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Your baby's emotional development 0 to 3 months

0 to 3 Months
Smile and talk to your baby; being close to you is key to her forming attachment

Your baby at a glance

Your baby is adjusting to life outside the womb, and needs your touch, warmth and soothing voice to feel safe. During this stage you are likely to see your baby:
  • Crying a fair amount, particularly during the first month or two. This is his way of communicating his needs to you
  • Preferring to be close to you and preferring to watch your face above anyone or anything else.
  • Forming attachment to you early on, through your warm care attending to her needs
  • Starting to smile at you around 2-3 months, showing how much she enjoys seeing you and being with you
  • Increasingly using different expressions to show a variety of feelings in reaction to what is going on in the ‘moment’ (expressions not yet intentional)
  • Imitating your gestures, e.g. sticking out tongue, and this is the start of how she learns about different behaviours and emotional responses

Your baby's story

Your baby is new to this world, and adjusting to life outside the womb is not always easy. In the beginning (in particular the first month), he may cry a lot and will need to feel safe and calm, which means he will prefer to be close to you. Crying is the main form of communication your baby is using at this stage.

Mother kissing babyYour baby's social smile is likely to appear around 2-3 months, and as she learns to recognise you (and other primary caregivers) she will smile to show she likes seeing you and interacting with you. She is becoming easier to comfort as she is settling into her existence and is getting used to and enjoying her routine with you. She is bonding with you from an early age, her attachment forming as she is receiving warm, responsive and nurturing care from you.

You will find that your baby gradually becomes more expressive and communicative during this stage. She will increasingly use facial expressions and body language to communicate with you and let you know what she wants. During this time you will also see that your baby is starting to show a wider variety of feelings, expressing emotions more clearly, such as joy, interest and distress. She will start responding to a situation through smiling, frowning, gurgling, and body movements. These reflect how your baby feels in response to the 'moment', so the expressions are not intentional.

Your baby prefers your face (and other faces) to inanimate objects like a doll or a teddy. He may try to imitate your gestures such as sticking out his tongue when you do. More and more, as he grows, he'll be using this as an important way to learn about emotional responses and behaviours.

What you can do to support and encourage your baby's development

You provide safety and warmth for your newborn, so remember that being close to you and listening to your voice will be the most important thing to soothe your baby in the beginning.

Crying is the main form of communication your baby knows at first, and it does not mean you're doing something wrong. Continue following your instinct in comforting and cuddling your baby and helping him get used to life outside the womb. Your touch, soothing voice and responding to her needs forms his attachment to you and gives him a sense of a warm and safe world.

Smile a lot and talk to your baby. She loves looking at your face and learns from what she hears and sees. And it doesn’t take long before you are rewarded by lots of smiling and cooing in response to your smiles and chatter.

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