Learning Milestones

3-4 Months

3 Months: Reacting Differently to Words Than to Other Sounds
A recent study compared 3-month-olds who saw pictures of fish and dinosaurs while hearing spoken words and those who saw the same photos but heard computerized tones instead of words. The result: The words got the babies' attention in a way the tones did not. "We were stunned that there was such a difference in the way babies as young as 3 months reacted," says researcher Susan J. Hespos, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and director of the Infant Cognition Lab at Northwestern University, in Evanston, Illinois. The study also underscores how important it is to talk to your baby -- a lot. "When you label and describe things in everyday conversation, that influences the way she perceives the world," says Dr. Hespos.

4 Months: Recognizing His Own Name
From birth, babies show an alertness to voices, but around 4 months, they usually start to look up when called by name, says Dr. Shulman. This is in large part because it's the word babies are most used to hearing. Achieving this milestone is a sign that your baby is able to discern sounds, is focused enough to make out those sounds, and has good hearing, says Dr. Berman. Think about it this way: The sentence "Jack, look at the stuffed bear" sounds like one big word jumble to the untrained ear, so it's quite a feat for a baby to pick out his name, or any other specific word, from the rest of the sounds. You can help by making an effort to use your child's name when speaking to him. It seems obvious, but it's important to remember, especially if you have more than one child and tend to address them as a pair or a group.

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