Baby's third month: development, medical and sleep

Babies like to kick
Babies like to kick 

By three months, most babies have almost completely taught themselves to hold their heads up and move their necks around to a 90 degree angle, when lying on their tummies. To encourage this in your baby, hold a toy above her eyeline so she is forced to lift their head to see it. You may also notice that if you hold your baby up, and her feet are placed against a flat surface, she will be able to bear her weight and give the appearance of standing. She can also wave her arms in a smoother manner than the jerky way she did previously.

When fully awake, a three month old baby will hold her head up and focus her eyes and look intently at toys, pictures and people in her eyeline and she may extend her arms to try and touch objects, though with little to no co-ordination. Giving her an object she likes will draw a pleasurable response with smiling, cooing and wriggling in excitement.

Setting aside time a couple of times each day to have fun with your baby is important both for your baby’s development and for your relationship with your baby.

Babies need to play on their tummy to encourage them to develop head and neck control, and most should be able to lift their head up slightly by three months of age. They need this strength to learn to roll over and then crawl which can occur as early as eight months. However babies with reflux may not be happy lying on their tummies and can prefer sitting up with your support.

Three month old babies also like to kick and straighten their legs when on their back, often quite vigorously. Place your baby in the middle of a room on the carpet, or on a bed or on a blanket in the yard so he can be exposed to a variety of settings while lying on his tummy.

Teaching your baby to fall asleep independently (and this includes being fed before being put in the cot) should wait until your baby is older than six months.

She will also begin to put things in her mouth constantly, an evolutionary instinct that kick starts her immune system and is an early sign of developing hand to eye coordination.

Playing with fingers is very compelling for babies of this age as well, now that she can bring her hands in her eye range and can open her hands to try and take hold of something, although she does not have control over her thumbs.

Watching your baby interact with their own reflection a mirror is entertaining because they do not realise it is actually them and not another person at this age. Some babies will stare, while others will coo. Through cooing, babies begin to make vowel sounds and directing their speech at people around them and toys and listening to themselves pleases them. You can encourage this language development further by talking, singing and reading to him as you go about your daily routine, as well as reacting when they make noises and providing positive reinforcement with hugs, kisses and claps, when they accomplish things.

Loud or unexpected noises will be more noticeable for your baby at three months, and may cause her distress. She will able to show a range of feelings through a number of different actions besides crying, such as flailing her arms and legs together and alternately in excitement, smiles that range between big cheeky grins and more reserved smiles, as well as raspberries and grunts.


Vowel sounds will be heard in her babbling, which is often deliberately directed at people and toys and talking, and she will often engage in reciprocal vocal imitation. Singing and reading to your baby is the best way to encourage this and reacting by clapping, hugging and kissing her when she makes noises provides an environment of positive reinforcement.

Their memory is also developing to the point where babies can recall things with visual cues such as seeing a bottle and realising they are going to be fed, or the association of a door opening with footsteps.

Her shoulders will be straighter and form perception will have started as well as spatial perception of things such as up and down.

Babies who have colic will cry differently to other babies. The signs for colic are characterised by intense cries of pain and discomfort that last for at least three hours, three times every week, as well as a red face, legs drawn up tightly to the body and clenched fists. Colic will begin in the first few weeks and reach a peak around six weeks and start to diminish by twelve weeks, although it can continue for longer than this. This constant crying does not scar babies emotionally – it is specific to the length of time that your baby has colic so try not to become anxious.

Seek help from a medical professional if your baby does not lift her head at all, never shows any facial expressions, is frequently inattentive and does not respond to sound.

Now is a suitable time to try and introduce a routine as babies have adapted to sleeping, eating and playing and feed less often such as in the middle of the night as their metabolism begins to adjust.

During the day she will stay awake for longer periods and at night she may sleep for 4-6 hours at a stretch but many will still feed throughout the night. Baby should sleep for 12-20 hours in a 24 hour period.

Teaching your baby to fall asleep independently (and this includes being fed before being put in the cot) should wait until your baby is older than six months and is consuming less breast milk in exchange for solids. Babies still cannot fall asleep independently at three months and therefore are unlikely to sleep through the night so they should be attended to when they cry, even if you are trying to get them into good habits for the future.

By increasing the amount of milk your baby has at night and slowly reducing the number of late night feeds your baby has before six months is good preparation for when this time comes. It will also cut the number of times you need to change your baby’s nappy each night. You can do this by waiting an extra half hour between feeds each night, or until your baby cries.

It is important to note that by the time a baby weights five kilograms, a night feed is no longer necessary for growth, but a baby who is accustomed to feeding during the night may wake out of habit and demand to be fed. Phasing out night feeds by the fourth month is fine, provided your baby is getting an adequate amount of milk during the day. It is however not unusual for babies to have night feeds for much longer than this!

They will also produce less wet and dirty nappies as a result of this too, and less nappy changes at night will be required as well.