How to Encourage Development in Your 0-3-Month-Old Newborn

Life with a newborn is both exciting and exhausting. If it’s your first, you’re just getting a glimpse at the wonderful world of parenting. If it’s your second or third, you’re learning how to manage a newborn, a toddler and/or adolescent age children all at once. To say it gets overwhelming is an understatement. However, your newborn’s first few months of life are critical to the beginning a healthy development that will set them up for the rest of their lives. One of your jobs during this time, alongside the feedings and diaper changes, is to help encourage development so that your newborns can thrive as they start to get older. Luckily, it’s not as intense as it seems. Many of the best developmental activities are fun for both mom and baby and help strengthen your bond. To help you out a little, here are 6 activities that encourage development in your 0-3-month-old newborn.  

  1. Prioritize Tummy Time

    Tummy time is a great way to help encourage your baby’s physical development. In fact, tummy time has been shown to help your baby reach key motor milestones, develop postural and neck muscles, and prevents a flat spot on the back of their head.2 Newborns don’t always love tummy time, but they’ll get better at it the more they practice. If your baby isn’t doing well with tummy time, practice it in intervals and work your way up to longer times. You can incorporate it into other routines like diaper changes and playtime to help get in more tummy time each day. Remember, even if your baby resists at first, tummy time is one of the best ways to ensure that your baby’s physical development is healthy and on track to get to the next steps. If you’re struggling with tummy time, take a look at a few great activities to help make tummy time more fun.

  2. Initiate Bonding Activities

    There are many different aspects of development that you need to focus on with your baby. We always focus on the big milestones like walking and talking, but we can’t forget about emotional and social development during these times. Mom and baby bonding activities are a great way to make sure that your baby grows up feeling loved, accepted, and cherished. Luckily, bonding activities are usually some of the most fun and cherishing moments for mom as well. One of the best bonding activities you can do with your newborn is breastfeeding and nursing. The skin-to-skin contact that occurs during feedings is irreplaceable and shown to have numerous health benefits for both mom and baby. If for whatever reason you can’t breastfeed, you can still reap the benefits of nursing by feeding your baby with as much skin-to-skin contact as possible.

    While there are a few conflicting sources on the Internet about how to deal with a crying baby or toddler, responding to a crying newborn is a little different. Your newborn is learning about this big, scary world, how to interact with it, and who he or she can rely on when things get rough.2 In their first few months of life, crying is a sign that something is wrong or that they need something like food, sleep, or a diaper change. Don’t ignore a crying baby. Instead, respond with love and show them that you’re there for them no matter what.3 This helps your baby understand that you are their safe haven, which helps aid in a healthy development later in life.2

    In addition to soothing bonding activities, simply playing with your 0-3-month-old can help improve bonding and encourage social, physical, and emotional development.

    Finally, always love your baby unconditionally. Unconditional love is hard to find and replicate in life if you’ve never experienced it as a child, so it’s one of the best things you can do consistently for your baby.3

  3. Talk to Your Baby

    A great way to encourage language development is to talk to your baby throughout the day. Even though he or she can’t understand what you’re saying, talking is crucial in the development and understanding of language—especially as a newborn. When you talk to your baby, try to make sure they can see your face for most of the conversation. This allows their brain to strengthen their connection between your voice and your face, which doubles as a bonding activity. Maintain an ongoing conversation during diaper changes, nursing sessions, or during walks to help encourage development. During these conversations, talk to him or her like you would talk to an adult.1 While the inflection in your voice will undoubtedly change, using adult-level vocabulary, full sentences, and good grammar will help her brain make the proper neural connections that will eventually elicit non-verbal responses.2

    Talking to your baby not only helps encourage neural development, it also fosters social development.2 Another way to strengthen this development is to read to your baby. Reading is an activity that has multiple benefits. It helps strengthen your bond, sooths your baby, and can encourage increased brain development that is correlated with increased reading as a child and even adult.2 Start with books that have simple imagery and work your way up to interactive picture books that incorporate mirrors, textures, and lots of bright colors.

  4. Sing Lullabies

    Even if you’re not a world-class singer, singing lullabies to your baby—or any other songs you like—can help to strengthen your bond, sooth your baby, and encourage development. As we mentioned, the type of song you choose doesn’t really matter, just make sure to sing it in a soothing tone that comforts rather than alarms. This is great for those moments when you can’t comfort your baby physically, such as when you’re driving in the car.1

  5. Use Grasping Toys

    Newborns have innate reflexes that sometimes surprise new parents. One of these reflexes is their grasping reflex. Starting on day 1 your newborn will have a strong grasp, but it won’t stay that way for long. Reflexes soon integrate and your baby needs to learn how to do them voluntarily.2 To help encourage this voluntary action, use toys that they need to grasp like rattles and ring shaped toys. The simplicity of these toys allows your baby to use both their reflex and their conscious mind to slowly strengthen their grasping control as they age. To get the most out of your baby’s development, incorporate other exercises that help to strengthen your newborn’s primitive reflexes.

  6. Stimulate Cognitive Development

We’ve discussed physical, emotional, and social development, so now it’s time to understand cognitive development. Cognitive development is how children learn to think, explore, and learn about their environment and is one of the reasons that baby’s feel the need to put everything in their mouths. Some great ways to simulate cognitive development include incorporating mirrors, toys with lots of colors, and toys that make a variety of noises or light up. This mental stimulation will help your baby’s brain start to learn what things are, why they do what they do, and eventually how things happen. There are some great toys you can buy that help your baby understand how their own movement can affect items around them. One of these toys is a cute little “baby gym.” These are made out of soft mats, a few arches, and plenty of dangling toys to interact with. Some baby gyms are very simple while others are completely decked out, but both provide strong activities for cognitive development. Mobiles above the crib offer similar results without the physical interaction.

Another great way to encourage cognitive development tis to play lots of cause and effect games. These games allow your newborns to make connections of “if I do X, then Y will happen,” which is crucial for development later in life. There are endless amounts of cause and effect games, but here are a few to get you started.


Bringing home your newborn is a time filled with excitement, wonder, and love. You’ll get a chance to start bonding immediately, but one of the most rewarding things as a parent is learning who your child is as they develop. Help them along with these great development exercises and take time to sit back and enjoy the progress. Don’t forget that the Affordable Care Act means that expectant mothers are eligible to receive an breast pump covered by their insurance provider! Just head over to our page and browse our selection.

If you’ve tried any of these great developmental activities, or have more to add, head over to our Facebook page today and leave a comment!