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Magic of Everyday Moments - Chart on everyday ways to learn (2-4 months)

Based on content from ZERO TO THREE®: National Center for Infants, Toddler and Families.

For every age range, there are important developmental milestones. Learn "What to expect" and "What you can do" to enrich your baby's learning through everyday routines and interactions.

What to expect between 2 and 4 months

I'm a Hands-On Learner

What To Expect:
At around 3 months, when babies realize that their hands are part of their bodies and that they can control them, they delight in using them.

What You Can Do:

  • Offer your baby lots of opportunities to hold, grab, poke, and wave safe objects.
  • As soon as your baby develops control of his hands, you can expect him to move whatever he happens to be holding to his mouth. Make sure everything he holds is clean and too big to fit entirely in his mouth.

Within My Reach

What To Expect:
Although infants can grasp things you place in their hands, they don't begin to really reach for things until around 3 months, and they do it with both hands together.

What You Can Do:

  • Lay your baby on her back, and hold a brightly colored toy over her chest within arm's reach. She'll delight in reaching up for it with both hands together and bringing it to her face for closer examination.
  • Talk to your baby while she's reaching out for things. Cheer her on. Even at this age, she loves to know that you appreciate her efforts.

Big Time Babbling

What To Expect:
Between 3 and 4 months babies begin to really enjoy babbling, and there's no one they'd rather babble to than you. They'll progress from open vowels (ohs and ahs) to new sounds and combinations, with P's, M's, B's, and D's.

What You Can Do:

  • When your baby babbles to you, don't just babble back. Talk to him as though he understands every word you're saying. Long before he utters his first real word he'll understand hundreds of them as a result of these early conversations.
  • Pay special attention to the rhythm of your baby's babbles. He'll babble and then pause, waiting for you to respond. When you say something and then pause, he'll pick right up. This is how babies learn the art of conversation.

My Smile Says It All

What To Expect:
Your baby's earliest smiles (the one she does in her sleep) are reflex reactions from her early nervous system. By 2 months, however, she has a very special smile just for you, and it's a true reflection of her love for you.

What You Can Do:

  • We obviously don't have to tell you to smile back at your baby whenever she smiles at you! We can tell you that the exchange of smiles is the earliest form of play, and it sets the stage for a lifetime of loving relationships.
  • When she feels like playing, let the games begin. Blow gently on her belly, play peek-a-boo, make happy sounds and expect to see a toothless grin. If she's not in a smiling mood it may be time for a cuddle and a cozy nap.