The sheer volume of developmentally significant moments in the first three months is a bit overwhelming. It can be hard to know which milestones are more important to watch for than others. The tricky thing when looking at milestones at any point in your baby's development is becoming too focused on when your baby should be able to start doing something. Milestones are developmental moments that we watch for to make sure nothing is out of the ordinary. For example, infants can start laughing as early as 3-4 months old. But if your baby doesn't start laughing until she is 5-6 months old there is still nothing out of the ordinary. This milestone is only important when the normal span of time for it to occur has passed. So if your baby still hasn't laughed by 9-12 months, there might be something wrong. There are very few things that must happen in the first three months in order to be sure that your baby is developing on schedule. Five of them are listed here.
1. Turns head toward sounds.
The acknowledgement of hearing sound and expressing curiosity about where the sound came from are very important. Your baby can start to show this interest right away, or it may take a few weeks. However, if your little Sherlock is showing no interest in sudden sounds that are coming from outside their range of vision by the age of three months, there might be something seriously wrong. If your baby does not meet this milestone, it could be caused by a number things, including deafness, and neurological issues, so bring it to your pediatrician's attention right away.
2. Eyes follow your face.
This is called "tracking", and it is a social instinct that teaches your baby how to communicate. Although babies don't speak, or even learn to use sign language for several more months, they are learning to interpret your expressions, your tone of voice, and your physical cues from the first couple of weeks. If your baby isn't showing any more interest in your face than in a random toy or mobile by three months this could be indicative of a serious issue. Though the particular cause is best left for your pediatrician to sort out, it is something very important to watch for.
3. Resists when arms or legs are pulled or pushed.
The instinct to pull or push with arms and legs is essentially your baby's built-in personal trainer. Your baby has to grow new muscles and continually strengthen existing muscles constantly from the moment they are born. Her body is growing so fast, and getting heavier , so nature made sure she would be born with a need to push and pull, kick, and grab, twist and wiggle, constantly. If this instinct hasn't kicked in, or seems to be barely there, it could cause many physical development delays and result in years of physical therapy. As well as being a sign that there might be something seriously wrong. But it is easy to test, just give a little tug on your baby's hand while she is awake and alert. If she pulls away, she is fine.
4. Tries to suck on things that brush the cheeks.
This instinct normally kicks in within minutes of birth. However, it can sometimes take a bit longer. The urge to turn his head and start suckling is of course one of your little kissy-face's most basic survival instincts. It is there to help him figure out how to eat. Though you can still feed a baby who does not have this instinct, it is important to bring it to your pediatrician's attention, as it could be a sign of something more serious.
5.Grasps an object with purpose.
Now this skill does take just a bit longer to kick in. At first your baby will just swat at things or nudge them with her hand, but after a month or two, she should be able to grab something within her reach that she is looking at. Though she won't learn to let go for another month or two, learning to grab, on purpose, is something that demonstrates the normal development of curiosity, independence, and physical coordination. If this skill is late in showing up, even if the cause is not a very serious one, it could point to a particular type of challenge that your diaper-dweller will have to face. Such as the need for help with fine-motor skill development, or being encouraged to explore and ask questions, or needing extra encouragement to try new things. Of course your pediatrician will help in determining how serious the cause of missing this milestone is. And guide you in the proper direction to give your baby the help she may need.
Always remember, milestones aren't there to promote competition, it doesn't matter in the least if your baby started doing something two weeks or a month before another baby. And it doesn't matter if it takes your baby a month or two longer to master a skill like rolling over or sitting up than other babies you see of the same age. The most important thing about milestones is to be sure that your baby will have the earliest possible care for any issues that could have an effect on his development. If you have found these tips to be helpful, please forward them to any new or expecting parents you might know. And as always, your questions, comments and suggestions are always welcome. Happy parenting!