3-Month-Old Milestones: Your Baby's Development at 3 Months

Picture of Robyn Rosenblum, MD, FAAP

3 month old milestones

Wow, time sure flies! Your little one is already a quarter of a year old. They’re becoming more active and responsive each day, and it’s incredible to witness their growth. This month, they’ll be developing some exciting 3-month-old milestones that’ll have you beaming with pride.

Let’s look at what to expect from your baby’s development over the next few weeks.

Table of contents

What are developmental milestones?

baby laying on back in crib

Babies learn and grow at their own pace. However, there are some core skills that most babies develop around the same time. These are known as developmental milestones, and they’re a great way to track your baby’s progress.

There are four main categories of developmental milestones: social/emotional, language and communication, cognitive, and physical or movement.

Each category includes specific skills that babies learn around a certain age. These milestones are meant to serve as a guide. Your little one may already be able to do some of them, and they may not learn a couple for another month or two, and that’s OK.

The goal is to see progress toward the milestones from one month to the next.

3-month-old milestones

So, what exciting skills will your baby be learning at this age? Let’s look at the 3-month-old milestones you should see soon.

Social/emotional milestones

This is the age when social smiles begin to emerge. Your little one will soon be smiling in response to your smile, voice, and touch.

You may also notice strangers commenting about what a happy baby you have. Your baby will be watching everyone and everything around them with curiosity. Anyone who engages with them will likely get a big smile in return.

But three-month-olds aren’t all smiles. They’re also starting to enjoy your attention more and may start crying when playtime stops. This is a good sign. Your baby is experiencing all sorts of emotions and trying to learn how to express what they want and need.

Language milestones

baby wearing a beanie

Don’t be surprised if some big noises come from your little one. They realize they can make different sounds by moving their lips, tongue, and vocal cords.

Your baby will start to coo, gurgle, and squeal as they experiment. They may even try to copy some of the sounds you make.

While these vocalizations won’t make much sense yet, it’s a sign that their language skills are developing. Someday soon, you’ll hear that precious little voice call for you.

Cognitive milestones

At three months old, your baby becomes more aware of their surroundings. They’ll start to follow objects with their eyes and can track a moving toy or person for a short distance.

You may notice them staring intently at you, studying your face. This is because they’re learning to recognize familiar faces and are generally drawn to human faces.

But, if they see something new on a face – such as a pair of glasses or a beard – they may suddenly start crying and pull away. If this happens, don’t take it personally. They’re trying to make sense of this unexpected change, and it’ll take some time for them to get used to it.

Another milestone you may notice this month is your little one trying to grab something. They discovered their hands last month, and now it’s time for them to learn how to use them. While their movements won’t be precise, it won’t be long before they grab everything in sight.

Physical milestones

Your little one is quickly gaining control of their head and neck. By three months old, they should be able to hold their head steady for a few moments and even turn it from side to side.

During tummy time, your baby will start pushing up on their arms. While at first, they’ll flop back down almost immediately, they’ll soon be spending more time in this position with their heads held high, like the baby in this video is doing:

All this upper body work is helping prepare your baby for rolling over. But the arms aren’t the only part of your baby getting stronger.

Their legs are as well. If you put their feet on a flat surface, they’ll push their legs straight and then bend them. Some babies like to do this over and over again, and it looks like they’re jumping, except their feet never leave the ground.

How to practice for 3-month-old milestones

Mom checking in on 3 month old milestones

Now that you know what 3-month-old milestones to expect, you can help your baby practice and develop their skills.

Here are a few simple ways to incorporate these milestones into your daily routine:

Narrate your day.

Talk to your baby and describe what you’re doing as you go about your day. This helps develop their language skills and lets them practice turning their head toward the sound of your voice.

Add play time to your routine.

Babies and children learn through play, so make playtime a regular part of your routine. And don’t worry if you don’t have much free time. Even 10 minutes of playtime each day can help with developmental growth.

Here are some of our favorite ways to play with a three-month-old:

  • Clap your baby’s hands together while singing
  • Play This Little Piggy. Silly nursery rhymes are so much fun.
  • Place your baby in their play yard and walk around the room calling their name. You’ll see them trying to see where the sound is coming from.
  • Try Peek-a-Boo. While our baby may not understand the concept yet, they’ll enjoy the interaction and eventually learn to anticipate what’s coming next.

Promote healthy sleep habits.

Your baby can’t grow if they don’t sleep. The brain processes critical development during sleep, so it’s important to establish healthy sleep habits.

Ensure your baby has a safe place to sleep, such as in a Bassinet & Bedside Sleeper or a traditional crib with a breathable mattress. Follow the safe sleep guidelines and begin creating a bedtime routine to help your baby wind down at night and prepare for sleep.

Practice standing.

While it’ll be a while before your little one is standing alone, three months is the perfect age to begin helping them stand for a few seconds at a time.

Hold them securely under their arms and place their feet on the ground. Continue holding onto them so their little legs aren’t supporting all of their weight.

As your baby gets used to having something solid under their feet, they’ll straighten their legs. Soon, they’ll be bending and straightening at the knee, which helps strengthen their muscles.

Play music.

Music is a great way to stimulate your baby’s brain and help their development. Put on your favorite playlist and sing along. You’ll likely be rewarded with some big smiles!

What if your baby isn’t on track?

Mom taking baby to doctor to check in on 3 month old milestones

If you read through the above list of milestones and feel like your baby isn’t quite there yet, don’t panic. Each child is unique and develops at their own pace.

As long as your little one progresses, there’s likely nothing to worry about. However, talking to your pediatrician is always a good idea when you're concerned about your baby's development.

They can assess potential issues and provide individualized tips to help your baby reach their milestones.

When to talk to your doctor about milestones

The American Academy of Pediatrics developed a list of warning signs that could indicate a medical or developmental problem in your three-month-old.

If you notice any of these, you’ll want to bring them up at your next appointment.

  • Seems to ignore loud noises
  • Not trying to track items with their eyes
  • Doesn’t smile at people
  • Isn’t holding their head up yet when on their belly or seems floppy
  • Hasn’t started cooing or babbling
  • Regularly has crossed eyes
  • Struggles to move one or both eyes in all directions

Of course, these are just warning signs. Just because you notice one or two of them doesn’t automatically mean that there’s a problem. It does mean that you should mention it to the doctor so they can assess the situation and make sure nothing serious is going on.

Newton is here for you and your baby.

baby getting ready to crawl

Navigating through your baby’s 3-month-old milestones can be thrilling and terrifying all at the same time. Watching your little one grow and develop is an amazing experience, but it can also bring up feelings of worry or uncertainty.

When those feelings strike, it helps to remember that every baby is different. So try not to compare your baby with others. Instead, celebrate their individuality and focus on the progress they have made.

And remember, whether you’re a first-time parent or a seasoned pro, Newton Baby is here for you. From sharing helpful tips and parenting advice to designing high-quality products that keep your little one safe, we’re always here to support you on this journey through parenthood.

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