1-3 Month Milestones


developmental milestones 1-3 months

(reading time ~9 1/2 minutes) 

This article will delve into 1-3 month milestones for babies. You may also wish to check out 4-6 month milestones, 7-9 month milestones, and 10-12 month milestones. 

Milestones are meant to be general guidelines. They are variable and flexible. No two individuals, and so no two babies are the same. Some will hit milestones a little earlier and some a little later. Very likely, your baby may be hitting certain milestones a little earlier than usual and some a little later. 

When To Speak With Your Pediatrician 

However, milestones give a general indication of what to expect and an idea if there's a problem you want to speak with your pediatrician about. My philosophy is "when in doubt, talk it out." It is better to come to your pediatrician earlier with concerns in case there are issues you can be working on.

For instance, many physical and cognitive milestones are linked to having enough tummy time. If you are having milestone challenges related to this, it's certainly something you can take action on.

Another example is talking a great deal with your child and repeating the sounds he makes, which are essential factors that promote more give-and-take "conversation" if you're concerned with development in this area.

The important thing is if you have any concerns, bring them to the attention of your pediatrician early on. I'll be listing some instances when you should be doing that anyway.

Says pediatric occupational therapist Rachel Coley, "I encourage parents to discuss all developmental concerns with their pediatrician, but generally I lean toward the proactive approach of early intervention if there is an area of development with multiple lagging milestones – or there isn't progress toward a major milestone by the end of the expected age range."

I will note when there is a range of months; you might expect a developmental milestone to occur. Also, understand that milestones are ranges and not averages.

For instance, in most cases, a baby will start walking between the ages of 9 to 18 months, but on average most babies start walking between 13-15 months. So, it may not be helpful to worry if your child isn't walking by nine months, while there are still three months remaining for her to be an earlier-than-average walker.

And an important note for parents who have had premature babies. Preemies usually reach their milestones according to their due date rather than birth date.

So, for instance, if your baby was born ten weeks early, its development will generally match that of a baby born ten weeks later. Incidentally, most premature babies will "catch up" to babies born full-term by the time the preemies are two years old.

And so here in user-friendly bullet points are the major developmental milestones 1-3 months. We'll go through each month, one at a time. 

1-3 month milestones

1-3 Month Milestones, Month 1

Cognitive Development Milestones, 1 Month 

  • Begins responding to voices by turning his head or moving his eyes and listening on and off to what is said (milestone ranges from 0-3 months) 
  • He quiets down and becomes calm upon being picked up His eyes wander and occasionally cross 
  • He prefers the human face as his favorite thing to look at 
  • Although he can see some color, he can better distinguish black and white pictures and high-contrast images. He can focus best from 8-12" away. So he will enjoy a mobile placed 8-12" away with high-contrast images. Or, of course, your smiling face. 
  • Reacts to sounds, especially loud noises, which startle the baby. He can recognize lower volume sounds as well. 
  • He prefers soft to rough sensations and gentle sounds more than loud ones 
  • Can concentrate on listening to a voice for 30 seconds (milestone ranges from 1-3 months) 

Motor Development Milestones, 1 Month 

  • Can lift her head and hold it up very briefly. May be able to turn her head side to side during tummy time. 
  • Keeps her hands clenched in tight fists 
  • Will grip your fingers as a reflex when you stroke her palms 
  • Will turn towards your hand when you rub a corner of her mouth 
  • Likes the touch of soft fabrics, blankets, and toys. (Of course, infants should sleep without a blanket to help prevent SIDS.) 
  • Thrusts her arms in jerky, quivering motions 

Communication And Language Development Milestones, 1 Month 

  • Can cry for short periods 
  • Cries when hungry, uncomfortable, or in pain 
  • Shows different facial expressions
  • May begin making sucking sounds 
  • Enjoys soft, soothing music 
  • Makes small, contented sounds when he's feeling good 
  • May recognize the sound of your voice 
  • Social And Emotional Milestones, 1 Month

