With Baby becoming more alert, responsive, and engaging, the third month brings big intellectual leaps.

Credit: Aimee Herring

As you head into the third month of life with your little one, chances are the day-to-day of baby rearing is getting easier. And just as you have gotten better at knowing what your baby needs and expects from you, she is ready to show off some new skills. Month three usually brings improvement in hand-eye coordination and visual capacity, along with many happy coos, squeaks, and squeals. Here's what's ahead this month.

What to expect: This month, your baby may start to play with her own hands -- squeezing them, holding them, twirling them around in front of her face, and sucking on a finger (or an entire fist). She may also study more complex designs, along with various colors, sizes and shapes, for longer periods of time and will enjoy watching something move through her line of sight -- perhaps you, as you leave the room.

You may start to find that it's easier to read Baby's cries and body language as she gets better at letting you know what she might need. And if she hasn't mastered the art of giving real smiles in the past months, she should start showing off her gummy grins this month.

Crying isn't the only way that your baby is making noise these days -- she's also squealing, squeaking, and possibly even screeching as she begins to realize how to manipulate her mouth to make different noises. And speaking of noise, your baby will enjoy listening to all kinds of music (and won't judge you if you sing to her off-key).

Progression: Your baby's interest in her own hands may increase as she moves through this third month, as will her hand-eye coordination. Her reaching may become more targeted and she might start to be able to grasp something that she sees in front of her for a few moments. Her vision will continue to improve and she might enjoy looking at her own reflection in the mirror.

How to help: Be sure to give your baby plenty of mobile-watching time so he can practice focusing on high-contrast images. Continue to read to, talk to, and respond to your baby to facilitate his language development. "Respond to Baby as if you were having a conversation," suggests Jenn Berman, Ph.D., a Parents advisor and author of SuperBaby. "Babbling is a baby's attempt to start to learn words through tongue placement and jaw development, so use it as a way to engage the child," she explains. If baby's cooing is consistently off-the-charts loud, try responding with whispered tones; he just might imitate you. And offer plenty of play time with objects dangling within an arm's reach, such as under a baby gym, so that he can practice his hand-eye coordination. Mirrors made specifically for babies can be securely attached to the side of the crib or to the headrest in front of Baby's car seat for your little one's viewing pleasure.

Don't freak out if: Babies develop at different speeds, so if your wee one doesn't show interest in his hands or start to reach for things this month, he most likely will in the weeks to come. Your baby might be very vocal or active one week and then quieter and calmer the week after. This is completely normal.

When you should you worry: If Baby doesn't seem to be able to see across the room or never follows you or an item as it moves through her line of sight, check in with your pediatrician.

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