What Infants Are Learning
After learning to recognize your voice, your face, and your touch, and to associate them with comfort, your baby will start responding more to you during these months. Your baby will even give you a smile!
Babies this age spend more time awake and alert and become more curious about their parents and about objects that they see. They also start getting physically stronger and better able to coordinate movements. Encourage the learning process by talking to your little one, responding to his or her vocal expressions, and providing colorful age-appropriate toys.
You'll now see your baby's personality emerge. In the first month or two of life, newborns depend on others to initiate interaction. But by the end of the third month your baby will engage you with facial expressions, vocalizations, and gestures.
As their eyesight improves, babies become better able to distinguish between different sights and sounds. Your baby will be carefully watching your facial expressions and listening to your voice, responding to you with coos and gurgles, and around 2 months, respond to your smile with a smile. Between 3 and 4 months, most infants can squeal with delight and laugh out loud.
Babies will learn to open and shut their fists and can hold a rattle placed in their hands. They'll soon discover that they're the one that caused the rattle to make noise.
Babies also start to explore their surroundings with their hands, reaching out, swatting at, and grasping for a favorite toy. They'll also begin to notice their hands and feet, and they'll become a source of amusement. They enjoy staring at their hands, playing with their fingers, and bringing their hands or a toy to their mouth.
Encouraging Your Baby to Learn
Respond to your baby's coos and gurgling with sounds of your own so that your baby will be encouraged to keep using his or her voice for expression. Through these exchanges, your infant hears the sounds of language and learns about conversation.
Your baby's sense of touch is also getting better. Provide colorful objects of different textures, shapes, and sizes for your infant to hold and explore. This is a good age to introduce an infant gym with interesting objects that dangle for your baby to swat at. Or hold a toy just out of reach for your baby to reach for, swat, and grab hold of. But don't string up toys on cribs or other baby equipment — your baby could get tangled in them.
At times your baby will have had enough stimulation. Watch for signs that your little one might be overstimulated and ready for a break.
Other ideas for encouraging your baby to learn and play:
- Gently clap your baby's hands together or stretch arms (crossed, out wide, or overhead).
- Gently move your baby's legs as if pedaling a bicycle.
- Use a favorite toy for your baby to focus on and follow, or shake a rattle for your infant to find.
- While awake, let your baby spend some time on his or her tummy to help strengthen the neck and shoulders. Always supervise your infant during "tummy time" and be ready to help if he or she gets tired or frustrated in this position. Never put a baby to sleep on his or her stomach. Infants should sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- Make different facial expressions for your baby to imitate.
- Talk to your baby and let your baby respond.
There's a wide range of normal among babies. If you're concerned about your little one's vision or hearing, or your baby doesn't seem to be developing well in other ways, talk with your doctor.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: August 2011
© 1995-2012 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.