  • Responds positively to a lot of physical contact 
  • Responds well to soft-sounding toys 
  • Looks at your face periodically. Makes brief eye contact. Enjoys momentarily looking at you while you chat. Likes looking into your eyes sometimes. 
  • May smile as a reflex, for instance, when squeezing to go to the bathroom 
  • Shows he's upset by fussing, screaming, and crying 
  • Recognizes your smell. Prefers and enjoys sweet smells. 
  • Can recognize the smell of his mother's breastmilk 
  • Dislikes bitter or acidic smells 
  • Dislikes being handled abruptly or roughly 

When To Check With Your Pediatrician, Month 1 

It is recommended that you check with your pediatrician if your child:

1. Is feeding very slowly or has difficulty sucking

2. Begins to sweat or turn blue when feeding

3. Projectile vomits during most feedings

4. Does not react to loud sounds

5. Does not react by blinking at bright lights

6. Makes repetitive movements that continue after being touched or held.

7. Cannot focus his eyes on a nearby object or follow it when it moves.

8. Moves his arms and legs very little

9. Has overly loose or stiff limbs

10. Has a lower jaw that constantly trembles

1-3 Month Milestones, Month 2 

developmental milestones 1-3 months

Cognitive Development Milestones, 2 Months 

  • Can track an object 
  • Takes an interest in visually exploring her environment 
  • Loves to watch things, such as a moving mobile above her crib 
  • Shows anticipation when something exciting is going to happen, such as feeding or being picked up 
  • Turns her head toward sounds 
  • Can concentrate on listening to a voice for 30 seconds (milestone ranges from 1-3 months) 
  • Carefully watches the eyes or mouth of a speaking person. Watches you closely as you move. 
  • May focus on a toy for several seconds 
  • Enjoys looking at more complex patterns and colors 
  • Begins to recognize people who are further away 
  • Starts responding in some fashion to voices
  •  Can follow things with her eyes 

Motor Development Milestones, 2 Months 

  • He is getting stronger. He can push up during tummy time, lift his shoulders and hold his head up. Will also move his head from side to side from this position. Can move both arms and legs during tummy time. 
  • Can hold his head up while seated. Keeps his head parallel to his body when being lifted horizontally. (Of course, continue to support his neck). 
  • Extends both legs fully 
  • His legs are straightening out and becoming stronger. Kicks his legs alternatingly. 
  • Moves both arms during tummy time. 
  • From lying on his side, he can roll onto his back 
  • While on his back, can bring his hands to the middle of his body 
  • Focuses and stares at someone or something for a few seconds or more 
  • Lifts his head for a brief time during tummy time (milestone ranges from 0-2 months) 
  • Starts swiping at objects and tries to hold onto small objects 
  • Opens hands briefly, holds open his hands, and grasps an object, though he doesn't know how to let it go 
  • May clasp his hands together 
  • Begins to make smoother movements with his legs and arms. Moves them in more circular motions. 
  • Can move both of his arms and both of his legs equally well 
  • Brings his hands to his mouth 
  • May begin to teethe, although this usually occurs closer to the 4-6 month milestones 
  • Probably sleeps about 15 1/2 hours per day altogether. May start sleeping for longer stints during the night. 
  • Tummy time has increased to 5-10 minutes, three or more times/day for a total of 30 minutes 

Communication and Language Development Milestones, 2 Months 

  • Begins to make sounds besides crying 
  • Begins making sounds even when she is not moving 
  • Starts squealing 
  • Starts to laugh (milestone ranges from 2-4 months) 
  • Makes cooing sounds and other noises 
  • May seem to start talking back to you with sounds like "a" or "o" 
  • When overstimulated, arches her back and yawns 
  • Cries to communicate her needs. For instance, becomes fussy when an activity goes on too long, indicating boredom. 

Social And Emotional Milestones, 2 Months 

Starts to smile at people purposely (milestone ranges from 2-4 months) 

  • He may begin to smile when you talk or smile at him 
  • Recognizes his caregivers' faces (milestone ranges from 2-3 months) 
  • Seems happy to see you when you come near
  • Makes eye contact regularly. Loves looking at faces. 
  • Calms down when picked up or spoken to 
  • Relaxes his body and allows himself to be cuddled 
  • Calms or self-soothes himself momentarily by sucking on his hands 
  • Expands his repertoire of sounds with gurgles, ahs, coos and ohs 
  • May communicate with different kinds of cries for different needs. 

