Month 03 Social Development

Not long ago, your baby was far too bewildered to have much of a social life. It's hard to connect with people when you have no idea who they are. Now she's really starting to notice people, and she likes what she sees. She's crying less and smiling more, especially when you come into view. She might even let out a full-bellied laugh when you play with her. She's becoming more active, more engaging, and a lot more fun to be around.

She'll want to be with you, too, almost all the time. If possible, carry her in your arms or in a baby carrier as you go about your day. If you're folding laundry or doing the dishes, put her in a safe place nearby so she can keep an eye on you. Be especially careful not to have her in a carrier or backpack while you're cooking. Babies can get burned or suffer other injuries near a hot stove.

As the two of you spend time together, you'll see your baby go through a range of different moods. Her emotions are becoming more complicated, and she's learning how to express each one of them. You might see the happiness on her face before you hear her laugh. Likewise, you might notice a frown before she starts to cry. If you comfort her when you see that frown, you may be able to head off those sobs.

You can save a lot of frustration for both of you by responding quickly and consistently to her signals. Comfort her when she's upset and reward her with smiles and attention when she's happy. At this age, your baby can't get too much affection.

"Smile talking" is one of her favorite tactics for getting your attention. She'll gurgle and grin broadly at you, waiting for you to notice her. She'll also experiment with vowel sounds like "aaaaaa" and "oooooo." It may seem like she's just making noise, but she's having fun with her newfound vocal skills and loves hearing your voice in return. When she pauses, talk back to her in a pleasant voice. At this point, it doesn't matter much what you say. Your voice alone will make her feel loved.

She's paying attention to other people, too. If you have older children around, your baby will probably light up when they enter the room. She'll be friendly to other familiar people, like grandparents and caregivers, although it may take her a while to warm up. Complete strangers will have to slowly earn her trust before she gives them a smile.

Some babies are naturally more smiley and bubbly than others. But if your baby isn't smiling at people or doesn't pay attention to faces, you should notify her pediatrician.

As much as she enjoys your company, she may want some time alone, too. If she fusses or looks away during a game or a conversation, she probably needs a little break. Try laying her down in her crib or another safe place and letting her entertain herself. Even social butterflies can use some "me time."

References

Sears, William and Martha. The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby. From Birth to Age Two. 2003. Little, Brown and Co.

Nemours Foundation. Learning, Play, and Your 1- to 3-Month-Old. http://kidshealth.org/parent/pregnancy_newborn/learning/learn13m.html

American Academy of Pediatrics. Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age Five. 2009. Bantam Books.

University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. Baby Bouncer. Third month: Older children. September 2000. http://www.fcs.uga.edu/pubs/current/CHFD-E-39-03.html

University of Florida, Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences. How I grow: Months three and four. August 2003. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/FY633

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