Before we get started, I want you to picture your 3-month-old baby speaking French.
Sounds impossible, right?
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking…
That a 3-month-old can’t even speak, talk more of speaking French.
And you know what? You’re right about that.
But where most parents got it wrong is downplaying the things a 3-month-old baby can actually do.
And the truth is, at 3 months, your baby already knows so much more than you give him credit for.
Forget those regular ideas about 3-month-old babies you’ve probably come across—many of those ideas are based on face-value studies, and you shouldn’t base your overall judgment on them.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dismissing the credibility of those ideas, nor do I deny their trueness.
I’m only saying…
MOST of those ideas are not based on in-depth studies, and they shouldn’t be your ONLY metric for determining what babies should be doing at 3 months old.
That said, in this article, I have taken the time to research and bring you a list of what your baby is supposed to be doing at 3 months old.
Physical Signs of Development in A 3 Month Old
No doubt, the rate at which babies grow varies from one another.
But in a general sense, babies grow about 1 to 1.5 inches taller at three months and gain about 1.5 to 2 pounds per month.
Although the figures here are estimated.
At this age, some babies can sit without being assisted. Their body gets stronger every day, and even their sleeping pattern changes.
Thanh-Tam Nguyen, MD, a pediatrician, said, “3-month-old babies should be able to hold their heads up well, and while lying in their stomach, be able to push up with their arms to support their chest.”
This is also when some babies experience growth spurts – a short period when your child experiences rapid physical growth in height and weight.
However, apart from growth spurts, their vocal skills become refined, and they may start babbling when trying to communicate with you.
At this stage, most of their fussy symptoms tend to become less.
Another visible development is an improvement in their vision.
“Your infant should have better eye muscle control, allowing them to track objects,” says Dr. Samuel.
What Is My Baby Supposed to Be Doing At 3 Months Old?
The truth remains: if you don’t know what your baby is supposed to be doing at 3 months old, you’re missing out on an essential part of your child’s life.
And you need to correct such a narrative ASAP!
Which, by the way, is the purpose of this section, and the truth is, you’re not alone on this one.
In other words, hundreds of other parents out there don’t know what their babies are supposed to be doing at 3 months old.
But here you are…
Trying to join the small percentage of devoted parents who have invested so much time and effort trying to know what their babies should be doing at 3 months.
Although 3-month-old babies can be pretty tricky and unpredictable—one would hardly tell what they’re up to, as they tend to fondly act as though they don’t know what they’re doing.
But that’s by the way.
At 3 months, your baby is already going through a rapid rate of growth and development, even in their brain.
You start noticing changes and new behaviors. They tend to recognize your face and voice, having a clearer vision.
You will even notice they’ve grown bigger within a short timeframe.
By now, your baby should be able to express and respond (to an extent) to different expressions.
That said, my objective in this section is to help parents with less experience understand what a baby is supposed to be doing at 3 months old.
Now that we’ve established that let’s delve into the things your baby is supposed to be doing at 3 months old:
Ability To Sense Emotions
This might come off as too soon, but it doesn’t change the fact that at 3 months, your baby should be able to sense emotions, that is, if he’s not doing it already.
According to Dr. Alison Gopnik, “By the time newborns are just a few months old, they understand the difference between a happy expression and a sad one.”
And by the time of their first birthday, they can sense the emotions of everyone around them.
The best part? Your baby doesn’t just sense people’s emotions; they also care about them.
A 2019 study published in the British Journal of Psychology proves that babies possess an inherent trait of compassion and morality even in their early months of existence.
To fully understand this context, an experiment was conducted where babies were made to watch two video clips.
The first clip showed a square figure being greeted by a friendly circular figure.
But the second clip showed a square figure being bullied by a circular figure.
After the clips, the babies were presented with a choice between the two square figures, and the vast majority of babies who watched the clips chose the distressed figure.
The researchers submitted that the babies exhibited an empathetic preference toward the bullied figure.
Hence the conclusion that babies do have an inherent sense of compassion.
In other words, babies as young as 3 months old and above can sense emotions in more-than-expected ways.
This also explains why some babies (even at 3 months) tend to cry when the mother is crying. In some cases, you might see the baby trying to touch the mother’s eyes with the intent to wipe her tears.
All this is possible within their knowledge frame because they can sense other people’s emotional states, especially their mothers and caregivers.
Ability To Learn a Second Language
Remember when I asked you (at the beginning of this guide) to imagine your 3-month-old baby speaking French?
We both agreed it’s impossible because babies within that age can’t speak.
But what if it’s not about speaking the language?
What if it’s simply about understanding the language and reacting accordingly?
What I mean is that if you and your spouse know a second language and decide to use it often around your baby, it won’t be long before your baby starts responding accordingly.
Probably just some single-sentence instructions, and you’ll see your baby following up on whatever thing you say.
At that point, it’s safe to say your baby has learned a second language even though they don’t speak it just yet. And if such practices continue till adolescence, your child will naturally grow into a bilingual individual.
Lastly, your baby should experience growth spurts at 3 months or less, but the thing about growth spurts is that it doesn’t have a defined time of occurrence.
Yet, it does occur at 3 months for some babies.
However, if at 3 months, your baby hasn’t experienced growth spurts, it doesn’t mean something is wrong. It would help if you kept observing because growth spurts can occur before, during, or after 3 months.
If you’re wondering, growth spurts are quick, physical growth in your baby’s height and weight.
At 3 Months, your baby’s grip on things should become stronger. This is because their cartilaginous nature is beginning to improve (getting ready to evolve into bones), coupled with the improvement of their nails.
For this reason, they’ll develop a firm grip on whatever comes in contact with their hands. So, if there’s any important stuff you need to keep out of their reach, please do so before they grab it because it might not be easy retrieving something from the grasp of a 3-month-old.
Improvement In Vision and Hearing
In the first 3 months of your baby’s existence, they’ll go through significant development in terms of their vision and hearing.
Babies are born with a full visual capacity to see objects and colors. The average visual acuity (the ability of the eye to distinguish shapes and the details of an object at a given distance) of newborns is between 20/200 and 20/400.
However, newborns cannot see very far.
Only objects that are 8-15 inches away, which is about the distance from their face to yours while feeding.
At 3 months, their sight will improve significantly, and you might start to notice your baby watching you from a far distance. This might appear new to you, but it’s natural.
On the other hand, your 3-month-old’s hearing will also improve. In some cases (if you’re very observant), you’ll notice that they tend to turn their heads at the sound of the familiar voice of their parents. You’ll also see them begin to enjoy playful noises and sounds.
So, at 3 months, such improvement in your babies’ vision and hearing should be expected.
Ability to Stretch Legs Out
Your baby should be able to stretch their leg at this age and even kick when lying on the stomach, and in my experience, babies usually stretch their legs when they are either feeling sleepy or just waking up from one.
Furthermore, they will even move their legs in a way that mimics bicycle riding. They usually do this to demonstrate their playful nature.
Able To Wiggle Hands
A 3-month-old should be able to wiggle the hands and pick up random stuff freely. Your baby should be able to open and shut their hands and even bring their hand up to their mouth.
Their neck and body strength improve. If you hold them upright, you will notice little or no wobbling of their head.
As newborns, they wobble their heads a lot until their body strength and neck get stronger at three months of age.
A newborn baby always cries when trying to convey a message of inconvenience or hunger, but when the baby gets to 3 months, they should be able to communicate better.
They communicate by stretching out their hands or babbling.
They begin to discover their voice and make cooing noises and vowel sounds. Babies also make noises back at you as you speak to them.
At that age, they listen to your words and try to respond to you. As you might have seen, they’ll sometimes try to repeat whatever you say.
Raising Of Their Head and Chest
At 3 months old, babies should be able to raise their heads while lying on their stomachs.
Supports Upper Body with Arms When Lying on The Stomach
Once they get to 3 months, their muscular system is improved. For this reason, they become strong enough to use their hand to support their upper body.
Sense of Smell
Generally, newborn babies have a high-level sensitivity to smell, but at 3 months, this sense of smell improves rapidly.
Changes In Their Sleep Pattern
On average, a newborn baby sleeps about 14-20 hours daily and wakes up randomly to eat, but at 3 months, babies sleep longer during nighttime for about 7 to 9 hours.
Change In Their Feeding Pattern
At 3 months, your baby should be exhibiting certain specifics regarding their feeding pattern, and you should be able to observe it.
It could be an increase in milk consumption or even a reduction in consumption.
Either way, you must understand that your baby is exhibiting these changes due to reaching a particular milestone in their life.
So, at each feeding, your baby will either have more or less milk than they were initially able to finish in the past 2 months. Because their nervous system is still developing at this age, they tend to accommodate more milk or formula.
Therefore, their feeding becomes less frequent.
Do Babies Sit At 3 Months Old?
A baby must have suitable head control before sitting up on their own. Most babies achieve this at four months.
However, the age at which a baby begins to sit up differs from one child to another.
Some master the act quickly and may be able to sit up at three months but will require a support system placed at their back.
‘When babies start practicing the act of sitting at an early stage or placed in a seated position for a long period, it may interfere with their development of skills.’ pediatric physical therapist Rebecca Talmud explained.
Things To Do With Your 3 Months Old
Watching your baby grow is a fantastic journey. There are fun and educative activities you can involve your baby in.
Speak to them gently and use their name. This will help them to master your voice and know their names.
Gently stroke different parts of their body and watch their reaction. You can even tickle them and watch them giggle.
Copy their little gestures.
Make them watch educative cartoons even though, at 3 months, they may not be able to process them.
You could even engage them in tummy time—a process of laying babies on their stomachs for a short period while they are awake. Quite an essential practice for babies.
This practice enhances the development of their neck and trunk muscles. It also prevents skull deformations.
However, there are some safety tips you need to observe;
Ensure your baby is alert and awake during tummy time, and never leave your baby unattended.
Always place your baby on their back when putting them to sleep.
This act was recommended by the AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS (AAP) in 1992 to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
Baby Moves: This practice encourages the development of fine motor and gross skills.
Grasps And Hold: Your baby will be able to hold onto things at this age. During playtime, you can hold out their toys, wiggle them in front of them, and make them reach for them.
It encourages their eye-hand movements and control.
Ball Fun: This activity provides lots of movement, stimulating the vestibular system’s development.
At 3 months, your baby has just entered a very active phase of their life.
This means your baby is about to start putting you on high alert because of their constant need to experiment with everything that comes their way, including the potentially dangerous ones.
From his hands to his toys or whatever he could grab, he will play with it and even stick it in his mouth at first instance.
This is why you must be careful of their immediate environment at this age, keep harmful objects as far as possible, and don’t leave them unattended.
Like I said earlier, your baby’s sleep pattern will change by 3 months—their sleep time reduces and becomes more predictable, and they are likely to sleep through the night for about 7 to 9 hours.
Depending on the baby, this milestone (3 months of age) could be challenging for some parents, first-time mothers especially.
And the best you can do is always seek ways to deal with your baby, even if it means seeking guidance from mothers with good experience in parenting.
Finally, babies react differently to changes as they grow older, and growth varies from one baby to another—not all situations apply to all babies.