Month 3: Reaching & Reacting

by Penny Warner

BABY'S PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Body is Growing

  • Soft Spot – Your baby has two soft spots, a larger one on the top of his head and a smaller one at the back. By now the posterior fontanel (back) has probably “closed,” meaning the cartilage there has hardened into bone. The frontal fontanel won’t harden and close until about a year and a half old.
  • Scooting – Your baby may show signs of beginning to scoot when he’s lying on his tummy. He’ll raise his buttocks up in the air and try to “push” off the carpet or floor. You may find that when you leave the room and return minutes later, he has miraculously inched across the floor. 
  • Weight Gain – As baby continues to get his nutrition from breast milk, he’ll add about a half pound around this time.

How You Can Help

  • Soft Spot – The soft spot is a safety net for baby, whose still rather pliable head is somewhat resilient. But baby can develop a “flat head” if he spends too much time in one position, especially on his back, (which is now recommended to help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Make sure to change baby’s position often, and give him some propped sitting time.
  • Scooting – To encourage scooting, place baby on his tummy on a soft surface. Place your open hands at the bottoms of his feet, to provide resistance, and gently push them forward. Baby should tuck his legs, raising his buttocks. When he’s in this position, keep your hands steady, and you’ll find he begins to “shove” himself forward.
  • Weight Gain – As your baby puts on weight, he’s digesting his food better and spitting up less. It’s tempting to introduce cereal when you hear the old wives’ tale about how it helps baby sleep through the night. But he’ll sleep through when he’s ready, and doesn’t need the extra calories for several more months.

BABY’S COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Brain is Maturing

  • Brain Growth – Baby’s brain growth is amazingly rapid during the first year. When he was born, his brain weighed about 25 percent of the adult brain weight. By the end of the first year, the brain is about 50 percent of the adult weight, and 75 percent by age two.
  • Memory – Baby’s memory is developing each time he’s reintroduced to a stimuli – a plaything, person, or event. A baby can remember something that happened as long as a week or so in the past, if it was exciting enough to gain his attention the first time. 
  • Language Development – Your baby is making new sounds, as he learns to play with his lips, tongue, and throat. He likes to coo, and to listen to the sound of his own voice as he repeats noises. He also likes to gurgle the saliva at the back of his throat, and make other interesting sounds.

How You Can Help

  • Brain Growth – As your baby’s brain continues to grow, it’s important that you continue to stimulate your baby, through language, experiences, his senses, and the environment. The more he is stimulated, the further and faster his intellectual functioning will increase. Play with him, talk to him, show him his world, and give him opportunity and time to interact with playthings and people.
  • Memory – Give him a toy that makes a noise when gently squeezed, and place it in his hand. Squeeze it for him, then watch his reaction. Soon he’ll be squeezing it himself, in an attempt to make the noise: He’s remembering cause and effect.
  • Language Development – Trying to coordinate the parts of the mouth for speech is a tricky business for baby – and lots of fun! Practice a variety of sounds with him, while he sits in your lap, face to face. Gurgle, blow bubbles, make raspberries, puff your mouth, whistle – be creative with sound and watch your baby’s fascination. He’ll soon be making all those sounds himself, great practice for the varieties of speech.

BABY’S PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Personality is Unfolding

  • Adaptability – Some babies adapt easily to changes in their environment, schedule, and caregivers. Other babies seem to become irritable if their routines are disturbed or interrupted in some way. This temperament aspect of personality seems to be innate at birth.
  • Interaction with Environment – You may see your baby begin to interact more specifically with a special toy or plaything. He’s exploring the properties of the objects and learning about them through frequent contact with the senses.
  • Loneliness – Your baby feels lonely at times and may simply want to be picked up, held, and talked to. He’ll let you know he wants attention by trying to look for the caregiver, calling out, fussing, even crying. Your close proximity to baby makes him feel comforted, safe, and secure.

How You Can Help

  • Adaptability – If your baby seems happier with the same routine, you might try to keep it as consistent as possible. But if you want to introduce change, do it slowly, talk to your baby about what’s happening so the tone of your voice is reassuring and comforting, and try to keep changes at a minimum.
  • Interaction with Environment – When you offer your baby a rattle or soft toy to hold, watch how he interacts with it. He may look at it, shake it, squeeze it, put it in his mouth, even throw it – all to see what it’s about. Show baby how to manipulate his toys by demonstrating all the properties of the object, and let him try out each one, with your help.
  • Loneliness – When your baby is feeling lonely, you might consider keeping him with you as you do your tasks around the home. A great way to have baby with you, and keep him company, is to wear him in a Snugli® as you move from place to place. When you must leave him for a minute, talk to him so he knows you still exist, even though he can’t see you. He’ll begin to feel your presence nearby, and feel secure.