Development (Birth - 3 Months)

Ways to Encourage Development (Birth - 3 months)

Muscle Skills

  • Place infants in different positions when awake.
  • Put on stomach and place brightly colored toys 8 ‑ 10 inches in front of face, or make soft noises in front of head to encourage lifting of head.
  • Hold infant in a sitting position, being sure back and head are supported. Put infant in infant seat. Do not place seats on counters, tables or chairs unless an adult stays nearby.
  • Place brightly colored mobiles and pictures around infant’s area.

Language Skills

  • Talk to infant as much as possible when changing diapers, feeding and playing. Talk, then wait, giving infant time to respond.
  • Respond to infant’s laughs, coos and sounds with pleasure. Be expressive!

Social and Emotional Skills

  • Provide the child with the same caregiver as much as possible. Infants bond well to only a few people. This bonding is critically important to developing feelings of trust and security.
  • Be aware of baby’s moods. Babies, like adults, like to play and eat when they are awake and alert. When infants are sleepy or fussy, they do not like eating or being handled.
  • Don’t worry about spoiling infants at this age – they need lots of love and attention.
  • When an infant cries, check to see if he or she is hungry, wet, too cold or hot, or uncomfortable. If so, take care of that. If still fussy, try the following ways to comfort:
    • Let baby bring hand to mouth – some babies quiet by sucking on their hands or fingers.
    • Bring your face into baby’s vision (8 ‑ 10 inches from his/her face).
    • Talk to infant in a soft, steady voice.
    • If these measures don’t work after about two minutes, pick up baby, swaddle (wrap snugly with a blanket), and hold close or rock or walk; this gives a feeling of closeness and warmth.
  • Use pacifier if parents approve. (If using a pacifier, never leave it on a cord around the baby’s neck; it can strangle baby.) Do not sweeten pacifiers.
  • Provide quiet time when baby is not overstimulated.
  • Pay close attention when you feed baby. Feeding can be the most important social and learning time for an infant.
  • Spend lots of time holding each baby and looking at him/her. Your face and smile are very important to baby.

Developmental Tasks (Birth - 3 Months)

Muscle Skills

  • Moves arms and legs equally well.
  • When on stomach, ability to raise and control head improves.
  • When on back, eyes follow bright objects or person’s face from side to side.
  • Stares at objects held about 8 ‑ 10 inches in front of him or her (likes human faces and bright colors best).
  • Likes high contrast (black and white) and bright colors (oranges, reds and yellows).
  • Slowly develops more head control when in sitting position.
  • Movements not yet well coordinated; startles to loud sound or sudden change of position.
  • Cannot yet control hands.

Language Skills

  • Makes some noises other than crying (coos).
  • Can hear well; likes human voice.

Social and Emotional Skills

  • Comforts when talked to, held and cuddled.
  • Sucking brings comfort.
  • Crying usually means: hunger, loneliness, wet, cold, hot or other discomfort.
  • Cries to let you know needs – calms down when needs are met (food, dryness, warmth and loving).
  • Trust begins to be developed when you respond to baby’s needs. Baby in turn quiets, looks with eyes.
  • Smiles responsively by 2 months.
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