A lot happens in the first three years of life! No matter how many times we see children grow up (as kids tend to do!), the speed at which babies develop during the first three years never ceases to amaze us. Here are a few things that your baby is learning before they turn three:
1 – 3 Months
At one month, babies can only focus between 8 and 12 inches away, just perfect for admiring your face. They are attracted to patterns and may turn toward familiar sounds, like your voice.
Babies, when on their stomach, can lift their heads’ and turn slightly, but will need support when they are upright. Motor function is still developing so they can move their arms’ just enough to get their hands to their mouth.
By three months, hand and eye coordination has improved. Babies will study faces more keenly and even recognize you across the room. They will no longer need you to support their head and have gained enough strength to lift themselves up. With better control of their hands they will begin to explore more, moving objects around and, of course, putting everything in their mouth.
4 – 7 Months
Between months four and seven hearing and sight continue to improve dramatically. Babies will now see in full color and can focus much farther away. They will also track objects more closely as they move. Babies will also begin to be responsive to tone of voice. This means they will turn toward you when you call their name and listen to warnings when you say, “no.”
This means they are able to interact with others more. Laughing, smiling, and even having conversations, though not in any language we understand. They will also interact more with their environment, rolling around, sitting and standing, and grabbing objects.
8 – 12 Months
Now that your baby is becoming more independent, they will continue to hone their newfound skills. Crawling around, grabbing anything they can reach, and maybe even taking their first wobbly steps before plopping onto the ground.
Their unique language will start to sound more like real conversations and may even include a few words like “mama.” They will continue to study how you speak and pick up words from you. Until they can form phrases they will use gestures to express what they need.
By this point their hands are very nimble and they are learning how to use containers, putting objects in and taking them back out. They have learned to use their index finger and thumb to grasp things. Babies will continue to emulate you and everything you do from talking on the phone to eating and drinking. They may become very outgoing around you, but seem shy or withdrawn around strangers. At this age it is very normal to experience some separation anxiety.
13 – 24 Months
Your baby is now a toddler and growing more and more confident. Those few wobbly steps have turned into walking. With this comes a new sense of independence. From climbing up and down the stairs, getting their clothes on, or maybe even learning to use the toilet, your toddler will want to explore and do everything themself.
Their language skills are also improving. Starting with a few words here and there, by they time they are two, they will be using full phrases and sentences. Toddlers will continue to learn new words and phrases from books and hearing conversations.
As your toddler grows they will become increasingly comfortable with others and spending time away from mom and dad. Separation anxiety usually hits its peak around 18 months.
25 – 36 Months
Your preschooler is growing, learning and now imagining. Pretending and make-believe is a huge milestone of this age. Imaginary monsters lurk around every corner. Cardboard boxes turn into rocket ships to explore new worlds. Though it can sometimes be hard to sift through what is imagination and what is reality, this is an important step in development.
They will also continue to improve their social and physical skills. Vocabulary has exponentially increased and they are easier to understand by strangers. Preschoolers are running, jumping, kicking and even drawing and doing simple puzzles. They will also begin to establish friendships and learn to interact appropriately with others. There are sure to be frustrations and tantrums, but there will also be affection and empathy to their new friends.
Congratulations! You now have a three-year-old. As always, every child is different and their timeline for reaching certain milestones will vary. Ask your pediatrician if you have concerns about your child’s development.