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Development Milestones: What to Expect at 3 months

Learn what to expect from your baby at 3 months. See the physical, intellectual and emotional milestones your little one may be reaching and learn how to encourage your baby's development.

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Let's meet 3-month-old Matthew, seen here lying on his stomach. He can lift his shoulders and head, but he's not yet strong enough to lift his chest. Matthew is trying to keep his head still to better focus on the toy in front of him. He's having some difficulty, so his mother has to support him with one hand. When we compare Matthew with 4-week-old Tina, we can see that Matthew has more strength and command of the muscles that control his head movements. Three-month-old babies cannot sit up without support. They like being held in a sitting position, and as we can see here, Matthew is able to sit with his mother's support. When Matthew is lying on his back, we see that he is able to keep his head centered. Let's compare him with 6-week-old Ryan. Ryan is lying with his head turned to one side. On the other hand, Matthew's head and neck muscles are strong enough to keep his head centered. A 3-month-old baby may smile and kick his arms and legs in pleasure when he sees a known face or hears a known voice. Babies at this age like to stare at colorful or especially shaped objects or at things that make a sound. Let your 3-month-old baby lie on his stomach for short periods of time. It's good exercise to strengthen his muscles, and he can lie like this several times a day. Your baby can now lift his upper body on outstretched arms. This is a preliminary stage of learning to crawl, but he will not be able to crawl until he can lift his chest. A 3-month-old will begin to notice his surroundings, and he will enjoy being held in a sitting position that allows him to see what is happening around him. Have your baby sit on your lap so that you can support him as he sits. He will get particularly excited if he sees someone rattling a colorful time. Hand a toy to your baby so that he can practice grasping objects. Rattles are particularly exciting at this age. All children go through the same stages of development, but remember that each child will develop at his or her own speed. Normal children of the same age may be at completely different stages of development. You should consult your pediatrician if your child is older than 3 months and doesn't follow an object with his eyes, doesn't respond to your voice or loud sounds, doesn't try to use his hands, or if he has difficulty lifting his head.