Baby Care

3 Month Old Baby Milestones

Three months is a turning point for many babies and their parents. Your baby is no longer a newborn and they have officially completed the first quarter of their first year of life. They have reached a number of milestones, such as tracking objects with their eyes, reaching and grasping for things with their hands, and pushing up on their arms when lying on their tummy. What amazing accomplishments!

For many parents, 3 months marks a time when things get a little easier. Some of the not-so-fun parts of caring for a newborn—like colic and constant feeding—may have gotten better. At this age, sleep schedules may have become a little more predictable, too.

Still, there are some challenges that come with having a 3-month-old, and if you are still feeling tired and overwhelmed, that’s normal too. Let’s take a look at what milestones to expect once your baby turns 3 months, as well as some feeding, sleep, baby care, and health and safety tips.

Joshua Seong

At This Age

  • Development: Your baby will start to recognize you from farther distances, and will now be able to start lifting their head and chest up from a belly-down position.
  • Food: The length between feedings has stretched out and you may have a more predictable feeding routine.
  • Sleep: More of your baby’s sleep happens at night now, and your baby may start sleeping longer stretches at night—some babies are even sleeping through the night.

3-Month-Old Physical Milestones

A 3-month-old baby has hit an exciting time. By the end of this month, they may begin to laugh (so get that camera ready!). But they’ll also start to develop hand-eye coordination, which will help set your little one up to achieve something spectacular in the next month or so: the ability to roll over.

Your baby’s movements become more focused and steady as they try new things, including:

Head Control

The biggest thing is the head control that a 3-month-old baby gains, says Kenneth Wible, MD, medical director of the Pediatric Care Center at Children’s Mercy Hospitals & Clinics in Kansas City, Missouri. “They should be able to hold their head steady if you hold them upright. Sometimes they will lift their head up if they get their arms under them.”

Hand Use

Your 3-month-old will also start to use their hands more and might put them together in front of themselves. “They’re not going to take things, but if you present them with a toy or something else that attracts their attention, they’ll hit it with their fist,” Dr. Wible says.

Arm Coordination

As the month goes on, your 3-month-old baby will continue to gather strength in their core and extremities. “During that third month, they’re really developing their coordination with their arms; they’re learning the control of their arms and the awareness. Rattles with sounds can be very helpful because it gives them feedback about where their arms are,” says Donna Eshelman, a movement specialist and founder of Stellar Caterpillar, a Los Angeles-based business focused on helping babies reach their gross motor milestones in the first year.

Toward the end of the third month, you might see your baby roll over, she adds. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists this as a 6-month milestone, many babies surprise their parents with this trick much earlier.

Most babies first roll from their tummies to their backs, then as they get stronger and more coordinated, from their back to their tummy. Another reason to encourage tummy time!

Leg Use

You may notice that your baby really begins to work their legs at 3 months old. If you lay them on their belly or back, your baby should start kicking their legs playfully and stretching their legs out. If you try to stand or sit your baby up (while supporting them, of course!), they will push down with their feet.

Additional Behaviors at 3 Months

Here are some other exciting milestones your baby is likely to reach this month:

  • They will continue to expand and refine their vocal skills, cooing and even starting to babble
  • They may be able to hold objects for longer periods of time and may be able to start shaking them
  • They may begin imitating sounds that they hear
  • They will turn toward whoever is speaking

3-Month-Old Feeding Milestones

By 3 months old, babies are still feeding frequently, but not quite as frequently as when they were newborns. Many parents find that they are more settled into a feeding routine, and can more readily predict when their baby will need to eat, and begin to plan their days around this.

Breastfeeding babies still need to feed at least eight times in a 24-hour period, but some babies are still feeding more frequently than that. There is a wide range of normal. While breastfeeding, let your baby finish one breast before offering the other. Let your baby guide you in this process.

Formula-fed babies may be able to stretch the time between feedings to up to four hours. They generally take about six ounces per feeding at this age, but again, this will vary depending on how hungry your baby is. Always feed your baby based on their hunger cues.

Only about half of all parents are still exclusively breastfeeding when their babies hit the 3-month mark. This is often because parents have gone back to work and find it difficult to keep up with a pumping schedule. It’s important to keep in mind that breastfeeding isn’t all or nothing. It’s possible to combine formula and breastfeeding. 

You can talk to a lactation consultant or health care provider about how to do this, and what the best ways are to keep up your milk supply as you return to work.

