Tag Archives: 1-3 months



Part of the motor skill development during baby’s first year includes learning concepts of orientation.  These concepts include on, off, inside, outside, over, under, right, left, and more.  These concepts help us to be very clear about where we are in relationship to our environment. A baby who crawls under a chair has a very different perspective and relationship to the environment than a baby who is sitting on a chair.  Learning one’s orientation in space is part of a larger experience of proprioception, which tells us where our body parts are in space as well.  Sometimes the spatial orientation describes an object and its relationship to us, such as “The shoe is on your foot.”


Parents guide babies toward a highly-developed motor skill ability when they teach the concepts of spatial orientation during infancy.  Their movement develops more clarity and directness with the learning of these concepts.  Think about what you would do if someone asked you to go to the other side of the room.  Now, think about what you would do if someone asked you to go to the other side of the room and sit in the red chair.  This instruction regarding the red chair gives your movement a specific guideline that creates clarity and purpose in your movement.  A child would be clear about where to go and what to do when they arrive.  Without the instruction of the red chair there are so many options available.  Do they sit or stand?  On the blue chair or red chair or sofa?  Carefully chosen words clarify the movement for a child if she understands clearly the spatial concepts.  Learning these concepts begins at birth.


  • in/out
  • on/off
  • open/close
  • inside/outside
  • under/on top of
  • right/left
  • beside/across from/next to


Add these sentences to your vocabulary with baby to guide her toward an understanding of spatial concepts:

  • Hold the rattle in your hand.
  • Let’s put you in the car seat./Let’s take you out of the car seat.
  • Let’s put the shoe on your foot/Let’s take the shoe off your foot.
  • Let’s put the shoe on your right foot/left foot.
  • Sit in the high chair./Would you like to get out of the high chair ?
  • Set the block on the table./Set the block under the table.
  • Open your hand for some cheerios./Close your hand to hold the cheerio.
  • Shall we read a story?  Sit next to me.  Now, open the book.



a teacher holds a baby rattle close so baby can look at it

baby holds a rattle


One of the first motor skills developed during baby’s first year is grasping and reaching.  It develops quite quickly as baby sees objects that interest her.  Her curiosity motivates her to reach out and grab the object to explore it with her own hands.  She likes to see if she can create the sound she hears when mom shakes the rattle.  She uses her arm to shake the toy and she touches the colorful pieces with her fingers.  Parents quickly accumulate a collection of baby rattles and toys to provide entertainment for baby.  One interesting toy can keep baby busy for quite awhile.  The rattles reflect a variety of stimulating features:  bright colors, soft fabric, moving parts, ringing bells, swishing sand, animal faces, and much more.  There is no limit to the market of imaginative and entertaining baby toys.


Often a caregiver holds out a toy for baby and quickly shakes it a few times and then watches to see if baby immediately grabs it.  When it appears that baby hesitates, the parent or nanny rejects the toy and offers a new one. He or she often thinks: “You don’t like this one, how about this one?  Or this one?”  This cycle repeats a few times until the parent or nanny gives up and just sets a toy next to baby.  This pattern reflects how fast-paced our society is today and how quickly adults process information with our hands and eyes.  It is important to remember that baby is still learning to see objects and to coordinate her body actions.  It takes time for baby to see the object, focus on it, and to develop an interest in it.  This process takes time.  Only when she is curious about the baby rattle will she develop the motivation to reach out and grasp it.   Give her time.


  1. Give her time to focus on the rattle with her eyes.  Hold it close to her so she can see it.  The younger babies usually need a bit more time since their eyesight is less developed.
  2. Move the rattle a bit so she sees the bright colors or hears the sound.  Babies see moving objects more clearly than still ones.  For some babies it helps to make the sound gently and for others a quick and loud sound is intriguing.  Shake the toy and pause.  Shake the toy and pause.  Give her time to figure out that this object is making this sound.
  3. Invite the baby to try shaking the rattle.  Ask, “Would you like to try it?”  or “Would you like to hold it?”  The tone of your voice lets them know that they can hold it.  It reassures them.  This is useful when the motor skill of reaching and grasping is very new to baby.