Developmental Milestones 1-3 Months 

1-3 month baby milestones

Cognitive Development Milestones, 3 Months 

  • Listens to a voice for at least 30 seconds (milestone ranges from 1 to 3 months)
  • Turns her head to try to find a sound with her eyes (milestone ranges from 3 to 7 months) 
  • Shows clear excitement when something is to happen, such as feeding or being picked up (milestone ranges from 1 to 4 months) 
  • Inspects her hands intentionally 
  • Begins to repeat an activity she's just learned 

May begin to recognize images on television, though most experts recommend against introducing digital screens at this young an age

Baby generally sleeps 15 hours per day; 5 hours of daytime sleep and 10 hours of nighttime sleep, all split between sessions

Motor Development Milestones, 3 Months 

  • Is capable of rotating and extending his head 
  • Begins using his hands extensively to get what he wants. Starts to use his hands and eyes in coordination. 
  • May start to play with rattle toys or musical toys 
  • Loves to play under a baby gym and kick and swat at the dangling toys 
  • Reaches his arm toward a toy with or without grasping it. Takes swipes, trying to grab it. 
  • When baby is held upright, will help support himself with his feet on the floor or on your lap 
  • May start sitting up with support help (milestone ranges from months 3-5) 
  • Opens and closes his hands. Now has his hands open about half the time. 
  • From a tummy time position, he starts to roll over from his belly to his back (milestone ranges from 3-5 months) 
  • Raises his head and chest from a tummy time position. Supports his upper body using his arms while lying on his stomach. 
  • Easily follows moving objects with his eyes
  • When on his stomach or back, will stretch and kick his legs vigorously 
  • Opens and shuts hands. Can bring hands to mouth. 

Communication and Language Development Milestones, 3 Months 

  • Continues to develop her own noises to respond to people and other sound stimulation 
  • Begins to truly laugh (milestone ranges from 1-4 months) 
  • Begins to cry in a more rhythmic way 

Social And Emotional Milestones, 3 Months 

  • Can distinguish mom and dad's faces from one another 
  • Smiles when she hears the sound of your voice 
  • Starts mimicking sounds, expressions, and movements. She may be at the rudiments of babbling, although babbling is a 4-month milestone. Begins to imitate some sounds. 
  • Enjoys playing with others 
  • May cry when playing stops 
  • Starts to cry less often for no particular reason 
  • Starts to intentionally smile (milestone ranges from 2 to 4 months) 
  • Begins to distinguish strangers from familiar faces (milestone ranges from 3-6 months) 
  • May start to use different cries for different needs, such as hunger, boredom, pain, and diaper changes 
  • Becomes more demonstrative and expressive with her body and face 

It is recommended to call your pediatrician if your baby: 

1. Doesn't visually follow moving objects

2. Doesn't react to loud noises

3. Doesn't smile when he hears your voice or doesn't smile socially at all

4. Cannot grasp or hold onto objects

5. Doesn't reach for or grasp toys by 3 to 4 months

6. Eyes looked crossed a good deal of the time

7. Doesn't babble, "oo," "ahs," or "ohs" at all

8. Pays no attention to new faces

9. Doesn't push down with his feet when held in an upright position on a flat surface

10. He still cannot support his head very well at three months

11. Has trouble moving either of his eyes in all directions

12. Pays no attention to new faces or seems very frightened by them

13. Is quite frightened by new surroundings 

So there you have it, 1-3 month milestones. I hope you've enjoyed this article; and happy parenting!

About the author 

Dan Sperling

I'm the proud father of two great children. They are grown up now, and although I would have preferred to be a stay-at-home dad, I had to work. Luckily, I could work out of my home so I was around a lot. I ran a video production company, had a couple of great guys working with me and it allowed me to be around the children a lot. I was the "fun guy" for my kids and fathering was something I just took to.
When my daughter became pregnant, I was glad to see my son-in-law was doing everything right--or as good as it gets--we're always winging it, right? It got me thinking that so many dads would like to be more emotionally involved and knowledgeable when it comes to their wives' pregnancy and the first year of their children's lives.

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