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tWrex's avatar

What can you teach a 3 month old?

Asked by tWrex (1655 points ) September 29th, 2008

I watch my 3 month old niece on Mondays and Wednesdays and I really want to take an active approach in helping her develop. When I put her down I play classical music or a baby einstein dvd and after I feed, change and burp her I read to her, but I want to do more. Unfortunately, I’m no expert in child development but I figured someone else out there was so whats up? What can I do?

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23 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

I would wait until she is older. Be loving and cuddly and let her eat, sleep, poop, pee and observe the world. You are really rushing things.

poofandmook's avatar

@tWrex: I don’t see it as rushing at all. They’re never too young… as long as you’re not shoving it down her throat. There are endless sources of toys that help children learn, for all ages. Baby Einstein is a great place to start. And Sesame Street is another great resource. If a child is going to play, why not make it educational play? They don’t know they’re learning while they’re having fun.

tWrex's avatar

@gailcalled If I came off like I’m trying to throw her into it I apologize. That’s not my intention. I just want to help her develop into a bright young child and I wasn’t sure if there were things I could do or if I should just do the things I’m doing now. She’s just my niece and I only babysit her twice a week so I can only do so much.

@poofandmook What types of toys would you recommend? She’s got a bunch of baby einstein toys that make noise (purchased by me of course!), but I wasn’t sure if blocks or stuff like that are even available to children so young.

marissa's avatar

First, it is great that you care. I think that reading to her and playing appropriate music (classical, lullabies) are great too. However, I wouldn’t have her watch DVD’s or tv for health/developemental reasons. The biggest thing is letting her have new sensory experiences, without overwhelming her. Give her things that have different textures to try and hold or touch (make sure they are safe). New smells or tastes (once again, make sure they are safe and age appropriate for a 3 month old).

poofandmook's avatar

With my cousins, we had these big plastic alphabet blocks, and we’d trace their fingers over the letters and say the letter… after some time if you said the letter they’d point to the block… this was just a hair before they started with their first words.

tWrex's avatar

@marissa I agree with you that watching dvd’s can have a negative impact on children, but not if they are used properly. Too many parents have relied on baby einstein to become a babysitter as opposed to something that’s used as a learning tool and in moderation. The baby einsteins that I play are the ones for the younger children (beethoven, gallileo, lullaby and babies first sounds) and they make use of bright colors, but with limited movement. I appreciate your point-of-view and do understand why you say that it could developmentally be damaging.

@poofandmook That’s awesome! I’ll have to look for them tomorrow when I’m out and about!

shilolo's avatar

You should know that no studies have shown any benefit to the Baby Einstein (and other) series of DVDs for development purposes. In fact, there are studies pointing to reduced vocabulary in users of the Baby Einstein series. The best thing for her is to interact with her as much as possible, sing to her, read to her, tickle her, etc.

poofandmook's avatar

@tWrex: I should definitely mention they were a few months older than your niece though. But the blocks are fun anyway! Rounded edges and plastic so they were safe.

tWrex's avatar

I think if I sang to her she’d go deaf. And thank you Doc for your input. It’s appreciated.

gailcalled's avatar

I raised my children with very few noisy or moving or day-glow toys. I think that you can gauge when the infant is ready for certain stimulations by the baby’s responses. We used aluminum pots, wooden spoons, frogs, sandy beaches, loving and silly age-appropriate behavoir. They turned out extremely well as did my nieces and nephews. (See Ben for the paradigm.)

tWrex's avatar

Thanks everyone for your answers. Like I said, I was just trying to see if there was anything more I could do. Just trying to be a concerned Uncle. ツ (smiley jacked from robmandu)

Snoopy's avatar

Awww shucks. What a great uncle.

The best thing you can do for a baby of 3 months is love her and take care of her needs. Play w/ her, read to her, sing to her…
enjoy her baby-ness….and her current state of immobility :)

janbb's avatar

I think the most important thing that babies need to learn at that age is that the world is a positive place, that people love them and that their basic needs will be met consistently. If you are changing, feeding, smiling at and talking to your niece, you are doing a great job. The more love a baby gets, the more she will be able to learn as she grows.

augustlan's avatar

My two oldest children are very gifted, and my youngest is above grade level. I would have to say that most of that they were born with. I think the only things I did any differently than most parents were these:

The only TV they watched for at least 3 years was Sesame Street in the AM, and Wheel of Fortune in the PM. (Don’t laugh…WOF taught my daughter the alphabet, before I even realized she was ready to learn it!)