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The technique of securely wrapping a blanket around  baby to keep her arms and legs secure is called swaddling.  The blanket is folded in a precise way to be rather snug and keep the arms and legs of a newborn baby from flailing around.  The Mayo Clinic website demonstrates one technique for swaddling a newborn.  This often is calming to the baby.  Sometimes babies are swaddled to keep them warm or to transport them more easily.  Mothers around the world have swaddled babies for these very same reasons for thousands of years.  Just think of the images you have seen of  babies swaddled and put into a papoose which is carried on the mother’s back in Native American tribes or of baby Jesus lying in the manager.


One of the most popular reasons for swaddling babies is to quiet their crying.  When nothing else seems to work, swaddling is often helpful in quieting a crying baby.  Dr. Harvey Karp, pediatrician and author of The Happiest Baby on the Block, demonstrates the swaddling technique in the above video from thehappiestbaby’s youtube channel.  Dr. Karp teaches that swaddling a newborn is one of the key elements to inducing a more calm and quiet state.  Some babies are swaddled just for sleeping at nighttime so they do not startle themselves as they move.


Newborns sometimes startle themselves when they move an arm or a leg.  They have been in a watery environment in the womb and the sensation of ones body moving in water is much different than when moving out of the water.  When in water there is more pressure against our limbs.  They have not yet developed much muscle control of their limbs.   Swaddling keeps them from flailing their limbs and provides a clear feeling of their body because of the snug wrap of the blanket.  The development of proprioception is very important for motor skill development during baby’s first year.  Because baby’s movements are sometimes sudden and unexpected at this early age the swaddling also keeps her from falling out of mommy’s arms.  It is important not to swaddle too tightly as well, which will be discussed in a future post.  When you ask ‘Why swaddle?” just remember the benefits listed below.


  • Keeps babies warm
  • Helps quiet baby
  • Makes baby easier to carry
  • Keeps baby safe
  • Improves baby’s feeling of her own body


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One of the most popular lullaby songs to sing to baby originated in France about 250 years ago.   This was only the tune of the song, the beloved lyrics evolved later.  The lyrics were written in 1806 in England when sisters Jane and Ann Taylor published their second books of poems for children called “Rhymes for the Nursery.”  The poem “The Star” was written for that book by Jane and are sung as the tune we know today “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”


The video above from SuperSimpleLearning’s youtube channel reminds us of how to sing this lullaby.  Below are the words to Jane Taylor’s poem “The Star” which is the full version of the song that we know and love today:

  • Twinkle, twinkle little star
  • How I wonder what you are.
  • Up above the wold so high
  • Like a diamond in the sky
  • Twinkle, twinkle little star
  • How I wonder what you are!

  • When the blazing sun is gone,
  • When he nothing shines upon,
  • Then you show your little light,
  • Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.
  • Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
  • How I wonder what you are!

  • Then the traveler in the dark
  • Thanks you for your tiny spark;
  • He could not see which way to go,
  • If you did not twinkle so.
  • Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
  • How I wonder what you are!

  • In the dark blue sky you keep,
  • And often through my curtains peep,
  • For you never shut your eye,
  • ‘Till the sun is in the sky.
  • Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
  • How I wonder what you are!

  • As your bright and tiny spark,
  • Lights the traveller in the dark,
  • Though I know not what you are,
  • Twinkle, twinkle, little star.


One of the most popular baby shower gifts today is an infant sling or wrap.  The trend in baby wearing is one that is deeply beneficial in the development of a baby.  For many years, non-industrialized cultures have practiced this technique of wrapping baby in fabric and carrying her mother’s back or chest during the day while mother goes about her household duties.  The benefits of baby wearing include:

  • Reduced Crying
  • Facilitates Motor Skill Development
  • Free Hands for the Mother (or Father)
  • Improves Emotional Bonding


A research study published in 1986 by the American Academy of Pediatrics, in the journal Pediatrics, found “Increased Carrying Reduces Infant Crying.”  This study found that crying patterns of infants decreased 40-50% when the babies were carried for an additional couple of hours a day in slings or wraps.  This additional time does not include the minutes of holding and carrying of baby during feeding or soothing cries.  The researchers suggest that the relative lack of carrying in our society may predispose infants to colic and crying.  Published in 1986, the researchers now have the chance to observe the increase in baby wrapping and wearing.


