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 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, 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 start to ‘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 shutting 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.
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 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.
- Give your baby tummy time: 1-5 minutes of tummy play each day 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 special 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 more 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.
But a lot 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 your baby 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 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 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 baby 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 their eyes on something but instead crosses their 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 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.
You should also 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. Symptoms of postnatal depression include feeling sad and crying for no obvious reason, feeling irritable, having difficulty coping and feeling very anxious.