Baby development can be difficult to navigate, especially for new parents. It’s important to remember that all babies develop at their own pace. In this article, we discuss the 3 – 6 month milestones you can expect your little one to reach.
By three or four months, your baby is beginning to understand this amazing world. In terms of social and emotional development, there will be eye contact, your child will be able to read some of your expressions and even react to them. This is all part of learning that you are the person (or one of the many) who meets her needs. Your child will also learn that relationships are rewarding and she will be happy to interact with strangers, thanks to the pleasure of smiling and interacting with you.
As you begin having ‘conversations’, your responses to your baby will excite her and she may kick and wave. Be aware of over stimulation – when your baby gets to excited she may begin to cry and need to be soothed,
At four months, your baby will:
- Smile a lot
- Laugh and squeal with delight
- Like other people
- Be interested in her surroundings and what’s going on around her
- Show enjoyment at being bathed and talked to.
Physical development and motor skills
Your baby is starting to gain some control over her body and is even starting to realise that it is actually her body. For example, she will spend time looking carefully at her hands and touching and looking at her feet – getting an idea of what it feels like from the outside as well as the inside, and that it’s all part of one.
It’s very important for your baby to spend time on her tummy, kicking her legs and waving her arms, as this strengthens the back and encourages her to learn to crawl. She may well become frustrated after a while as she is unable to hold her head up for long periods, or move forward. Keep her in this position as long as she can tolerate it.
You will find your baby:
- Can lift and wave her arms and legs by three months
- Has discovered her hands and plays with her fingers from three to four months
- Swipes at dangling objects at three to four months, but will usually miss
- Is able to hold objects for brief periods at three to four months
- Brings toys and objects to her mouth by about four months
- Grabs and plays with her toes when lying on her back from around four to five months
- Sits up when being held by her hands by five months
- Grabs for toys at around five months
- Rolls over, front to back, at four to six months
- Is able to lift her head and chest when on her tummy by four months.
Your baby can follow you with her eyes, look from one object to another, and focus on small objects. She may also be checking to see what she can grasp and put in her mouth. Exploring is important, so give her time.
Speech and language
Sounds and sights are becoming familiar and defined – your baby will recognise voices and turn her head towards them.
Long before she can speak, your baby is listening to your voice and the voices of her caregivers. She will begin to make little noises and sounds, which come before speech.
By responding to your baby’s needs when she cries, you are showing that you have heard her and that she matters. This is the start of communication.
Tips to encourage speech
- Practice simple sounds together – ‘maa’ and ‘daa’ are good ones to begin with. Your baby will be very interested in how your mouth works and how the sound comes out.
- When she makes a sound, repeat it so she knows what sound she has just made.
- Repeat single words and name what she is seeing.
- Talk to your baby as much as possible, explaining what you are doing and saying her name often.
These conversations are very important – not just because you are teaching your child to talk, but also because she’s getting a sense of ‘me and you’ and a connection through language. This is a new and complicated concept, and is the basis for all relationships throughout life.
Babies can become interested in books from a very early age, so read to them often. By three to six months, your baby usually:
- Coos and gurgles with pleasure
- Begins babbling and then listening at around three to four months
- ‘Talks’ to toys at around five to six months
- Turns head towards sounds.
Activities to boost baby’s development:
- Talk to your baby all the time, saying what you are doing and what different noises are. Use simple words and very short sentences.
- Make faces and blow raspberries on her belly.
- Sing to her.
- Place her on her tummy to play for short periods.
- Place her on the floor without a nappy to allow freedom to kick.
- Give her bright objects to look at and place some within reach so she can accidentally touch them, and then try to touch them again.
- Provide a variety of things to do and either change what she is looking at, or move her to a different spot so the view changes.
Don’t become fixated on milestones
Milestones are often a source of stress for new moms, particularly if they focus too much on ticking off items on a development chart rather than simply enjoying the glorious journey of their child’s growth. So, back away from the computer! Fueled by Google searches, your mind can go down all sorts of frightening paths if your baby is not hitting milestone markers. But the truth is that ‘normal’ has very broad parameters.
Every baby is unique, but your instincts are important, too. The earlier a problem is detected, the earlier it can be treated. Consult your doctor if you’re concerned about your baby’s development, or if you notice any red flags.
Our experienced editors work with trained journalists and qualified experts to compile accurate, insightful and helpful information about pregnancy, birth, early childhood development and parenting. Our content is reviewed regularly by our panel of advisors, which include medical doctors and healthcare professionals.