I used an adult vocabulary with them note: not cusswords! and assumed they would figure out most of the meanings through context. If not, I took the time to explain the word. I never “dumbed-down” my language with them. (As a two year old, my oldest was fond of starting her sentences with “Well, actually…”. To adults, that was a hoot!)

When teaching new things, I assumed they could learn more than the basics. For instance, in teaching shapes, they learned the usual: circle, square, etc and the unusual: pentagon, octagon, etc all at the same time.

The usual things make a big difference, too. I spoke to them, read to them, told oral stories to them, and sang to them from infancy on.

All that being said, the best possible thing you can teach a child is that they are safe, valued and loved.

tWrex's avatar

Thanks everyone. Appreciate them all. I’m gonna read a midsummer nights dream to her now. ツ

Likeradar's avatar

Janbb is exactly right. :)
Also, exposure, exposure, exposure. Take her out, talk to her constantly about what you’re doing and what you see. Even if it’s just as the grocery store, “Oh, what’s that? It’s a carrot! It’s orange and crunchy and good for you…” You’ll feel like an idiot at first but it becomes second nature.
Most of all, love her and as janbb said, let her know the world is interesting and positive.
The simple fact that you’re asking and interested means you’re probably doing a good job. She’s lucky!

knittingandcanning's avatar

janbb & Likeradar: You are completely right!

Taking walks with her and letting her look at and touch plants, feeling a little sun on her face and alwas talking to her! Such great things for her to experience!

One thing my partner and I love doing is making a certain face at our daughter and watching her try to mimic it! It takes a little while for a three month old to get the hang of it so go slow at first so as not to overwhelm her. We started with sticking our tongues out 2 – 3 times per minute and eventually she just barely opened her mouth and brought her tongue to be equal with her lips, not fully extending it. It’s really cute. As time goes by, she’ll get better and better at it!

Try this as long as her head/neck isn’t too wobbly. Start with baby lying down on her back. Hold onto her hands and slowly and gently start pulling her into a sitting position. If she dosen’t seem able to keep her head equal to her sholders don’t continue to pull her up, just lay her back down gently. My daughter started doing this successfully at 3 months and really loved it, she’d smile so big! Then, once that’s mastered, try getting her to stand up from the sitting possition, all while holding onto her hands.

Another great activity is tummy time! Some babies don’t like being on their tummies for some time because it’s hard for them to keep their heads up. My daughter hated it until she was 3 – 3 1/2 months old, which is when her neck was strong enough to keep her head up. She really enjoys it.

Also, if you’re interested I would recommend The Baby Book It has a great section on the development of babies from birth to 2 years old.

scamp's avatar

@tWrex I’m glad you asked this question. My grandson is 6 weeks old, and my daughter was planning on getting the Baby Einstein series for him. I’m going to tell her about the info that shi provided here.

marinelife's avatar

Shi, as he is so often, is so right. I just listened to a fascinating interview with Jeffrey Canada on This American Life. One of the most interesting parts were the studies that show conclusively that the primary predictors of later success in life (including IQ, grades, reading ability, income, etc.) are how many words a baby hears between 0–3 years.

Talk to the baby as much as possible. Also, sing to the baby, and (a bit later than three months) read to the baby.

SpatzieLover's avatar

twrex- At 3 mos old, I began this, Your Baby Can Read

Now, I waited for three years to become pregnant so I had plenty of time to educate myself on baby brain development. Most books (including thse written by neurologists) suggestes singing, speaking, reading, rhyming, and including exercise and “lessons” (swimming, dance, music-etc) as early and as often as you can.

The “teach your baby” and Doman methods include you the caretaker in the methods of learning and state TV or music on its own will do little to educate without a participating, nurturing adult.

