crying than in playing. Around now, you may see your baby start to grasp small toys, such as rattles, with her hands, look carefully at colorful objects and illustrations in books, and mouth and chew on her teethers or other toys, but only for a few minutes. Then you'll notice that she might look away, drop the toys, close her eyes, or even start to cry. This is her way of saying, "Okay, I need some rest now." Put the toys away and give her the time she needs, either by cuddling, swaddling, or putting her down in the crib for a few minutes. She'll tell you when she's ready to play again by looking eager and alert. By 4 months, you'll see her become more interested in exploring and learning about the world around her. Keep in mind that 4-month-olds still have limited attention spans, so it's best to play short games like peekaboo.
Originally published in American Baby magazine, August 2006. Updated 2009