From cooing to smiling, your baby's making strides. While each new-born advances at their own pace, here are some ways to help your baby reach those infant development milestones.

New-born milestones: Cognitive development

Milestone: Vision

Your baby is near-sighted at birth but loves to look at objects close by. Why: Your baby is very near-sighted at birth, so they can focus best on objects that are in close proximity. And because simple patterns are easiest to see, they find them most interesting and will look at them longer. Visual stimulation will help improve their developing eyesight. Patterns are easiest to see and most interesting to look at.

How you can help:

  • Give your new-born something interesting to focus on. Hang a toy from the crib with simple patterns or sharp contrasts like black and white over the crib. You can also choose toys with the same look. Your baby will enjoy seeing these patterns around 3 months old.

Milestone: Tracking

Following objects with their eyes helps your new-born develop visual coordination and depth perception. When an object crosses the midline of their face, the connection between the left and right hemispheres of their brain is stimulated. This development allows your baby's brain to process and relay information in a coordinated way.

How you can help:

  • • Hold a toy about 8–12 inches from your baby's face. Wait for them to focus on it, then slowly move it from one side to the other. This helps their eyes as they begin to track the toy's movement. Eventually, they'll bat at the object as it passes by, aiding in hand-eye coordination.

New-born milestones: Motor skills

Milestone: Grasping

Initially, the grasp reflex causes your new-born to hold tight automatically. By the third or fourth month, this grasp reflex usually disappears, and their hands become half-open as they practice opening and closing.

How you can help:

  • Give your baby things to hold to help them develop better control. If you place a small toy in your baby’s clenched fist, they’ll eventually shake it themselves. This happens with practice by 3 or 4 months old.

Milestone: Holding their own head

Your baby will begin lifting their head to look around, which strengthens their neck muscles.

How you can help:

  • With playtime on their stomach or tummy time, your baby will get to the point where they can raise up on their forearms and look around while turning their head.

New-born milestones: Communication

Milestone: Cooing

Babies are born preferring their mother’s voice in particular—which can feel like quite the compliment. From simple vocabulary words to complex grammar, they learn about language by hearing you talk. Exposing them to all kinds of talking helps promote language development.

How you can help:

  • Talk to your baby in “parent-ese,” the higher-pitched, sing-song voice that parents use with babies. This is a simple way to connect. Reading, even though your baby may not understand the words of the story, also helps. As your baby hears your voice in a variety of situations, they’ll begin to use cooing and simple babbling to express emotion.

New-born milestones: Social skills

Milestone: Smiling

Your baby’s first intentional social smile happens naturally around 6 weeks old. Smiling back helps your baby get a feel for back-and-forth interaction. Smiling gives them an important way to connect with you other than by crying for your attention.

How you can help:

  • This one will come pretty naturally. By responding to your infant with a big smile when you notice them watching you, you give them the opportunity to respond to you. Usually, with a smile back.

  • Now that you know what infant development milestones to expect, bonding with your 3-month-old can be even more rewarding. Every baby reaches milestones at their own pace, however here are some encouraging next steps to look for in the coming months.


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