Your baby at three months
By three months, your baby will be beginning to seriously enjoy life and be curious as to how it all works. You'll feel more like you can make a difference to her world, and less like she is a law unto herself. Some babies are born more scratchy and irritable than others – it's a personality thing – but most babies are getting easier to handle by three months.
If you pull her up to sitting, her head (which still seems far too big for her body) will lag behind her body a little but not completely. She can keep her head steadily raised when she is lying on her front but not for long – and she may then let her head fall with a sickening thud. If she supports herself on her forearms, she can move her head around quite effectively to see what's going on.
When lying on her front, she may make cute crawling movements, moving her arm and leg on the same side of her body, like one-sided swimming. Between two and four months, she will roll over from back to front (usually the one time you leave her in a precarious position). Don't leave her on the changing mat above floor level after two months – she'll be biding her time, just waiting to do her roll over.
Her hands are often closed but she will grip objects such as a rattle, wave it for a little bit and then drop it unintentionally. She's haphazard at reaching for and holding things. She'll overshoot when she reaches out to grab something. She'll lie on her back and watch her hands and fingers wave in front of her eyes as though they have nothing to do with her. She's beginning to learn that there is a world outside of her that she can swipe at, although she'll miss initially.
When she drops a toy out of sight, it is dead to her, she won't bother to look for it. Babies at this age have no idea of permanence. If they can't see it, it doesn't exist. To an extent that's how they think of you, too. Only between six and nine months will she start to look for things once they have been dropped or removed.
She is much more responsive to you (not before time) and her arms and legs will wave endearingly when you talk to her as you approach. She will stop crying if you pick her up, which is a big relief. She smiles to show how pleased she is to see you.
Between three and a half to five months, she will turn her head in the direction of your speech.
This is the time for first vowels, such as 'ah' and 'oh'. She will babble and coo when you speak to her. She will use her voice differently when she's happy to when she's not so happy: she has tone to her voice.
She knows when things look familiar. She's no longer crazy about abstract edges on objects but has moved on to an appreciation of the human face with its eyes, mouth and nose. Unless your family snapshots are fuzzy, she will recognise your face from a photograph by four months. Studies show that babies have some perception of depth, too. This is nature's way of ensuring babies are protected before they become mobile. But it's not to be trusted – watch as your baby tries to hurl herself off your bed.
She now knows what an object is and is looking for ways in which it is different. She is curious about the world.
Play gets more interesting now, with pat-a-cake and peek-a-boo. She loves tickle games and nursery rhymes and kicking and splashing in the bath. She enjoys eye contact when feeding and likes being talked to. It's worth stocking up on some toys, as she will enjoy touching them. Now is not the time to buy anything sophisticated, though: rattles and soft, differently-textured toys are what's required. The Hornby train set comes much later. (See top toys for babies under one.)
A word on reading our development calendar
Milestones of development are not carved in granite but widely variable (see our behaviour/development Talk forum). It's not uncommon to have isolated pockets of late development, such as late walkers and talkers, and much of the individual differences between the development of babies and children is genetically programmed - so try and resist the temptation to be a competitive parent.
Some babies will be slower to develop in certain areas because they were born prematurely or because they are twins (or triplets). For more information on twins, triplets et al, see our multiple births Talk forum.
A minority of babies and children do have delays in development that may need specialist help. Doctors' textbooks tell them to take a parent's concerns about their child seriously. No health professional should ever trivialise a worry that you have about your child. If you are at all concerned, go to see your GP.
We are also obviously aware that some children have special needs. You can get advice from other parents in our special needs Talk forum. We have included some site recommendations that may be useful in our webguide but the list is by no means exhaustive and we would welcome other suggestions.