Babies learn by looking, listening, touching, smelling and tasting. They go through the same stages of development, but will develop at different rates.

Here is a guide to the new skills your baby will learn in the first few months.

Baby’s movements

By 3 months your baby will:

  • smile and coo

  • watch your face, and try to respond to speech

  • hold their head up when being held

  • lift their head for a short time when lying on the floor on their tummy

  • follow gentle movement close to them

  • become quieter at the sound of your voice.

By 6 months your baby will:

  • reach out for toys

  • bring their hands together

  • hold their hands open

  • watch their hands

  • hold onto toys for short periods and take them to their mouth

  • lift their head up higher for a few moments when lying on their tummy on the floor

  • make different sounds like cooing and laughing

  • recognise familiar faces

  • become more social.

Baby’s eyesight (Te kitenga)

Your baby will now be able to focus on and follow people and objects in the room with their eyes.

By 3 months most babies will:

  • close their eyes against a bright light

  • turn towards light

  • smile at you without being touched or spoken to

  • stare at people’s faces when they are close.

Talk to your Plunket nurse, other well child health provider or doctor if your baby has a lazy eye or squint (the eye turns in or out), does not look at your face, or does not turn to look at bright objects.

By 6 months you’ll notice your baby:

  • follows slow-moving, brightly coloured objects with their eyes

  • reaches out for toys and objects, holds them firmly and looks closely at them.

Baby’s hearing (Te rongo)

You may notice that your baby:

  • listens to your voice and other sounds

  • tries to communicate by making talking sounds

  • stops moving and listens to new sounds

  • wakes or stirs to loud sounds

  • blinks or cries when there is a sudden noise.

Talk to your Plunket nurse, other well child health provider or doctor if you have any concerns about your child’s growth, eyesight or hearing.

Baby’s language and noises (Te reo)

By 3 months your baby is making cooing sounds. Your baby may enjoy listening to sounds, voices and their own cooing. You will notice cooing change to babbling. Between 4 months and 1 year, your baby will try making many different sounds.

At 4 to 5 months they may start to laugh and squeal.

Talking to them about what you’re doing, naming things, and talking about what they’re doing helps them learn about their world and learn to speak.


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