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Baby Milestones: 3-to-15-Month Olds

Baby Milestones: 3-to-15-Month Olds

From improved focus at 3 months to a sense of fairness at 15 months, there’s more going on in your child’s brain than you may know! Here are some of their month-by-month milestones.

Medically reviewed by a board-certified pediatrician

Ah, your baby’s first words. They’re a big deal. Same with the first time they take a step. Huge. But your little one’s working on many other lesser-known baby milestones as well. The month-by-month milestones reveal just how much is happening in that developing brain of theirs.

3 months: Selective looking 

What your baby sees may seem like a mystery to you. But researchers have found ways to track a baby’s vision and attention to provide some definite clues. By three months, babies can select certain things to focus on. For example, they can pick out a letter R from a group of P’s or distinguish a red umbrella in a sea of gray ones.

Help support this baby milestone:

  • Help promote vision development with toys that have high contrasts and interesting patterns to look at
  • Help support their vision by feeding them breast milk or formula that has DHA, a fatty acid shown to be important to the development of the retina. The better a baby can see, the more they take in

5 months: Recognizes emotions

Can a friend’s cranky baby put yours in a bad mood? Possibly. Babies use emotion to communicate. And by 5 months, they’re pretty good at reading the emotions of others. Researchers have found that babies can match emotions through the right facial expressions or vocalizations in other babies at 5 months, in parents or caregivers at 6 months, and in other adults by 7 months.

Help support this baby milestone:

  • Reassure them that crying’s the right way to connect with you by responding quickly when your baby cries
  • Make exaggerated funny faces your baby can imitate

9 months: Connects pictures and objects 

The ability to learn from a picture happens surprisingly early. Not many of us have ever seen a dinosaur or spaceship, but we all understand what they are. Researchers published in the journal Child Development found that even brief exposure to a picture helped the child recognize the image when they saw it again later.

Help support this baby milestone:

  • When reading to your baby, name the objects you see on the page. You can also do this with images you see on billboards or storefronts when you’re out and about
  • Choose books with photographs instead of drawings to help make the connection to real-world objects easier

15 months: A sense of what’s fair 

Researchers used to think that a sense of helping others didn’t show up until age 2, and that a sense of fairness didn’t develop until 6 or 7. Both are parts of selfless behavior. But experiments at the University of Washington revealed that young toddlers noted when food was distributed fairly; and when it wasn’t, they became more willing to share their own.

Help support this toddler milestone:

  • Let your child see you treating others fairly. While researchers aren’t sure how much of selflessness is part of intrinsic personality, they believe observing how parents behave is key

Month by month, your baby’s milestones keep growing. Almost as quickly as they do! Get ready for more amazing milestones in the months to come. 

"Take time for yourself even if it means having a babysitter, grandparent or hubby feed a bottle. It will make you a better mommy and your family will love you more when you are happy with yourself and love yourself." – Enfamil® mom

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