Congratulations on the new baby in your life! Whether you are a mom, dad, grandparent, or friend there is so many exciting things to learn about a new baby. From the very first moment they are born, they start to learn. Everything is new to them, so they start to find ways to process information immediately!
In this guide you will find information about each area of child development including: Language, Cognitive, Motor, Social Emotional, and Self Help. If you would like to learn more about these developmental categories click here.
0-3 months Language skills:
Hearing your baby’s cries is a sign that they are working on their expressive language. By crying they are indicating they need something whether it be milk, a clean diaper, or just a snuggle. If you listen closely you will notice their cries change a bit depending on what they want. The pitch, volume, or duration may change to indicate they are hungry or just need a nap.
COOING, LAUGHING, AND SMILING
One of the best moments in any new mom’s life is when she hears her little one coo or giggle for the first time. They may be responding to you or maybe it is just gas, but the sound is delightful and a sign that your baby is able to express themselves. Smiling in response to hearing their mother’s voice is also a cue that they are able to respond to their environment and express happiness in who is near.
RESPONDING TO SOUNDS AND VOICES
Your little one may stop moving and become still when they hear a new sound so that they can take it all in. They may also do the opposite by startling. Both of these reactions show that your little one has heard something that they are unsure of and are trying to process and respond to the information present. This indicates that your little one’s receptive language skills are in place. Most hospitals do a hearing test very soon after birth to ensure your baby is hearing, as it is a critical way for them to take in information.
0-3 MONTHS COGNITIVE SKILLS INCLUDE:
RESPONDING TO SOUNDS IN THEIR ENVIRONMENT
Your little one may stop moving and become still when they hear a new sound so that they can take it all in. They may also do the opposite by startling. Both of these reactions show that your little one has heard something that they are unsure of and are trying to process and respond to the information present. Most hospitals do a hearing test very soon after birth to ensure your baby is hearing, as it is a critical way for them to take in information.
RESPONDING TO VOICE
One of the first things your little one recognizes when they reach the outside world is voices. They have been hearing a muffled version of their mother’s voice for the past months while inside the womb and now are hearing it clearly for the first time. You may notice your baby respond to your voice by stopping crying when they hear you as it is soothing. As they get a little older they may turn their head towards you when they hear your words.
Your little ones first favorite toy will be their hands! Once they discover them they can’t get enough of them! They will start by just looking at their hands which will tell you that they are starting to see a bit more clearly. As soon as they gain some coordination they will be putting them in their mouth to explore them a little bit more. You may also notice your newborns hands are fisted at first but will slowly relax in the upcoming months to a more open position.
Learn about ways to encourage cognitive development by clicking here.
0-3 MONTH MOTOR SKILLS INCLUDE:
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 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 information on how to encourage motor skill development.
0-3 MONTHS SOCIAL SKILLS INCLUDE:
Although your little one’s vision will be pretty fuzzy at the start, one of the first things they will try to do is to look at your face. You may notice your baby look at your face briefly when they are first born. As they begin to mature you will notice that quick glances turn into longer gazes. Eye contact will become more apparent as your baby goes from days old to weeks old. This is because babies see very blurred images to start with which become more clear as they get older.
Many mothers treasure that moment when they see their little one smile for the first time! It may be just be random (baby just reflexively smiled) but soon there will be meaning behind it. You will soon notice that the smile is in connection with something that makes them happy or comforts them, like the sound of your voice singing them a lullaby. Watch your baby’s cues to figure out what their preferences are so that you can know what they like and dislike.
When you are holding your baby you may notice that sometimes they feel stiffer and other times more relaxed. Pay attention to the different positions you use and how their body reacts. You want your infant to be comfortable and all babies have different positions that feel good to them. When your little one has found a nice position notice their relaxed muscle tone and how they “mold” into your arms
Click here to learn more about how to encourage social skills in your baby.
0-3 MONTHS SELF HELP SKILLS INCLUDE:
In those first days of your baby’s life eating is one of the most important skills they gain! Nursing or drinking from a bottle requires a lot of coordination for them as they need to breathe, suck, and swallow in order to take down milk or formula without issues. If nursing, make sure to get into a spot that is comfortable so that you and your baby are relaxed. Skin to skin contact is also a great way to encourage feeding and increase milk supply. When bottle feeding, make sure that you have the right flow of nipple so that formula or milk does not come out too fast or too slow so your baby can eat efficiently. If you are having difficulties with feeding seek out a lactation consultant or your pediatrician for help.
When your baby is first born they sleep a lot. They cycle into different modes of sleep in which some are lighter and some are deeper. You may notice in the lighter cycles of sleep your baby may move or change their facial expression. As your baby grows their sleep will change as well. Their sleep intervals will get longer as they settle into their sleeping,eating, and awake time routines.
BRINGING HANDS TO MOUTH
You baby is working on discovering their new favorite toy: Hands! Their little fingers provide them with oral stimulation and your baby may also use them to soothe them-self ( this is a wonderful skill to have). At the newborn stage their hands will most likely be balled up into fists most of the time. By month three you will see them begin to remain in a more open position. As they become more aware of their limbs and hands they will start to bring them up to their face to look a them and also explore them by putting their fingers in their mouth.
For ways to encourage self help skills click here.
It is so fun to watch as a new baby starts to pick up new skills and explore their world. You can keep track of the milestones your little one is hitting by downloading the free printable baby milestone tracker below. It is a great way to be prepared for well baby appointments. It is also a good spot to keep track of all the wonderful things your baby is doing so that you can add the information to your little one’s baby book once life settles down a bit!
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