3-Month-Old Sleep Milestones

Three months marks some significant changes when it comes to sleep. Your baby is still sleeping about 15 hours a day, give or take. But now, they are doing the bulk of their sleep at night, which will come as a welcome relief to parents.

This means that, rather than sleeping at random times during the day, your baby is starting to take actual naps during the day, followed by longer periods of playtime. All babies are different when it comes to naptime, though, so don’t be surprised if you still have a catnapper at this age.

“Naps are varied—some take thirty-minute ones throughout the day, others take two longer ones,” says Gina Posner, MD, a pediatrician at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, CA. “Most take at least two naps a day at this point.”

Three months is also the time that some babies are able to technically start to sleep through the night. But many babies just aren’t there yet, says Dr. Posner. “I wouldn’t expect a baby to sleep through the night, but some do,” she notes.

Keep in mind, too, that “sleeping through the night” has a different definition when it comes to babies. A 3-month-old is considered to be sleeping through if they have slept six to eight hours in a row, even though they may sleep a total of nine or 10 hours a night. Still, many babies aren’t even there just yet, and still wake every few hours all night. This is perfectly normal, too.

3-Month-Old Schedule and Routine Milestones

It may not seem like it, but your baby is rapidly developing their language skills. Your baby has been cooing for a while, but this month, you may start to hear them babble. They may respond with smiles while they hear your voice and may even start trying to imitate the words that you say.

As your baby starts to have longer stretches of awake time during the day, you can use that time to talk to your baby, interact with them, and even start reading books to them. All of these activities help develop their language and communications skills.

So, talk to your baby as you draw them a bath and change their diaper. Describe what you’re doing with them. Watch and marvel as they listen attentively, even though they probably don’t really know what you are saying.

As for reading, select books that are brightly colored, simple, and that give you opportunities to be animated and silly as you read. Baby-friendly books that your little one can grab and play with are even better.

3-Month-Old Health and Wellness Milestones

Your baby isn’t too messy yet (just wait till they start eating solids!), but caring for a baby involves quite a lot of clean-ups. Let’s look at what to expect this month.


You are still changing a lot of diapers, though maybe not quite as many as before. Your 3-month-old isn’t pooping nearly as much as they did as a newborn. It’s normal if they only poop once or twice a day, and even go a few days in a row without pooping. Your breastfed baby’s poop will still be loose, but formula-fed babies have firmer poops.

Spitting Up

Your baby probably isn’t spitting up quite as much as they did as a newborn, but it’s normal to continue to spit up sometimes at 3 months. As long as your baby is growing and is a “happy spitter,” you don’t need to be concerned. Just have a good supply of burp cloths on hand.  


Your baby is probably not about to get any teeth just yet, but the teething process may be starting, and it’s normal for drooling to start as early as 3 months. Your baby may even start to have a few “drool bubbles.”

Drooling is not an issue as long as it’s not accompanied by other signs of illness, like fever or congestion. If your baby is drooling and is having trouble breathing, they may have choked; seek immediate emergency care if this is the case.

Safety Considerations at 3 Months

You likely won’t have another well visit for your baby until they reach 4 months; however, you should of course contact a pediatrician or health care provider with any questions you may have before then. If your baby shows any signs of illness or fever, or has any kind of accident, contact a health care professional right away.

At 3 months, you know the basics about keeping your baby healthy and safe. But there are a few safety issues that might come up now for you to be aware of.

Shopping Cart Safety

Now that you are out and about more, you will likely start taking your baby on errands with you. It can be tempting to take their portable infant car seat and place it on the top of a shopping cart, but this is not considered safe. In fact, according to the AAP, shopping cart accidents are one of the greatest dangers to young children, and account for 20,000 emergency room visits per year.

If you do take your baby shopping with you, it’s best not to place your baby in a shopping cart. Shopping carts can even be dangerous for older children. The AAP suggests that you instead wear your baby in a baby carrier, or use a stroller or wagon. If none of those are possible, it might be best to keep your baby home rather than take them shopping.

Taking Medications While Breastfeeding

If you are still breastfeeding your baby, you may have questions about what types of medications are safe to take—from cold medications to antibiotics to medication to treat anxiety or depression. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most medications are safe for breastfeeding parents; however, you should always check with a health care professional. If a medication isn’t safe, there is often an alternative that is. Discuss your options with a pediatrician, health care provider, or a lactation consultant.

