Birth to 8 Months
I Learn About What My Body Can Do
  • I have a good grip as a newborn. I will hold onto things you put in my hand. At about 3 months, I will start to reach and grasp things with both my hands.
  • I recognize the smell and voices of those caring for me the most. I can connect sounds to their source, and my favorite sound is the human voice.
  • I search for something to suck. This calms and soothes me.
  • I turn my head or close my eyes when it is too bright.
  • I will learn to hold my head up, roll, and probably crawl. I have favorite positions, but it’s good for me to spend time on my belly, back, and sitting up so I can see things from different perspectives. This also helps me learn to move in different ways. (But remember, I should always sleep on my back!)
  • In the first 2 months, I can focus best on things that are 8 to 12 inches away.
I Learn About My Feelings & Who I Am
  • By 4 months of age, if you watch closely, you can begin to see what makes me unique—my likes and dislikes, my interests, how I like to interact, how I deal with change.
  • I can show you many feelings. I smile and wiggle to show you that I like playing with you. I frown or cry when you stop playing with me. I arch my back and turn away when I need a break from playing or interacting.
  • I feel secure when you hold me and smile at me.
  • I Learn About My Feelings & Who I Am
  • I learn to comfort myself. I may suck on my fingers or hands.
  • Sometimes I startle, get frightened, or have taken in too much stimulation, and I need help to settle down.
I Learn About People, Objects, & How Things Work
  • By 6 months, I can tell the difference between people I do and don’t know. Sometimes, I may be afraid of strangers.
  • By 8 or 9 months, I might like to explore my food and even feed myself with my hands. It might get pretty messy at times, but it helps me feel confident.
  • I learn I can make things happen. I can shake a rattle and make a sound. I can kick a mobile and make it move. I can smile, and you will smile back.
  • I love to play games like peek-a-boo with you. When I want you to keep playing, I wave my arms and legs and make sounds to let you know I don’t want you to stop.
I Learn to Communicate & Relate
  • Between 3 and 4 months, I begin to really enjoy babbling to you. I’ll begin with vowel sounds (ohs and ahs) and move to new sounds and combinations, with Ps, Ms, Bs, and Ds.
  • I have different cries, facial expressions, and body movements to tell you that I am sleepy, hungry, wet, scared, uncomfortable, overwhelmed, or even bored and want to play.
  • I learn about words and the joys of language when you talk, sing, and read with me.
  • I move my arms and legs, I smile and gurgle, when I am happy and excited.
  • I will start to imitate the sounds that you make. My babbling may even start to sound like your speech. My voice might go up as if I’m asking a question. It may sound like I am saying a whole sentence.
For more information, please visit Zero to Three. Adapted from Bringing Up Baby: Three Steps to Making Good Decisions in Your Child's First Years by Claire Lerner and Amy Laura Dombro 2005.