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 your baby has formed a strong attachment to you. Your baby might follow you with their eyes and enjoy smiling at you. When you speak to your baby, they might even echo you back.
Your baby is starting to look more closely at objects like small blocks and toys, and their eyes can follow objects moving in a circle or in an arc over their head.
Around this time, your baby might still cry and fuss – this is a typical part of development and will pass in time. 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, your baby’s cry when they’re hungry might be different from when they’re in pain. Your baby will still use facial expressions and body language to try to tell you things too. Your baby might start laughing. By 3 months your baby might even ‘coo’.
By now your baby is probably showing emotions like interest, disgust, distress and enjoyment.
Your baby can probably bring their hands together. Your baby’s hands will be open most of the time now, and your baby might like opening and closing them. Your baby is also starting to use their hands and eyes together and might even reach for your face or swing their hands towards an object.
When your baby is on their tummy, they might rest on their forearms or roll on to their side. Your baby might stretch out their legs and kick when they’re on their tummy or back. If you hold your baby in a standing position – for example, on the floor or in your lap – they might try to stand on their legs.
When you hold your baby or help them to sit up, you might notice that they’re starting to control their head movements.
Helping newborn development at 2-3 months
Here are simple things you can do to help your baby’s development around this age:
- Hold and cuddle your baby: this helps your baby feel safe and secure. It can also help with bonding between you and your baby.
- Play together: your baby feels loved and secure when you play with them. 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 their body that make them feel good, safe and secure. It also builds attachment to you.
- Make eye contact with your baby: when you get your baby to follow your eyes, it encourages your baby to turn their head. This builds your baby’s neck strength and head control.
- Give your baby tummy time: start with 1-2 minutes and build up to 10-15 minutes several times a day. Tummy time builds your baby’s head, neck and upper body strength. Your baby needs these muscles to lift their head, crawl and pull themselves up to stand when they’re older. Always watch your baby during tummy time, and put your baby on their 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, they might be too tired or hungry. Your baby will use baby cues to let you know when they’ve had enough and what they need.
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 they’re hungry – your baby feels comfortable and safe.
Sometimes you might not know why your baby is crying, but it’s still important to comfort your baby. You can’t spoil your baby by picking them up, cuddling them or talking to them in a soothing voice.
Never shake a baby. It can cause bleeding inside the brain and likely permanent brain damage. If you feel like you can’t cope, it’s OK to take some time out until you feel calmer. Gently put your baby in a safe place like a cot. Go to another room to breathe deeply, or call your state or territory parenting helpline .
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 your baby 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 OK to admit you don’t know something and ask questions or get help.
It’s also important to look after yourself. Looking after yourself physically, mentally and emotionally is good for you, and it’s good for your baby. When you’re well, you can give your baby the loving attention they need to grow and thrive. You can also cope better if your baby is crying a lot.
Remember that part of looking after yourself is asking for help, especially if you’re feeling stressed, anxious or angry. There are many people who can support you and your baby, including your partner, friends, relatives, child and family health nurse and GP.
When to be concerned about newborn development
You know your baby best. So it’s a good idea to see your child and family health nurse or GP if you have any concerns or notice that your 3-month-old has any of the following difficulties.
Seeing, hearing and communicating
- is crying a lot and this is worrying you
- isn’t looking you in the eyes, even for a short time
- doesn’t pay attention to faces
- isn’t making sounds when you speak to them
- doesn’t react to loud noises
- isn’t distracted by the sound of a rattle.
- isn’t feeding well at the breast or bottle
- seems very tired
- is sleeping more than is typical for newborn sleep
- isn’t smiling when you talk to or smile at them.
- keeps their hands in a fist most of the time
- is very floppy or very stiff.
If you notice that your baby has lost skills they once had, see a child health professional.
It’s also a good idea to see your child and family health nurse or GP if you or your partner experiences the signs of postnatal depression in birthing mothers or postnatal depression in non-birthing parents. Signs of postnatal depression include feeling sad and crying for no obvious reason, feeling irritable, having difficulty coping and feeling very anxious.
Development usually happens in the same order in most children, but skills might develop at different ages or times. If you’re wondering whether your child’s development is on track or you feel that something isn’t quite right, it’s best to get help early. See your child and family health nurse or GP.