Child development at age 0-3 months

Naturally, both a baby’s body and mind need time to adjust to their new environment after birth. In particular, the baby develops basic reflexes it needs in order to survive – such as sucking, swallowing, coughing, and grasping. Moreover, babies begin acquiring the skills necessary for exploring the outside world later on. Nutrition has to be 100% liquid; preferably breast milk with its rich composition of bioactive compounds.

Sleeping and smiling newborn baby
Baby's body development at age 0-3 months

Baby’s body

Babies’ motoric development at the age of 0-3 months is characterised by adaptation to the world outside the uterus. Reactivity is still uncoordinated, but the baby learns quickly, developing basic reflexes and movements. 
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Baby’s mind

Of course, babies’ cognitive skills are limited directly after birth. In the beginning, their main channel of communication is crying, which is accompanied by smiling and gurgling later on. It is also very typical for newborns to sleep the majority of day. 
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Sleeping newborn African-American baby
Baby's mental development at age 0-3 months
Newborn baby being breastfed
Nutrition at age 0-3 months


The supply of sufficient energy and relevant nutrients to the baby is critical for healthy growth, especially at the beginning of life. In proportion to their body weight, the energy required for a baby is generally three times higher than that of an adult. In the first months, the average energy requirement of a baby is about 400kcal per day (WHO, 2009). Breast milk offers the best nutritional option for a baby because it is rich in energy and provides a mix of different nutrients. All the nutrients in breast milk are valuable, but two specific nutrients that are particularly important in this developmental stage are long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) and vitamin D. 
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  • Baby’s body

    Generally speaking, at the age of 0-3 months, babies’ motoric development follows the pattern below:

    • Babies generally adapt to the outside world and develop the basic reflexes they need to survive, such as sucking, swallowing, coughing, and grasping, etc.
    • They keep their hands clenched in fists most of the time with no eye-hand coordination .
    • After approximately one month of age, babies should be able – when lying face down – to raise their head and look both ways.
    • Starting from the second month, babies can wrap their fingers around an object when it is placed into their hand.
    • Hands and legs can be moved in a squirming or kicking manner.
    • Babies inspect their own hands and move their hands and toys to their mouth. 
    • When lying on their back, babies are able to bring their hands together.

    (Bartolotta and Shulman, 2010; UNICEF, n.d.; University of Pittsburgh, 2015)

  • Baby’s mind

    At the age of 0-3 months, babies are able to:

    • watch a close object as well as recognise and study their hands and fingers;
    • distinguish smell and taste;
    • communicate mostly by crying and turning towards familiar voices; 
    • express feelings such as anger, excitement, or hunger;
    • laugh and make cooing or gurgling noises; and (later on)
    • respond with a smile when somebody smiles at them.

    Other common developments related to the mind include that:

    • babies sleep most of the day, but in relatively short blocks;
    • early characteristics of individual personality appear, and babies start to recognise their primary caregivers;
    • babies enjoy being held and rocked as well as bathing time;
    • they start to put things into their mouth and reach for toys making a noise;
    • babies enjoy tickling and can be calmed by a familiar voice; and
    • they are startled by loud voices and turn their head towards the voice. 

    (Bartolotta and Shulman, 2010; UNICEF, n.d.; University of Pittsburgh, 2015)


More about babies' natural growth path