3 months old: Cognitive and linguistic development

3 months old: Cognitive and linguistic development

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

Cognitive development refers to the acquisition of skills such as memory, attention, reasoning, and planning. These skills allow children to manage their emotions, thoughts, and behaviours, in addition to helping them store knowledge, solve problems, exercise judgment, and understand the world around them. Cognitive development also includes language development, which is a child’s ability to communicate, make sounds, understand language, and begin to talk.

Cognitive and language development: 3 months old

Cognitive skills

At this age:

  • Your baby pays more attention to their toes, feet, fingers, and mouth, as well as to objects, which they try to guess the purpose of.
  • They recognize familiar people and objects, even from a distance.
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 has been storing information since they were born, but they’re now beginning to use their memory (e.g., to anticipate actions or activities).
  • They like to play repetitive games and repeat newly learned activities.

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

  • Control their attention more and more, such as by deliberately focusing on a face for a few seconds.
  • Use their eyesight to guide their actions, such as by deliberately moving to grab an object in front of them.
  • Deliberately hold objects in their hands.

Language skills

At this age:

  • Your baby is babbling, making “a” and “ae” sounds.
  • They make sounds when they feel happy.
  • When you speak to them, they react with babbling, cooing, and little cries.
  • They communicate their different needs by crying in different ways.

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

  • Better control the sounds they make.
  • Explore how to use their voice.

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 baby’s cognitive and language development.

When you sing the same song to your baby each time they cry,
they eventually calm down.
When you describe what you’re doing or what your baby is feeling or hearing during your day-to-day interactions,
they enjoy hearing the sound of your voice.
When you pay attention to signs that your baby is comfortable or uncomfortable,
they feel that their needs are understood.
When you imitate the sounds your baby makes (e.g., “aaa”),
they may try to imitate you, too.
When you smile and gently tickle your baby,
you make them feel good.
When you shake a toy that makes noise in front of your baby,
they become interested in the sounds that objects make.
When you place a toy close enough to your baby that they can kick it and it makes a noise,
they discover that they can move an object and make it produce sounds.
When you make different facial expressions in front of your baby,
they watch you and learn to respond.


Naître et grandir

Scientific review: Marie-Ève Bergeron-Gaudin, speech-language pathologist, and Noémie Montminy, doctoral student in psychopedagogy at Université Laval.
Research and copywriting: The Naître et grandir team
Updated: August 2021


Photo: GettyImages/damircudic



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