Baby wearing also facilitates motor skill development in babies.  The pressure of the fabric wrapped around baby’s body along with the pressure of her body against her mother’s (or father’s) improves her proprioception.  She also experiences a wonderful amount of vestibular stimulation while gently moving around with her mother.  This facilitates the development of balance.  Baby also enjoys the opportunity to be on eye level with the activity of the world around her.


Today there is an epidemic of utilizing equipment such as jumpers and exersaucers/activity centers to give mother free hands so she can go about her daily activities.   Using these pieces of baby gear force baby to be in a positon her bones and muscles are not yet ready for.  Better developmental options which also free the hands of the parent and facilitate the development of a baby include the playpen and the baby wraps.  Psychologists also suggest there is an increase in the emotional bonding of the mother/father to the baby with the use of wraps and slings, and may be especially useful in cases with maternal postpartum depression.  And with both parents working today in many families, dad can learn to wear the wrap as well.


It is important to receive instruction from a qualified resource regarding the technique of wrapping baby.  In recent years there have been recalls on certain wraps/sling due to problems often related to how the parent was using it.  It is important to observe safety precautions.  One important point is to make sure that the baby’s chin in not pressed down toward her throat making breathing difficult.  Another safety tip is to avoid carrying baby in a vertical position, with her head up toward the sky, until she has mastered tummy-time.  She is not strong enough in her neck muscles to hold her head up for long periods of time in a carrier until she can do so on the floor while on her tummy.  Opt instead for a baby wrap such as the moby wrap where you can learn to carry baby in the horizontal positon.  Babies enjoy being carried with you, it just takes a bit of patience and learning to use these tools.



baby with head and neck supported


One of the most commonly-needed supports for baby is that of the head and neck.  This is often easy to do when holding the baby in one’s arms but challenging to do when picking baby up or putting her down.  It is the transition from picking her up off of the floor and putting her back down again that brings moments when her head lacks the necessary support.  Parents should learn how to hold and transition baby from one place to another while keeping her head and neck supported.


In the above photos, Donna demonstrates head support with Zizu (about 5 mos. old).  The hand can be placed in back of the head so it is cradling the head while the wrist of the same arm crosses in back of the neck and upper back.  This prevents the head from tipping backward beyond the position of extension.  Extension of the neck is the position of the head when we sit up straight and look forward.  Hyperextension is when we sit up straight and look up toward the sky. The latter should be avoided with baby.  To complete our anatomy lesson we should also mention that flexion of the neck  is the action of looking down toward the floor from a sitting position.  When baby is lying on her back in your arms or on the floor, extension exists when her spine and head make a straight line that is parallel to the floor.  Hyperextension, which we want to avoid, exists when the head tips backward from the point of extension.  This causes great strain on the developing muscles and ligaments of the neck.


The great range of motion that is possible with the head and neck exists because we need that mobility to look around us.  The somatics pioneer Dr. Moshe Feldenkais referred to the head as the “perioscope of the senses.”  You can imagine a submarine with the perioscope moving around to observe what is happening, to determine which way to go, and to steer clear of potential danger.  That is what we are basically doing with our head and senses as we move.  Thus, we need greater mobility in the neck region of the spine than we do the lower portions such as the middle of the back.  The mid-back had less range of motion because it is part of the ribcage which protects vulnerable organs like the heart.  The need here is for stability and protection.


Babies develop strong neck muscles through motor skill development.  Tummy-time is one of the most important activities for developing this strength.  Tummy-time for babies teaches the gross motor skill of lifting the head.  By putting baby on her stomach two or three times a day while supervised, she will learn to lift her head very high.  At first, begin with only a few minutes on the tummy and gradually increase the time as her strength and comfort improves.  This activity develops the strength in her neck and back muscles so she can eventually hold her head up on her own.  Remember that it takes  time, maybe 2 or 3 months, to develop this strength.  Continue to support baby’s head until she can hold her head up on her own for a long time while on her tummy.