Things to Keep in Mind

Don’t freak out if your 3-month-old baby seems slow to reach gross motor milestones. “If the baby doesn’t put [their] hands together or doesn’t necessarily babble but makes other sounds, that’s OK,” Dr. Wible says. “They do things at their own pace and their rate.”

That said, if you have concerns. Don’t hesitate to bring them to your baby’s doctor. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), some early signs of a physical or gross motor delay include:

  • Having trouble rolling over, sitting, or walking
  • Unable to hold head and neck steady
  • Muscles that seem stiff or floppy

In addition, you should alert your doctor if your baby isn’t symmetrically moving their arms or legs or prefers one extremity over another. This could be a sign of a central nerve injury, says Dr. Wible, adding that he doesn’t like to dwell on red flags at this age. “I’ve seen babies with red flags, and they turn out to be fine,” he says.

Your baby is still growing very rapidly these days, and after their latest growth spurt, they may even be ready to grow into the next size of clothing. You probably have noticed that their face has filled out and their little arms and legs have become chunkier. So cute!

Your baby generally grows about 1 to 1 ½ inches taller at this age and gains about 1 ½ to 2 pounds per month. But in about 4 months, your baby will have doubled their birth weight. Keep in mind that these are all estimates. It’s normal if your baby’s growth is a little slower and faster than this. All babies grow at their own rates.

How to Support Your Baby’s Development at 3 Months

There are many ways to encourage your 3-month-old baby to develop their motor skills. It is important to remember that you can’t rush your child’s development, but you can make motor skill development lots of fun for you and your baby. Here are a few ideas.

Offer Lots of Tummy Time

Your baby should get plenty of tummy time every day. “That’s such an important time,” Eshelman says. “It’s like a cornerstone of motor development.”

The pressure of their hands on the floor during tummy time connects them to the muscles of the hands and shoulders, developing strength.

Experts at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, offer some tips for tummy time, such as:

  • Spread a blanket for your baby to lie on.
  • Prop your baby up slightly with a rolled-up towel under their arms.
  • Keep it short to limit frustration.
  • Try regular times, like after a nap or diaper change.
  • Try to encourage interaction by placing a toy just out of their reach.
  • Sit in front of your baby to interact and bond.

The exercise your 3-month-old baby gets now can pay off in the future. “Later, around months six and seven, they will sit up for the first time with gorgeous posture if they’ve had a lot of practice,” Eshelman says. “A lot of times, parents will put them sitting up too soon, and their spine will curl backward because they don’t have strength.”

Explore Together

Encourage your baby to explore their surroundings in new ways, Dr. Wible says. “Allow them to touch their feet to surfaces, and challenge them with toys and attractive objects that encourage them to try to reach or grasp for something,” he suggests.

Encourage Hands-On Play

Eshelman encourages toys that make a sound based on a baby’s movement, such as a rattle, “as opposed to something electronic and lights up when you push a button,” she says. The unplugged rattles help develop the movement of the hands and arms, whereas the electrical toys only develop finger movement.

“It is very important to choose rattles that are a size that fits into [your] baby’s small grip. A simple maraca or barbell shape is the perfect first rattle,” she adds.

When to Talk to a Health Care Provider

Talk to a health care provider if you have concerns about your child’s development. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, babies should see their doctor for well-child checkups six times before their first birthday. This way, they can monitor how well and when your baby reaches essential milestones.

The CDC recommends talking to a health care provider early if you have concerns since early intervention can make a difference. They can help you determine if delays are within a normal range or concerning and direct you to developmental screening and intervention if necessary.

Additional reporting by Wendy Wisner.

Babies this age should still be only consuming breastmilk or formula. Solid foods aren’t appropriate for 3-month-olds.

Your baby isn’t talking yet, but they may be cooing or babbling.

Your baby can’t see very clearly from a distance, but may be able to make out some of the shapes and colors on the TV if they are close enough. However, most experts recommend against allowing 3-month-olds to watch TV.

3-month-old babies take several naps a day, usually about two to four in total.

You don’t have to wake your 3-month-old to eat if they sleep long stretches at night, but if they wake up hungry, you should feed them.

Three-month-olds usually sleep nine to 10 hours at night and about four to five hours during the day. Put your baby to sleep when they show signs of fatigue, such as rubbing their eyes or acting fussy.

Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button