Motor Skills: The First 3 Months

0-3 Months Motor SkillsYour baby’s motor skills include those needed to move and discover the world.  They are usually broken up into two groups called fine motor and gross motor.  Fine motor skills refer to smaller movements (think hands and fingers) and gross motor skills refers to large muscle movements (whole body strength and coordination).

All children develop differently so know that if your baby is not doing the exact same things as another baby, that is ok.  However, if you are concerned about your little one’s development always seek out the Early Intervention program in your area for a free screening or evaluation.  In this post I will give you information about what motor skills look like and how to encourage motor skills in babies from birth to three months.

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0-3 month motor skills include:


Lifting Head

Your baby starting to lift their head is a sign that they are gaining strength.  You may notice this while they are resting on you or when they are held at your shoulder.  When your baby is laying on the floor or a play mat (like this one) for tummy time they may start to bring their head up as well.  From birth on up you will seem them be able to hold it up for longer periods of time.  They will also start to turn it from side to side in order to see what is around them.

Moving Legs and arms

You will notice your baby kicking, moving, and stretching their legs and arms from the very beginning.  When on their backs they may show excitement to a toy or a person by moving all of their limbs.  As they get older they will start to push up with their arms while on their tummy.  All of these movements require coordination and strength which is a lot of work for your little one!

Following with eyes

Your little one’s vision is blurry at first but becomes more clear throughout the first year of life.  Your baby will use their eyes to take in information about their world and process their surroundings.  Your baby will start look at colorful items in the first few months and then gain the ability to track an item both vertically and horizontally. They will start to move their arms and hands near desired objects or toys they they find interesting.  Click HERE for an example of a toy that would work well for this!



Tummy Time

Tummy time is essential for building and strengthening muscles throughout your baby’s body.  Make sure your child is awake when doing this and well supervised.  Start with just a few minutes at a time to see how your baby tolerates it.  Watch their cues and if they are not a fan, just use shorter increments throughout the day. By doing tummy time consistently you are preparing your little one to roll over, crawl, and even walk someday!

You can entertain your little one by lying in front of them so they can see your face.  Take this opportunity to talk, sing, or read a book to your little one (this encourages language, cognitive, and social skills as well)!  Check out this link for more tummy time tips!

Visual Opportunities

Hold toys or interesting objects up for your baby to see.  Try different toys such as rattles or balls to see which ones they like the best.

You may notice they even respond to different colors!  Hold the object about 8-12 inches away from your infants chest, as this is where they can see the best.  Move the object slowly across their line of vision to see if they follow it.


Just playing with your baby will help them to develop and refine their motor skills.  Shake a small rattle in front of them and watch for their response.  Do their eyes widen?  Do their arms and legs stretch out in excitement?  Watch their responses to find out what they like and what they don’t.

(These rattles work great!)

Everything is new to a baby, so look around your environment and explore something new with them.  Gently place a rattle into their hands and let them grasp it, or let them grasp your finger!  During bath time let them try and grasp the wet washcloth as this is something new and interesting to them.  Enjoy this time with your little one and see the world through their eyes!

Would you like to learn about the other areas of development?  Check them out in the list below!

Cognitive Development

Language Development

Self Help Development

Social Development


If you are looking for more ways to encourage your baby’s development check out One Minute Milestones.

An easy way to be PREPARED for you next well baby visit is to download the PDF below!  It is FREE and PRINTABLE.  Those first three months can be a little sleep deprived and busy so use this to easily track all of those exciting milestones in your baby’s first year!

0-3 month motor skills


About Kayla ONeill

This is me and my beautiful bouncing baby boy! Before my little guy arrived I earned a Bachelor's degree in Special Education Birth to 21 as well as my Masters in Education. For six years I worked as an Early Interventionist serving children and families from birth to age three before becoming a stay at home mom to be with my son.

6 comments on “Motor Skills: The First 3 Months

  1. I love these posts! The first 3 months is often about surviving the adjustment to a new baby and a new (crazy) normal! Your posts help to show all the important development that is taking place during this time! 😊

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