Month 03 Cognitive Development

Your baby is on the verge of a scientific breakthrough. After many experiments, he’s starting to realize that his actions have consequences. When he hits his mobile, it moves. When he lets go of his rattle, it falls. And when he cries, mom comforts him. He’s learning that life isn’t quite as random as it seemed. More important, he’s learning that he has some control over his world.

He’s especially interested in convincing you to do what he wants. As this month goes by, he’ll fine-tune different cries for different occasions. If you aren’t immediately on the spot when he tries out his “pick me up right now” cry, he’ll get even louder and more desperate. But when he does his “I could use a little something to eat” cry, you don’t need to feel frantic. After a few sobs, he may pause and wait for your next move. He’s learned that he can trust you to be there soon enough.

Communication needs to flow both ways. Talk to him often with short, simple sentences. He can’t understand much of what you say, but he’s learning. Besides, he loves the sound of your voice.

Now that his vision is improving, his world is coming into focus, and his brain is busy processing new images. He’ll especially enjoy looking at pictures and objects with strong colors or black-and-white patterns. Circular patterns such as spirals and bull’s eyes will also catch his eye. He’ll get bored looking at the same things over and over, so you may want to rotate the pictures next to his crib or the books at bedtime.

Reading is a great way to give his eyes and brain a workout. Hold the book about eight inches away from his face and point out interesting pictures. If you put lots of enthusiasm and excitement in your voice, he’ll follow your lead. Story time will be one of his (and your) favorite times of day for years to come.

He’s also starting to use his sense of touch to explore his world. This is the month when his fists unclench and he starts grabbing at everything within reach. Let him feel running water, a smooth stone, warm sand, or a cat’s fur (with supervision, of course).

At his age, the world is full of surprises. The unexpected can be fun, but he’ll also enjoy knowing what’s coming next. If possible, try to establish a daily routine. You don’t have to do the same things every day for the same amount of time. Instead, just try to do things in a similar order every day. Play inside after breakfast, nap after lunch, read a story before bed. Try to keep your schedule flexible, though. New parents can be too intent on keeping to routine, to the detriment of themselves and their babies. Pay attention to what happens when the routine varies and let your baby’s reaction be your guide.

Here he is, not even 3-months-old, and he can already predict the future. He knows when to expect a story, and he knows how you’ll respond to his cries. As the months go by, his power of prediction will only get stronger. In a few months, he’ll be able to picture your reaction long before that bowl of spaghetti hits the floor.


Sears, William and Martha. The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby. From Birth to Age Two. 2003. Little, Brown and Co.

American Academy of Pediatrics. Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age Five. 2009. Bantam Books.

University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. Baby Bouncer. Third month: Older children. September 2000.

University of Florida, Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences. How I grow: Months three and four. August 2003.

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