How we did the DVD’s. I had the babe on my lap in my arms while he was directly facing the TV. I’d say the words along w/the DVD. Then try to utilize the same word sets in our daily life.

My son (see angel in avatar) is now three.

He began saying ‘Hi!” at around 4.5mos. By 6mos, he was fascinated by the sound “Bob” and said it repeated throught the day. He baegan saying “hot” regularly at age 7mos. (I’m a tea drinker and would carry him while I poured my tea).

At 18mos, he had a 2,000 word vocabulary. Two months later it was over 2,500 (beyond this age I could no longer keep track).

At 22 mos he was singing the alphabet well enough for others to understand. And at this age he began to analyze how things work. “Oh, the handle turns like a clock” He said this about a patio umbrella at a friends garden party.

At 24mos, began saying the “now I lay me” prayer & doing the sign of the cross.

Now, he re-enacts the Wizard of Oz, says the Hail Mary, and ‘becomes’ different “characters” (his word) during his creative play.

He now commonly uses words such as: vanished, delightful, frightened, suitable…well, the list could go on. He is an excellent conversationalist. His favorite books are in the range of 9–12yr olds. We read all of the Andrew Lang Fairy books, The Wizard Of Oz series, and American Girl books.
He can recite most popular (maybe 20–25 depending on his willingness) Mother Goose rhymes.

We put him in swimming lessons at 8mos and he just began Tap/Ballet (and loves it). We tried putting him in Tae Kwon Do, but he wasn’t fond of hitting or kicking (we don’t force, just act upon his interests then let him discover).

I think your interest alone in more for your niece is a fantastic beginning. There’s much she can learn from you if you have an eager mind set in her presence.

Instead of talking baby talk, use adult form of conversation while explaining to her what you are doing. “well angel, let’s put on the news and see just how the stock market is doing today.” “I’m going to make myself some tea now so I can warm myself on the cold winter day” “Let’s change your dirty pants quickly so you don’t develop a rash”

Anyone that would’ve looked into my home when my son was tiny would’ve thought I was crazy. I had full talks with him and sang his name and songs to him throughout the day.

Cuddling is important to. i breast-fed ;)Since you won’t be doing that, I suggest you speak as calmingly as possible during her feedings. Tell her how proud you ae of her. how much you love her-etc. Feeding is a special bonding time that hellps babies learn how to self soothe if done in a calm manner.

Okay. Clearly I’m a proud mom. Sorry to ramble. But I’m here to help you in anyway I can.

(I’m great at potty training, too) ;)

tWrex's avatar

Awesome awesome awesome! That is fantastic @SpatzieLover! I am hoping that I can do as well with her as you’ve done with your little angel—as represented by your avatar ツ—. Today was the last full day I’ll be babysitting her for a few weeks, but I’ll still get to do it for shorter times throughout the week. Thanks to everyone for all of your advice and suggestions.

Judi's avatar

I wanted to teach my kids “cause and effect” but 25 years ago they didn’t have squeaky toys that a babies hands were strong enough to use. My solution? I bought dogie toys that had a softer rubber so when they squeezed it with their little fingers they could make a noise. My kids are all pretty smart (Smarter than me but don’t tell them I said that) so it must have worked!

4077NIKKI's avatar

I have a 3-month old and I too am alway’s looking for ways to stimulate and round out his developement. I have found that he takes the lead with most of his learning games. We spend a lot of time, me holding a toy and he practices taking it from me. It doesn’t seem to get old. We talk, talk, talk. He takes a turn, I take a turn. He has “Hi” down pretty well.

My pediatrician said to encourage “Tummy Time”, time on his stomach while closely watched. This helps him develop his back and neck and he is starting to try and roll over. It took a while before this was something that he was willing to do but now he enjoys it for short periods. I agree. Get out, wear her in a front pack if you are able. Let her see what you see and explain to her what is going on.

I am torn about the Einstein dvds. I definitely wouldn’t use them as a babysitter but I have a demo of theirs, it is the Mozart and World Music. I turned it on to watch it myself thinking that my son was to young to take an interest. He was engrossed and smiled so we danced and I clapped his hands to the music. I am still deciding, I am leaning towards using them but not overdoing.

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