3 months old: Emotional development

3 months old: Emotional development

Your baby’s emotional development at 3 months old. Follow your baby’s milestones step-by-step.

Emotional development allows children to understand, express, and manage their emotions as they grow. Children also develop the ability to recognize and interpret the emotions of others, which helps them build relationships with those around them.

Emotional development: 3 months old

At this age:

Remember that not all children develop the same skills at the same speed. The material on this website is for general information purposes only. If you’re concerned about your child’s development, speak with a doctor.
  • Your baby is awake more often and, as their attention span improves, they’re more available to interact with you and the people they know.
  • They start to smile and laugh to engage with others.
  • They start to imitate the facial expressions of their caregivers.
  • They communicate with you by making small sounds, like squeals.
  • They react when your voice or tone changes to express different emotions.
  • They may be surprised or pleased when they make things happen (e.g., when they push a button and it makes a noise).
  • Your baby reacts to familiar faces. For example, they smile more at the person who takes care of them most often.

Over the next few weeks, your baby will begin to do the following:

  • Get angry or grumpy when they don’t get what they want.
  • Smile widely and even burst out laughing when they’re happy.

How can you help your baby progress?

Every child is different and develops at their own pace. That said, you can help foster your baby’s development by adopting the Comfort, Play, and Teach parenting approach, which can easily be integrated into your daily routine. The table below outlines small, age-specific actions you can take that will benefit your child’s emotional development.

When you encourage your baby by smiling, applauding, and saying things like, “Good job! You picked up your elephant toy,”
your baby gradually develops a sense of competence, which encourages them to continue exploring.
When you give your baby a stuffed animal, a security blanket, or any other comforting object,
they learn to self-soothe.
When you recognize the signs that your baby is tired and react appropriately,
your baby learns to trust you, because you’re respecting their limitations.
When you do small, amusing physical activities with your baby throughout the day,
they have fun and learn how to calm down on their own afterwards.
When you stick to your baby’s routine and meet their needs consistently,
they know what to expect and feel safe.
When you provide your baby with fun, stimulating toys and objects,
they understand that you care about their feelings and well-being.


Naître et grandir

Scientific review: Chloé Gaumont, M.Sc., psychoeducator
Research and copywriting: The Naître et grandir team
Updated: November 2020


Photo: GettyImages/Nemer-T



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