Baby Growth and Development: 1-3 Month Milestones

What should a baby be doing at 1 month, 2 months, or 3 months? These tips will help your little one reach key developmental markers.

baby girl crawling
Photo: George Rudy/Shutterstock
01 of 18

Watch Your Face

mom and baby

Your baby will start processing your face as a whole, instead of just focusing on individual features like eyes. Consider buying an unbreakable mirror to hang near your baby's crib or changing table; they’ll love seeing their own facial expressions and movements.

02 of 18

Smile at Your Voice

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As an important 1 month milestone, your baby will smile when they recognize your voice, since it reminds them of food, comfort, and warmth. Speak to them with dramatic baby talk; high-pitched, slow, and exaggerated voices are likely their favorite.

03 of 18

Develop a Social Smile

Smiling baby
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Soon your baby will develop a genuine gummy grin. Encourage this adorable 1 month milestone by "smile-talking" with them. Sometimes they'll aim a big smile at you and even babble to catch your attention. Immediately smile back to encourage this behavior.

04 of 18

Bring Hand to Mouth

Baby laying on tummy, sucking his fist

Even if it seems like your baby is slapping themself, let them try bringing their fingers to their mouth. This is an important 2 month baby milestone. They will eventually reach their destination, and they'll be able to suck on their thumb whenever they please.

05 of 18

Track Moving Objects

baby senses
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As your baby’s vision develops, they should start to follow moving objects with their eyes. Encourage this 3 month milestone by hanging a bright mobile over the crib or changing table. Set it at a low speed at first, and as your baby gets better at following the objects, gradually increase the speed setting.

06 of 18


mom and dad holding baby's head
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Months before uttering their first word, your baby will babble as a form of verbal communication. Parents should read to their little ones often; babies especially love books with bright pictures and high-contrast patterns that provide visual stimulation.

07 of 18

Raise Head and Chest

benefits of tummy time for baby

In their first few months of life, your baby should begin lifting their head—even if it’s just for a few seconds—during tummy time. This action will strengthen their neck muscles. Soon enough they'll lift their arms and shoulders as well.

08 of 18

Stretch and Kick While Lying Down

Baby Laying Down Tiny Feet Blue Onesie

As your baby develops lower body strength, they may stretch and kick while lying down. Some babies learn to roll from front to back as a 3 month milestone; make sure you pay close attention so they don't roll into danger or fall off their changing table.

09 of 18

Enjoy Other Babies

Three babies wearing colorful onesies
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Babies can be social, too! When your child is alert and happy, let friends and family hold him. As they become more comfortable with others, join a playgroup with children near their age. Also be prepared for your baby to cry when playtime ends—or when they've had enough stimulation and are ready for some quiet time.

10 of 18

Recognize Objects and People from a Distance

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Your baby recognized you up-close soon after birth, but as their vision develops, they’ll begin recognizing people and objects from afar. When you enter a room, talk to your baby from the doorway. If they can't seem to find you, move a few feet closer. Catching your baby looking out the window is another sign that their distance vision is developing well.

11 of 18

Imitate Sounds

baby smiling and laughing

Babies learn by imitation, so they’ll begin to mimic sounds at around 3 months. Consider phasing baby talk out of your speech. Babies learn a lot about inflection and cadence by listening to adult language.

12 of 18

Become Physically Expressive

crying baby hates tummy time

Your baby will become more communicative with their face and body language. For example, screaming and crying are signs they are hungry, wet, tired, lonely, or uncomfortable. As you become more in touch with their signals, you might be able to respond to their needs before they are even sure what's wrong.

13 of 18

Open and Shut Hands

Baby hand in big hand

Another important 3 month old milestone: your baby will open and close their hands. Because they might not realize the hands belong to them, they will become fascinated when they accidentally come into view. Encourage their development by placing a rattle or toy in their open hand and see if they grip it.

14 of 18

Develop Hand-Eye Coordination

Sunlight On Baby Laying On White Rug
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An improvement in vision and motor skills leads to hand-eye coordination around 3 months. To practice, place your baby on your lap and slowly move a soft toy in front of their face. Encourage them to bat at the object with their hand. Even if they don't make contact at first, the practice will help develop their coordination and depth perception.

15 of 18

Turn Head Toward Sound

Four Baby Exercises Smiling Baby Laying On Back

Around 3 months, your little one may begin turning their head toward intriguing sounds. Encourage this cognitive development by introducing your baby to lots of different sounds—sing to them, take them on errands, and go for walks.

Don't be afraid to expose them to crowds or live family-friendly music performances. (But they may still become startled by loud noises, so be prepared to soothe them if a noise is too much.)

16 of 18

Imitate Movements

mom playing with happy baby on white blanket

Besides mimicking your sounds, your baby will also imitate your movements and facial expressions. Play along by sitting with your baby facing you on your lap, holding their hands in yours, and singing nursery rhymes with motions.

17 of 18

Push Down on Legs

Mothers Hand Holding Babys Feet
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Your baby is slowly developing strength in their legs. Lift them up so their feet rest lightly on a firm surface, then straighten and bend their knees to practice balance. Take care to hold your baby up enough so that you are supporting their body weight while letting them get the feel of "standing."

18 of 18

Grasp and Shake Objects

baby holding rattle
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When given toys, your baby might grasp and shake them. They should also be able to reach for objects by around 3 months. Dangle a toy barely out of their reach and see if they swipe at it with excitement.

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