Many believe the end of the third month is a milestone for both parents and their baby. By now, your baby may have developed a routine for sleep, feeding, and play. She is also now very clear about her cues, and you will probably find yourself telling people all about your baby’s particular habits, likes, and dislikes.
You may notice Baby holding up her head steadily when upright. When she’s on her tummy, she may even hold herself up at 45 degrees. Try holding her upright on her feet. Does she bear some weight? While you are playing, put your baby in different positions—supporting her while sitting, standing against your chest, on her back under a dangly set of toys and on her tummy. All of these fun baby activities help her gain muscle strength.
Has your baby discovered her hands? They move, can be easily seen, have funny little fingers, and fit in her mouth. Baby will begin to play with these new “toys” by moving them, wiggling her fingers, sucking on them, and watching them intently.
Bringing both hands to her midline and clasping is another discovery. Soon, Baby will realize that her hands can be used as tools. She will begin touching interesting objects and holidng objects, like a baby rattle, in her hands. She may even notice that she can make noise when she moves her rattle. This is the beginning of Baby’s understanding of cause and effect.
For a real treat, prop Baby in front of a mirror. Some babies gaze at their reflection intently, while others squeal and laugh. Shatterproof mirrors make wonderful toys for babies. Support this play by talking about what she sees: her nose, head, and eyes. She will love the attention and will surely smile back at the face in front of her.
Whether you’re returning to work or simply needing support, you may begin seeking childcare at this point. This may feel like one of the scariest decisions you face as a parent. Give yourself plenty of time to research your options, interview candidates, check references and slowly transition Baby (and yourself). Remember you are not alone. (Start your search with this handy childcare checklist.
The Back-to-Work Transition
Clear communication with your childcare provider is very important. You are the expert when it comes to your baby. Maintaining a predictable schedule is especially important for a baby in childcare. When Baby knows what happens next, she feels secure and safe. This security gives her the confidence to explore her world.
Write down what you know about your baby’s schedule, including sleeping and feeding patterns. Explain these predictable parts of the baby’s day so that the sitter or nanny can continue the routine. Some questions to ask yourself:
- Does Baby like a certain lullaby before sleep?
- Does she only drink breast milk or a particular formula?
- Does she like to be held a certain way?
- Does she need to be burped right after she eats?
Some babies transition into childcare easily while others take longer. Sometimes it is harder for parents to adjust than their children. It’s hard to leave your baby, but try to remember that she can feel your stress.
Goodbyes are very important, but try to keep them simple. Explain to Baby that you are leaving, that the provider will care for her, and that you will come back (unless Daddy or someone else is picking her up). Even if your baby is playing, make sure to say goodbye. She may seem upset when you leave, but she will probably recover quickly.
At this age, babies start to recognize people and special objects. Some babies have a specific blanket or toy they regard as a lovey. If so, bring your child’s lovey to childcare for her to hold when she needs comforting. You can also leave a photograph of your family for Baby to hold.
Childcare that provides responsive and loving care offers Baby an opportunity to explore and make new relationships with adults and other children. It can be an enriching and enjoyable experience. Although Baby is making new relationships, her relationship with you can never be replaced.
More Development Help
As you’re considering your child’s development, keep in mind that all babies are unique. Whether your baby reaches milestones early or late, she has her own developmental path to follow. The dividing lines between these months are very fuzzy. If you have any concerns or questions about your baby’s development, please check with her healthcare provider.
- Use our Development Tracker to check off Baby’s 0-3 month milestones.
- Stay organized with our new-parent To-Do List.
- What’s the most common medical concern for babies this age? Check it out!
Now…Let’s Take a Closer Look at Each Week
- Week 9: Cooing and Parentese
- Week 10: The Mystery of Colic
- Week 11: Raising a Bilingual Child
- Week 12: Correlating Dads and Diapers
- Week 13: The Myth of Spoiling Baby