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Your baby's growth and development - 3 months old

5-minute read

By 3 months, your baby will have formed a strong attachment to you. They will respond to you with lots of smiles, and might even talk back to you in their own way. The worst of the crying should be nearly over, and you can really enjoy your baby as they grow into their own little person.

Your 3-month-old

By the time your baby is 3 months, the fontanelle (soft spot at the back of their head) should have closed. There will still be a soft spot on top of their head. It might seem as if your baby’s head has grown faster than their body. It’s normal – the body will soon catch up.

You will still be getting disturbed sleep at nights, but from 3 months many babies start to ‘sleep through’ (which means sleeping for 5 or 6 hours at a stretch at night). But don’t worry if your baby isn’t doing this – they are all different.

Understanding baby growth charts

Understanding baby growth charts

A growth chart helps you and your doctor keep track of how your baby is growing.

What can your baby do?

By now your baby will be starting to experience emotions and communication. They will respond to different expressions, know your voice and will turn to look for you when they hear you. They may start laughing out loud and look around them in wonder – especially at their fingers and toes.

They will smile at strangers, but they definitely know who their parents are by now. Their brain is growing fast and they will start to recognise people by sight and smell as well as by their voice.

They will be gurgling a lot and trying to respond to you when you talk to them. Their sense of touch is also becoming more sensitive and they will be able to pay attention to things for longer.

From now on, your baby will start to reach out for objects as the muscles develop in their arms and hands. They will try to put things in their mouth, although they can't quite coordinate their hands and eyes yet, take a long look at objects and shake or rattle them.

Physically, your baby will have better control of their head movements and will start to hold their head up when they’re sitting up. When you give them tummy time, you might notice they roll from their front to their back, lift up their head or push up their chest with their hands.

They will be waving their arms and kicking their legs strongly. If you hold them upright with their feet on the floor or your lap, they’ll probably push down on their legs.

A lot of the time, if they are near a dangling object, they will bat at it with closed fists. However, they can also open their fingers to grasp an object and they will be better coordinated, so they can bring their hands together.

How can I help my baby develop?

This is the time when the foundations of language are built. Talk and read to your baby as much as possible. It will help them learn how language works and how conversations go back and forth. Respond to your baby with words or with different noises, to encourage them to express themselves.

Choose baby books with large, bright pictures. It doesn’t really matter what the words are, it’s the sound of your voice that counts. Point to things around your baby and tell them the names. If you live in a bilingual home, it’s OK to use both languages to describe the world to your baby.

You can help your baby to develop the muscles in their neck and back by dangling a toy in front of them when they’re on their tummy. Or offer a toy to them to help them learn to grasp it. Stimulate their sense of touch by stroking them with different materials like fur, felt and tissue. Cuddles, massage and moving them through the air will all help to calm them down.

Development problem signs

Babies develop at a different rate. At 3 months, talk to your doctor or maternal child health nurse if:

  • they aren’t smiling by 8 weeks
  • they don’t calm down, even for a little while, when you pick them up to comfort them
  • one side of their body seems to be stronger than the other
  • they’re still holding their fingers in a tight fist
  • sudden noises don’t startle them
  • they aren’t feeding properly
  • they’re floppy or stiff

Where can I go for help?

If you are worried or would like to discuss any issues with your baby’s development, speak to your doctor or child health nurse.

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: October 2020


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