Newborn development at 2-3 months: what’s happening
At 2-3 months, your baby understands that voices and faces go together – especially yours. That’s because she has formed a strong attachment to you. She might follow you with her eyes and enjoy smiling at you. When you speak to her, she might even echo you back.
Your baby is starting to look more closely at objects like small blocks and toys, and his eyes can follow objects moving in a circle or in an arc over his head.
Around this time, your baby might cry and fuss more – this is a normal part of development and will pass in time. Every baby is different, but crying and fussing usually peaks at around 6-8 weeks and starts to settle around 12-16 weeks.
Your baby is starting to communicate with you in new ways. For example, her cry when she’s hungry might be different from when she’s in pain. She’ll still use facial expressions and body language to try to tell you things too. Your baby might start laughing. By three months she might even start to ‘coo’.
By now your baby is probably showing emotions like interest, disgust, distress and enjoyment.
Your baby can probably bring his hands together. His hands will be open most of the time now, and he likes opening and shutting them. He’s also starting to use his hands and eyes together and might even reach for your face or swing his hands towards an object.
When your baby is on her tummy, she might rest on her forearms or roll on to her side. She might stretch out her legs and kick when she’s on her tummy or back. If you hold her in a standing position – for example, on the floor or in your lap – she might try to stand on her legs.
Helping newborn development at 2-3 months
Here are some very simple things you can do with your baby around this time to help development:
- Play together: your baby feels loved and secure when you play with him. And you don’t need special toys – try simple activities like talking, reading, singing songs like ‘Twinkle twinkle little star’, and playing games like peekaboo.
- Smile at your baby: when your baby sees you smile, it releases natural chemicals in her body that make her good, safe and secure. It also builds attachment to you.
- Give your baby tummy time: spending 1-5 minutes playing on his tummy each day builds your baby’s head, neck and upper body strength. Your baby needs these muscles to lift his head, crawl and pull himself up to stand when he’s older. Always watch your baby during tummy time and put him on his back to sleep.
- Try baby massage: baby massage is a great way to bond with your baby. It can also be relaxing and soothing if your baby is cranky.
Sometimes your baby won’t want to do some of these things – for example, she might be too tired or hungry. She’ll use special baby cues to let you know when she’s had enough and what she needs.
Newborn crying and how to respond
Sometimes you’ll know why your baby is crying. When you respond to crying – for example, by feeding your baby if he’s hungry – he feels more comfortable and safe.
Sometimes you might not know why your baby is crying, but it’s still important to comfort her. You can’t spoil your baby by picking her up, cuddling her or talking to her in a soothing voice.
But lots of crying might make you feel frustrated, upset or overwhelmed. It’s OK to take some time out until you feel calmer. Put your baby in a safe place like a cot, or ask someone else to hold him for a while. Try going to another room to breathe deeply, or call a family member or friend to talk things through.
Never shake a baby. It can cause bleeding inside the brain and likely permanent brain damage.
It’s OK to ask for help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the demands of caring for your baby, call your local Parentline. You might also like to try our ideas for dealing with anger, anxiety and stress.
Parenting a newborn
Every day you and your baby will learn a little more about each other. As your baby grows and develops, you’ll learn more about what she needs and how you can meet these needs.
As a parent, you’re always learning. It’s OK to feel confident about what you know. And it’s also OK to admit you don’t know something and ask questions or get help.
When you’re focusing on looking after your baby, you might forget or run out of time to look after yourself. But looking after yourself physically, mentally and emotionally will help your child grow and thrive.
When to be concerned about newborn development
Seeing, hearing and communicating
- is crying a lot and this is worrying you
- can’t focus his eyes on something but instead crosses his eyes most of the time (it’s normal for baby’s eyes to cross occasionally in these months)
- isn’t looking you in the eyes, even for a short time
- doesn’t pay attention to faces
- isn’t making sounds or responding to loud noises.
- isn’t feeding well
- isn’t sleeping well
- is very tired or sleeps a lot more than expected – that is, more than around 16 hours a day
- isn’t beginning to smile.
- keeps her hands in a fist most of the time
- is very floppy or very stiff.
If you notice that your baby has lost skills he once had, see a child health professional.
You should also see your child and family health nurse or GP if you or your partner experiences the signs of postnatal depression in women or postnatal depression in men. Symptoms of postnatal depression include feeling sad and crying for no obvious reason, feeling irritable, having difficulty coping and feeling very anxious.