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Baby Care: Your 3 Month Old Baby

Feb 24, 2022 | 2 Minutes Read

The magic 3-month period has arrived and with it a whole new range of developmental changes for your baby. If the last few weeks have been heavy going and your baby has been more than a little unsettled, then this month could be the turning point. Expect less crying, more predictability, more of a flow and routine to each day, and generally a little more enjoyment of your baby.

Feeding at 3 months old

Your baby will be a proficient feeder at 3 months and will have become skillful at feeding efficiently. You too, will have perfected your own ability to “read” your little one and interpret what they want.

A hungry cry is different to a tired cry, which is different to a bored cry and so on.

If your baby is breastfeeding you will still find you need to be readily available both day and night, but many babies start sleeping for longer periods through the night at 3 months. Bottle fed babies often do this a little earlier than those who are breastfeeding.

Sleeping at 3 months old

They still won’t be sleeping through the night completely, but 5 to 6 hours of continuous, unbroken sleep overnight is average for a 3-month-old.

At 3 months your baby may be trying to roll over. Once they can roll, no need to roll them back, but make sure the crib is empty of anything soft or fluffy, including blankets. Continue to always position them on their back for sleep when putting them down. Once a baby is trying to roll, make sure to stop swaddling them. Swaddling—especially with their arms restrained—can become a safety hazard once they can roll and should no longer be used. Use blanket sleepers or sleep sacks instead that have their arms completely free.

Behavior at 3 months old

There is lotsof cooing and squeals of delight at 3 months: you’ll certainly know you have a baby in the house. Your baby will be practicing their vocal skills and you will hear the distinct pitch and tone of their little voice changing as they grow.

Sometimes you may be unsure if your baby is protesting or just testing out their lungs! Make some silly sounds back, play peek a boo games and blow raspberries on your baby’s belly. Giving them positive feedback will help to reassure them that the noises they are making are not anything to fear and are, in fact, a good thing.

Developmental milestones at 3 months old

There will be lots of mouthing, chewing, drooling, sucking, and chomping from your baby now. This is the age when they really learn how good it feels to put something into their mouth and have a good gnaw. Luckily, most babies are still too young at 3 months to have teeth. You’ll find those gums can still generate quite a bit of force.

Your baby will spend lots of time gazing at their hands and feet and focusing on their favorite toys. Give them lots of opportunities each day for tummy time and include some diaper-free time as well. This is the time when they will learn how to hold their own head up and develop the lifelong skill of head control. If your baby likes to be carried in a sling, try facing them outwards now so they can gain a new outlook on the world.

Growth at 3 months old

Your baby will be visibly bigger, rounder, and longer at 3 months of age. Their newborn clothing has probably been relegated to the back of the closet and you’ve needed to dress them in a larger size. If it's summertime, you might find that just a onesie and diaper is sufficient.

Make a point of using those “good” clothes that you have for them. Saving them up for special occasions won’t get much use and you’ll regret not dressing your baby in them when they’ve grown too big.

Staying safe at 3 months old

Your baby will think they are very clever now when they can pick up objects and direct them straight into their mouth. This means there are potential dangers everywhere, so you will need to search their environment and try to minimize any potential risks.

It will be years before your child is able to make their own decisions about what is safe and what isn’t. Until then, you will need to be their eyes and ears when it comes to preventing harm. Make sure your baby is properly secured in their car seat every time you go out.

Play and interaction at 3 months old

You are your baby’s favorite toy and earliest teacher! Even at 3 months, babies are learning about the world and how they fit into it. Try to be positive and light-hearted when you play with your baby and allow yourself to be absorbed into the little games you create. Aim to be in the moment and not think about all the things you could be doing, and which need to be done.

Encourage your partner to play with the baby as well. Studies have shown that mothers and fathers play and interact differently with their children. Use your baby’s responses as a guide to let you know when they’ve had enough play and want to rest. At 3 months their focus and attention span are still relatively short, so when it’s clear they need a break, don’t take it personally.

What about mom?

Enjoy the opportunity to sit and relax during your baby’s feeding times. If you are bottle feeding, don’t prop your baby’s bottle or encourage them to feed themselves. It’s important to cuddle and hold your baby close during their feeds. These special times will help create more of an emotional bond between you and your baby.

Look for a healthy balance each day and try to avoid seeing free time as an opportunity to get through a list of tasks. Avoid overscheduling yourself as well. This is a time for families to focus on each other, building relationships, and having some fun every day.

Don’t overlook your own health needs right now. It may be easier just to snack on junk food during the day, but this won’t help you to feel energized or your appetite satisfied. Start the day with a bowl of quality cereal in milk and add fruit. This is an ideal breakfast of high-quality complex carbohydrates which will fuel your body throughout the morning.

If you are having trouble getting out to shop, consider shopping online, going when your partner is home to care for the baby, or asking them or a friend to do some shopping for you.

Your emotions
The chance to sleep more and catch up on some rest could mean you’re feeling a bit more like your old self. If your baby is still waking up several times at night to feed, and there is little structure to their day, this could be a demanding time.

If you feel you aren’t enjoying your baby, feel depressed, exhausted, or are having difficulty getting through each day, it is important you speak with your healthcare provider as you might have postpartum depression. Your partner, a trusted friend, family member, or other new parent could be a great source of support over this time.

Self-care
Aim to go for a walk each day and get out of the house. Many women develop cabin fever when stuck at home for days on end. It is so important that you don’t isolate yourself from others at this time. It may often be easier just to stay home but for your own sake make a point of having some contact with other people and the outside world each day.

If you’re carrying some extra baby weight, don’t be in too much of a hurry to shed it. Nature has designed pregnancy as a time to store fat to act as an energy reserve for lactation. Some women return to their pre-pregnancy weight quickly, others take up to a year, and some never return to the way they were pre-baby. Don’t beat yourself up about this. You have made a baby and your post-baby body is nothing to be ashamed of.

However, if you are anxious to lose weight sensibly, avoid skipping meals or going on a severely restrictive diet. Speak with a dietician who can help you develop a sensible eating and exercise plan.

Your sleep needs
It’s still an ideal time to sneak in an afternoon nap if you can. Avoid feeling guilty – having a daytime nap is a fact of life in the early months of parenting. If you have a toddler, aim to synchronize the baby and toddler’s nap times. Although this can be a challenge, it is worth striving for.

Your relationships
If you haven’t searched for a local mother’s groups or playgroups yet, see what you can find. Face-to-face contact with other parents is very rewarding. If groups aren’t your thing, consider a baby massage class, a post-pregnancy exercise or yoga class, or just getting together with other friends who’ve had babies. Investigate online parenting chat forums as they can be a wonderful support network.

Don’t isolate yourself or expect your baby to satisfy all your needs. If you feel yourself being cut off from the outside world, find a little time to read the news, listen to the news, or listen to podcasts. Just listening to other adult voices can help with feelings of isolation and loneliness.

The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.