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Movement, Coordination, and Your 1- to 3-Month-Old

The reflexes babies had just after birth start to disappear now as they gain more control over their movements and start to interact with caregivers and world around them.

What Can My Baby Do?

Newborns struggle to lift their heads. But as neck and upper body strength improve, they'll be able to lift their heads while on their bellies and eventually prop themselves up on their arms. Once there, they’ll hold their heads up and look around.

You also may notice your baby stretching and kicking the legs. This movement strengthens leg muscles, preparing your baby to roll over, which usually happens by 6 months of age. But be careful: Even very young babies can roll over on occasion, so it's important to never leave a baby unattended on a changing table, bed, or other high surface.

Infants grasp reflexively from birth, but during the first 3 months of life they'll begin to open and shut their hands and start moving their hands to their mouths. Your baby may be able to hold a rattle or a toy that is placed in the hand — and drop it when no longer interested in it.

Vision also starts to improve as your little one develops the ability to follow a moving object with their eyes. Then watch as your baby tries to use their arms to swing at toys.

How Can I Encourage My Baby?

Infants need to practice their skills. While babies should never sleep on their stomachs, give your child supervised tummy time during waking hours. This lets your little one practice lifting their head and strengthening the neck, arm, and shoulder muscles.

Your baby may get fussy and frustrated in this position, so keep the first tummy time sessions brief and gradually lengthen them. Always stay with your baby during tummy time.

Encourage hand–eye coordination by letting your baby reach for favorite toys while sitting on your lap or by placing them under an infant gym to bat at toys.

When Should I Call the Doctor?

Normal child development tends to follow a certain pattern. The skills that babies develop early serve as building blocks for future skills. Still, the time it takes to develop these skills can vary widely among babies.

Let your doctor know if by your baby isn't doing the following:

By 2 months:

  • hold their head up while lying on the tummy
  • open their hands

By 4 months:

  • grasp or hold objects put in their hands
  • keep their head steady while being held
  • lift the head and pushing up onto elbows/forearms during tummy time

Not reaching individual milestones doesn't always mean there is a problem. But talk to your doctor if you have questions or concerns about your baby's development.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date Reviewed: May 17, 2022

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