By three months old, your baby will have changed so much since birth you’ll be constantly amazed at his progress. And the changes keep on coming! Over the next 3 months, you will observe the disappearance of some of the primitive reflexes as he develops voluntary skills to replace them.
At 3 Months Old
At 3 months, baby will begin to recognise you from a photograph, rather than just from your tangible presence. He will smile easily and enjoy the attention that all babies attract from their adoring public. Physically, your baby is getting enough strength to begin to support his head and upper body when he is lying either on his front or back, and will enjoy kicking his feet and opening and closing his hands. Hands are a very big factor at this stage, having just been discovered. He will bring his hands in front of his face and from there into his mouth. You will see his batting at dangling objects in his eye line, maybe even hitting them sometimes. Also around this point, baby will start to reach for objects, although it may take a while to perfect this skill, and once achieved, you will notice that he can take an object in his own hand but cannot figure out how to release it. This takes a bit longer to develop. Grasp reflex fades as he refines his ability to hold things voluntarily. Plantar reflex disappears around this time too.
At 4 Months Old
By 4 months, the sucking and rooting reflexes have all but gone, replaced by voluntary ability, as has the startle reflex. Soon the tonic reflex will fade too, as voluntary reaching skills develop. Hand/eye co-ordination is now well enough developed that he will try to reach for an object that he has seen rather than just one that you have drawn his attention to. As well as his hands, he now discovers his feet, another source of fun and something else to chew on. This discovery probably coincides with being fully stretched out now rather than curled up tightly as at birth, and the ability to grab objects and bring them to his mouth. Possibly the biggest new skill at this stage is rolling over from front to back, so care must be taken never to leave him on his changing table or anywhere else he can fall from as he will not give any warning he is going to do this. By now you will already be familiar with the different crying noises he uses to communicate hunger, thirst, discomfort etc, but now he starts to vocalise. Cooing noises become part of his repertoire, albeit without any definite structure.
At 5 Months Old
At 5 months, his ability to hold small objects will be well established, as will his fondness for putting everything he can get hold of straight into his mouth, from toys to toes. He will still not be able to release objects, although he may begin to pass them from one hand to the other. Pre verbal skills are developing at a steady rate now, babbling noises will show a distinct tendency towards vowel sounds; this is because he is developing the sounds he will need to form proper words later on. When it comes to play, his favourite noise may be a raspberry, with a few bubbles thrown in for good measure!
At 6 Months Old
By 6 months, passing objects from hand to hand will be further refined. His verbal skills will have progressed to include sounds such as ‘b’ and ‘m’, he will be able to let you know very clearly when he is happy and when he is not, and he will even have started to laugh. All this and he’s only half a year old! There’s so much more to come!
If you have any concerns about your baby’s development or health in any way, please speak to your Health Visitor or GP.
The HSE have a downloadable guide to a childs development and have further information on their website