Tot life: 3-6 month development
This is such a fun period developmentally!
Your baby learns to laugh, to roll, and is busy building relationships with the people in her life.
For moms and dads, there’s a lot to love about the 3-6 month phase as your baby emerges from being a 24-hour feeding-sleeping blob into a real little person ready to engage with the world and have some fun!
Vision and hearing
Your baby’s vision will have improved a lot. Your baby will be able to track a moving object with both eyes, look at things that have more detail to them and recognize the important people in her life. At this age babies love brightly colored things, mobiles and watching shadows or movement in nature – try placing your baby outside on a rug or the grass underneath a tree – your baby will love watching the wind move the leaves and listening to the sounds of the wind and birds. At this stage your baby might like to look at books with touchy-feely elements, or familiar people (e.g. a photo album).
Your baby smiles, laughs, makes eye contact, reaches out for you and “chats” to you in her own language – at this age your baby is trying hard to communicate with you. She might try and mimic the sounds you make or the expressions on your face. Cuuute! Your baby will love to stand with you and look in the mirror, chat and listen to the sound of your voice and may even recognize her name.
At this age your baby’s head control will have improved markedly. She might be able to lift her head whilst lying on her belly – if she’s motivated she might even push down on her hands. You can practice sitting your baby up on the floor supported by towels or cushions around her bottom for short periods as she is starting to develop the core muscles that will enable her to sit. She can kick and move her arms and legs with purpose and will grab at things.
This is also the age where, because she can grab at things, everything goes in the mouth. This is part of your baby’s learning – she is exploring the world by feeling things with her mouth, so don’t feel you need to stop her from doing this. You need to make sure that nothing is within baby’s reach that is a choke hazard so keep toys and play things to at least the size of her hand and beware of objects with small bits that may snap off or be removed. Now is also a good time to do a first-aid course and start doing some baby-proofing around the house as your baby is only going to get more ambitious from here!!
Somewhere around the four-month mark your baby might also start to roll – at first accidentally, and then with purpose. It is not uncommon to turn your back and find your baby rolled under a coffee table or bumped up against the sofa! You’ll need to be extra careful around the change table or any surface where your baby could fall – babies this age have more strength and can be more wriggly than newborns.
Sleeping, settling and feeding
If you think routines or schedules are your thing, then this is the time you can start developing a routine with your baby. You can try and encourage your baby to stay awake for longer periods during the day, and some moms try to feed their babies more during the day in an effort to cut down night-time feeds. Your baby’s little tummy has grown a lot by this stage so she can feed more efficiently and less often. If your baby is feeding less often and then suddenly starts demanding more feeds again, it could be that she is having a growth spurt – you might find yourself feeding round the clock again for a week or two before she settles.
The following list isn’t exhaustive. If you think something “isn’t right” with your baby don’t ignore it – go see your family physician. The following are signs you should be mindful of at this age:
– very low or very high muscle tone (very floppy or very tight)
– arms and legs are flexed most of the time
– she reaches with only one hand
– she doesn’t respond to loud noises or bright lights
– her eyes don’t follow what is going on in her environment
– she doesn’t reach for objects, place objects in mouth
– she won’t settle
– she isn’t interested in her surroundings, people (doesn’t laugh, interact with people)