The Third Month: Older Children

by Don Bower

Baby's Development

Baby's reflexes continue to develop this month as he learns the swallowing reflex. This reflex is necessary for him to learn to eat solid foods later on. His startle reflex may become less obvious.

Expect Your Baby to:

  • Kick vigorously
  • Hold his head up alone for a few seconds
  • Turn from side to back
  • Sleep through the night (maybe)
  • Weigh about 13 pounds
  • Hold a toy if it's placed in his hand (for a short time)
  • Smile, laugh and squeal

Remember that all babies develop in a similar sequence but at a different pace. Your baby's permanent eye color begins to form this month. His eyesight is also greatly improved. He will study your face as you feed him and recognize the breast or bottle before it is given to him. (Feeding is a very important part of his day!) He still enjoys bright colors and pays more attention to different stimuli. Mobiles or dangling objects help him to coordinate hand and eye movement.

Your baby will begin to vocalize more. During this month (or soon thereafter), he will begin to say "na," "ga," "ha," and "ya." He will soon add the vowels a, o and e to his vocabulary. Has your baby discovered his hands yet? He will soon! He will stare at his hands and grasp them together. He will put them in his mouth and suck on them. Your baby does not know what he can cause and what happens independent of himself. He is just learning that he controls his hands.

Many babies begin sleeping through the night more often at about this age. If your baby has shared your room, this is a good time to move him to his own room (or one shared with a sibling) to encourage his independence and to regain some privacy for you.

Parenting Tips

Older Children

If you have an older child, remember: Sharing parents with a newcomer can be tough. Feeling neglected is no fun, and your older children may revert to some babyish behavior for a short time. An older child will feel much better if you allow him to hold and hug the baby, help to dry the baby after his bath, or to do other tasks that let him know the baby is his brother or sister, as well as your baby. If possible, arrange a special time for just you and each older child. It will help eliminate jealousy. Older children may want to help more than their abilities safely allow. Maybe a new doll of their own would help them become more involved.

Baby's Temperament

Your baby likes to be around other people; move him with you as you move through the household. Singing, talking and dancing with him makes your baby feel happy and secure. He will smile and babble a great deal, so be sure to reward this positive behavior with affection, praise and encouragement. Babies also like time alone. They may occasionally turn away or ignore you if they don't want attention just now.

Most babies (and parents!) enjoy having a routine and will be less irritable when they know what to expect. Having a certain order to a baby's day can continue for the first few years and may be the only way that parents find adult time. Specific times for activities are not as important as repeating the general order of activities.

Buy Lines: Playpens

Some parents love the convenience of using a playpen as a confined place for their baby to play. Other parents think playpens prevent natural exploration and are too restrictive. If you decide to use a playpen, consider these issues:

  • Drop-side playpens can pose a serious suffocation hazard if used incorrectly.
  • Make sure the mesh netting on the playpen sides has very small openings -- smaller than the tiny buttons on baby's clothing.
  • As your baby learns to stand and climb, remove any toys or cushions that could be used for climbing out.
  • Because babies often chew on the upper rail, make sure its covering has no tears.
  • Limit baby's time in a playpen to no more than 30 to 60 minutes per day in order to encourage his movement and exploring.

Baby's Food

Your baby needs a source of iron. Two ways to achieve this are: