Congratulations on making it through the 4th trimester! As you emerge from the hazy fog of the first 3 months, you may notice your baby also spends more wakeful hours and is becoming more active. Looking for ways to play together that encourage your child’s development?
One moment you’re stuck in the never-ending newborn cycle of eat, poop, sleep, unaware of what day it is and wondering when you last took a shower. And the next moment, you find your little baby is already 3 months old. In the weeks that have passed, you and your baby have both grown and a whole new world of rich interactions are now possible.
I remember the first time my daughter smiled in response to something I did. It was December 2014 and one of the songs constantly on the radio was Lips are Movin’ by Meghan Trainor. Out of boredom one day, I changed the lyrics to “I know you’re hungry! Your lips are movin”. And I SWEAR she looked at me and smiled and moved her mouth. It was such an amazing moment!
As your little one starts to hit new milestones, you may feel a new sense of responsibility for helping your baby thrive in her environment. Luckily, it’s really simple to help her grow - you just need to be aware of how she is developing and play in ways that encourage these emerging skills.
Your Baby’s Development: What’s Happening Now
At 3 months of age, your child is more in control of her body. Her head and neck muscles have grown stronger and she likely holds her head up well and may even lift her upper chest off the ground while on her tummy. Linguistically, she can now make two different sounds and her cries and noises may sound different when she’s hungry vs uncomfortable vs happy, etc. This is the beginning of her using sounds to communicate her wants and needs. (that’s right - she’s already talking to you!) Cognitively, she can start imitating some facial expressions. And socially, she is increasingly familiar with her primary caregivers. She recognizes familiar people at a distance and smiles when smiled at (get ready to make a lot of silly faces as you try to get that smile just once more).
You are finally getting more interaction from your baby. As you notice these opportunities to engage, you can expose her to short games that will also help her learn.
3-Month-Old Baby Activities: Playfully’s favorite picks
Place your baby on her tummy and put a favorite toy a few inches out in front her. Draw her attention to the toy.
Put your hands up against her feet so she can push off of them and propel herself closer to the toy. Count how many pushes it takes to get there and cheer her on as she goes. You can repeat by placing the toy further and further away.
Make sure to watch for signs of overstimulation and take a break if it’s getting to be too much.
Your baby is building strength in her head, neck, core and legs. Look to see if she can fully extend her legs when pushing against your hands.
Place your baby on her back. Shake a rattle to one side of her head and wait to see if she reacts or turns toward the sound. Repeat on the other side.
Then, roll her onto her belly, place the rattle in front of her and draw her attention to it by tapping it, shaking it or moving it slowly from side to side. If she starts to reach or swat at it, bring it closer and celebrate her attempts to grab it.
This activity is a great way to stimulate your baby’s auditory system. As she begins to learn about cause-and-effect relationships, she may enjoy objects that make interesting noises.
Lie on your back and place your baby on your tummy so that she is facing you.
Securely wrap your hands around her torso and ask, "Where's my baby?"
Raise her over your head so that she is looking down at you and say, "There you are!"
Lower her back to your stomach and begin the game again.
Your baby is developing core strength. When she is lying on your tummy in this activity, look to see if she can lift her head and chest while keeping her pelvis and lower extremities flat on your body.
Place your baby comfortably on her back. You can play some relaxing music if you want to set the mood.
Stretch her arms out by lifting them up over her head, then opening them out to the side, and finally bringing them in again across her chest. Repeat 10 times.
Help her build midline skills by holding both feet, bringing them up and clapping them together above the middle of her body, then repeat with her hands, clapping them together above the middle of her body. Repeat 10 times.
Baby yoga is a great way to share physical touch, which builds trust with your child and nurtures your bond. When you clap her feet together, you’re engaging her in ‘foot play’ which is one of the ways she desensitizes the bottoms of the feet for later standing and walking.
This article is part of a series in collaboration with Playfully.
Playfully makes it easier for busy parents to set their children up for a lifetime of success. By partnering with child development experts and distilling their knowledge into personalized, bite-sized, actionable chunks, Playfully helps you support your child’s growth and development through play and makes sure you have FUN while doing so.
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