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Stages of Play: Zero to Three Months Old

The fourth trimester is meant for cuddles and adjusting to a whole new reality as a parent

Stages of Play: Zero to Three Months Old

Want to know what to expect from your growing baby? These guides share general timelines for developmental milestones and how to encourage new stages of play.

Before you get started, learn how to calculate your baby's adjusted age based on their due date and birth date. Much of your baby's development is tied to time in utero, so babies born early may need time to reach full-term development.

What to Expect in the fourth trimester

Ah, those fresh baby days. It may not seem like a lot is going on with your baby’s development during the first three months, but it really is a time of transition (for both of you).

You and your baby are taking on new roles and discovering a new way of being—and what it means to be exhausted.

As a parent, this fourth trimester asks a lot of you. It’s a time of great physical and emotional change. Your baby will mostly eat, sleep and poop.

Here are a few other things you can expect:

  • Skin-to-skin plays an important role. Being held close to you can regulate your baby’s heart rate, temperature, and breathing.
  • At this age, babies can only see and follow things within 15-20cm from their face and prefer high-contrast colors (like black, white, and red). Your baby will love looking at their hands and will already try to stick them in their mouth.
photo of a baby's hand holding an adults hand

What are primitive reflexes, and why are they important?

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Primitive reflexes kick in. These reflexes gradually disappear as children grow and their nervous systems develop and mature.

They are automatic, instinctive movements that newborns and infants do, which are critical for their survival and development. They also provide an important foundation for later motor and cognitive development.

Some of the most common primitive reflexes are:

  • Rooting reflex: when the baby's cheek is touched, they will turn their head and open their mouth, which helps them to find and latch onto the nipple.
  • Sucking reflex: when something touches the baby's lips, they will begin to suck, which helps them to feed and get nourishment.
  • Grasp reflex: when an object is placed in the baby's hand, they will grip it tightly, which helps them to hold onto objects and develop their hand-eye coordination.
  • Moro reflex: when the baby feels a sudden loss of support, they will throw their arms and legs out and then bring them back in, which helps them to respond to sudden changes in their environment.
  • Startle reflex: when the baby hears a loud noise, they will tense up and then relax, which helps them to react to sudden stimuli and protect themselves from danger.
photo of new baby sleeping

Has your little one passed the three-month stage? Check out the rest of our stages of play guide covering four to six months and up to four years old.

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Author:

Kaili Ets is lovingly known as the Holistic Baby Guru. She is passionate about normalizing and bringing clarity around baby sleep, development, reflux, and more.

Wife and mom of two, Kaili understands the importance of trusting your mama instincts. She is on a mission to help mamas tune into their intuition and feel like the confident super moms they are.

Her wit and humour make her an approachable authority on all things baby-related, as she provides down-to-earth advice that makes everyone feel like they can do this parenting thing! You can find her at kailiets.com or on IG/FB @theholisticbabyguru

This article was originally published on Mar 29, 2023

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