Ironically, the real work begins after childbirth! Caring for your newborn can be overwhelming, especially if you’re a first-time mom, and it’s natural to be worried that you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do. New moms often have a million questions and concerns – about sleeping, eating, schedules, developmental milestones and more.
Thankfully, by the time your baby is 3 months old, some of these worries have faded – just like your sleep – into the distance. You’ve changed a gazillion diapers and have it down pat. You’ve bathed your little one and can do so deftly and with confidence. Eating and sleeping schedules, while not perfect, have hopefully begun to take shape and by now, you know if your child is gaining weight at the pace your pediatrician wants.
Three months old is a bit of a mile marker and one to be celebrated, maybe even with a portrait or two. Still, these little ones don’t come with instruction manuals, what are the important things you should know about caring for your 3-month old?
Sleep: Ah, sweet, lovely sleep — something that probably eluded you during that last month of pregnancy and completely left the building over the past several weeks! The great news about your child being 3 months old is that now she should be sleeping 6-7 hours each night. So YOU can get a little more rest as well. Your little one may wake up after 6 hours, need to eat and then go back to sleep for a few more hours. Overall, a 3 month old needs a total of about 15 hours of sleep, so what she does not do at nighttime, she should make up for through naps. At this age, babies should nap a few times each day, typically for about 1-1/2 – 2 hours each time. This is the age at which you can establish good sleep habits – and a schedule – so get into a routine of putting your little one down around 7 or 8 pm each night. Overall, routines are good for everyone and give your little one the care and security she needs (night time routines). One last tip – your baby may occasionally wake up at night, cry out and then drift back to sleep – all on her own! So when that happens, give your child about 30 seconds or so before you go to her.
Feeding: Your baby is gaining weight and growing. At 3 months old, she should still be completely on either formula or breastmilk. Per the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), babies this age are not yet ready for solid foods; rather, wait for that milestone until your child is around 4-6 months. A formula-fed baby is eating 6-8 times a day and should drink about 5 ounces at each feeding. While you cannot measure breastfeeding, you probably have a good feeling of when she is content and she should be eating every 2-3 hours throughout the day. Your little one doesn’t even need to drink water at 3 months as doctors say formula or breast milk gives her everything she needs right now.
The Five Senses: So at 3 months old, your baby is getting in tune with her senses! Her sight and hearing are continuing to develop, so it’s no surprise that your child perks up and turns at the sound of your voice. Music can be a huge part of a baby’s world, so introduce her to all kinds (music and your baby). Colors, especially in toys, are an excellent way to engage your child as she can see the contrasts. While you don’t need an overabundance, make sure what she has is bright and colorful. Best of all, babies are fascinated with faces at this age – yours and hers – which is why they love to stare at you and love to see themselves in mirrors. A car seat or play mat mirror is a great addition to your baby gear!
Communication Skills: This may sound a bit strange, but yes, your child’s communication skills are progressing. No longer is crying her only means to get your attention and WebMD says that most babies should not cry for much longer than an hour a day. You may want to check with your doctor or a healthcare professional if you think your little one’s crying is excessive. At 3 months, your baby can start to form vowel sounds, and you can engage her as you talk to her – about what you’re doing, about what she’s about to experience (“it’s time for you to eat lunch!”), about anything. Your baby will not only listen to your voice and watch your expressions and gestures, but start to form her own sounds and do her own gestures. In fact, it is amazing the little person your baby is becoming!
Milestones and Motor Skills: So at three months, your bobbled-head has really gained head and neck control and will not wobble that much when held. On her tummy (partially in thanks to “tummy time”) your baby can lift her head off the ground. While she won’t be able to hold herself up for a prolonged time, you’ll see her prop her head, neck and shoulders up on little bended arms. When on her back, she may kick and move her chubby legs. You want to give her the opportunity on your rug, play mat or blanket to strengthen these muscles and motor skills. Play also becomes a lot more fun as she’ll swipe at toys, try to grab them and develop her hand-eye coordination. Encourage her as she opens and shuts her hand around a toy or shuttle and try to put it in her mouth. This is not just quality time for you and your baby but a great way to help her along in her motor and communication skills. Plus, it’s fun for everyone!
Resources: If you have been reading over these categories and keeping a mental – or actual – tally of what your baby can and cannot do, you’re in great company. These are guidelines and it is very natural for a mom to worry about where her baby falls in the scheme of “normal.” Every child is different, and as we have mentioned, they don’t come with instruction manuals. So what happens when you need a checkpoint or a sounding board? Of course, you have your pediatrician who should be a great resource. However, you may not want to be “that mom,” who calls or comes in with every little thing. You also have your circle, be it neighbors, family members, moms’ groups or coworkers, who can lend advice but may not have the medical knowledge. Moms On Call, a trusted Baby Pibu partner, combines the expertise of a professional with the care and concern of a mom. Founded by two pediatric nurses (and mothers to a combined 8 children), Moms On Call (MOC) started as an Atlanta-based service, offering in-home consultations to mothers for children ages birth – 4 months. Able to answer questions, model techniques such as swaddling and share expert advice, MOC has been a go-to resource for moms in the metro-Atlanta area. Think of MOC as a Cliff’s notes on how to take care of you baby. Dr. Amy personally used MOC’s services and consulted with Laura Hunter when both her children were born. Dr. Amy used Jennifer Walker’s help and advice when her children became toddlers. With increased, real-time technology, and the fact that MOC’s happy and satisfied customers wanted to share their MOC advice, Moms On Call is now able to serve moms all over the globe.
So, Moms on Call are just another resource and partner you have on this amazing albeit sometimes confusing motherhood journey! It may be hard to believe your baby is actually three months old as those first 90 days fly by in a whirl. With each new stage of your baby’s life there comes new questions, new concerns and a plethora of new joy. As always, we are happy to be a part of that with you!
- “Baby Development: Your 3 Month Old.” WebMD.com. https://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/baby-development-3-months#1
- “Baby Month by Month.” Thebump.com. https://www.thebump.com/baby-month-by-month/3-month-old-baby
- Woodbury, Jessica. “3-Month Old Baby Physical Milestones.” Care.com. June 8, 2017. https://www.care.com/c/stories/3359/3-month-old-baby-physical-milestones/