Thursday, August 11, 2022

3-6 Month Educational Goals

My baby is 3 months old now, and that means I’ve hit a checkpoint where I’ll be reviewing and updating my goals for her development. So, first, let’s look at the 0-3 month goals.

0-3 Month Goals

Living Skills


I set two goals related to eating:

  • Drinks from cup held to lips
  • Getting a decent latch and sucking persistently until no longer hungry
She has made little progress on either of those. As mentioned, I added the cup goal because she surprised me by being able to drink the last few drops from a cup. However, I’ve stopped offering this for two reasons - one, I had to be extremely careful or she’d choke, and two, I have switched over to a different bottle that is both easier to get the last drops in the nipple and harder to drink from like a cup, so there’s no real reason for it. As such, I’m deferring that goal to start working on at 6 months, which is when I’d originally planned to start offering a cup. As for the breastfeeding issue, well, for the past couple months we’ve been trying to get our finances in order to hire a lactation consultant. Hopefully that’ll help. She’s developed an interest in licking my nipples, as well as pretty much everything else, but she still seems to find nursing frustrating and difficult at the best of times and utterly impossible most of the time. In addition, I’ve moved a goal for an older age earlier. This goal was taken from the Standards Based Life Skills Curriculum:

  • Regulates quantity of foods consumed
She’s usually pretty good at letting us know when she wants to stop drinking milk, and I’ve been listening. However, she does sometimes drink too fast, leading to gas, spitting up or choking, so we’re working on that. Overall, latching and regulating quantity remain ongoing goals for the 3-6 month period, and drinking from cup has been deferred to 6-9 months.


The news here is much better. I had set the following four goals, taken from the Standards Based Life Skills Curriculum:

  • Cooperates with being placed on toilet

  • Toilets on a scheduled time with prompt

  • Urinates in toilet

  • Voids bowels in toilet

Last update, when she was 3 weeks old, I’d just decided to start trying elimination communication, a potty training strategy with no minimum age. It’s been going really well so far.

Firstly, I should say that I split the latter two goals in two. In addition to "urinates in toilet" and "voids bowels in toilet", I've also entered into my database the goals "only urinates in toilet" and "only voids bowels in toilet". I'm planning to only start working on the latter two goals at a much older age - currently set at 9 months, which is a common age for completion of potty training for elimination communication. The current goals are more about regularly voiding in the toilet when given the opportunity, and not about refraining from using her diaper when she feels the need.

So far, pee has been going better than poop. For weeks, she averaged roughly equal wet diapers vs pees in the potty, and just recently (the past four days), she's started having more pees in the potty than in her diaper. On July 10th I recorded this as mastered, because I'm pretty sure she's peeing in the potty whenever she actually needs to pee when I offer the potty. As of four days ago, I think she may have started trying to hold out for the potty instead of peeing her diaper, though I may also have just gotten better at anticipating her needs.

Speaking of which, “toilets on a scheduled time with prompt” feels like more of a goal for me than for her. I’ve been experimenting with various ways to schedule her pottying, as well as ways of reading her own rhythms, and I really think I’m making solid progress here. When I read about elimination communication before her birth, one thing that EC moms reported that sounded nuts to me was that when they randomly got the feeling that their baby needed to potty, they usually did. Well, it doesn’t sound so nuts to me now. One thing I didn’t realize before I became a mother is just how intuitive parenting is. We’ve got instincts that make us want to do things to care for babies even if we’re not consciously aware of why, and as I’ve been trying to anticipate and meet her needs, I’ve found my intuition coming in tune with her for each of those needs - feeding, burping, attention, play, and yes, elimination as well.

Besides that parenting intuition - which is still hit-or-miss - I have an app that prompts me at random times to potty her, and I have also learnt that when she first wakes from a nap, especially a nap induced by a feed, she will most likely be dry but needing to pee very soon. In addition, when she poops, she usually waits a little bit and then pees. I’ve also found that when she’s fussy, in addition to offering milk, trying to soothe, and trying to burp her, I should also try pottying her and changing her diaper.

While I’m not perfect, I’m doing well enough that I’ve registered this one as mastered.

I mentioned that poop hasn’t been going as well. She seems not to like pooping in the EC position - on several occasions she’s pooped in her diaper shortly after I’ve pottied her, so I think she might be deliberately holding back from pooping in the potty. Which is fine by me, since my real goal with EC was to give her more agency and choice in her toileting. While I would prefer she poop in the potty, it’s her body. Trying to force the issue would be harmful and counterproductive. Currently, she generally poops several times a day in her diaper most days, and only once every couple days in the potty. I’ll keep pottying her and tracking her progress, and see how it goes in the future.

Lastly, there’s cooperating with being pottied. This was initially a big issue, and for the first few tries, she cried quite a bit. It made me feel insecure and afraid and I contemplated quitting, wondering if maybe I was doing something wrong and hurting her or something. But I persevered, and she figured out the routine, and now she’s often calm or even happy being pottied. (Although her favorite part of the diaper change is when I lay her on the changing surface and put her diaper back on, because she can make eye contact and smile and babble at me.) She does still sometimes fuss while being pottied, but only when she’s crabby anyway or when she’s got gas. Or right after her 2 month vaccinations, when her thighs were sore. She’s happy enough most of the time when being pottied, so I’ve registered this as mastered.

Overall, we’ve mastered 3 out of the 4 goals, with pooping in the potty as an ongoing goal.

Motor Development


These items were drawn from the Montessori Scope and Sequence:

  • Lifts head while being held (MD.E.1)
  • Raises head while lying on stomach (MD.E.2)
  • Masters control of the head (MD.E.3)
  • Supports upper body with arms while lying on stomach (MD.E.4)
  • Stretches out and kicks legs (MD.E.5)
  • Pushes down with legs when held above a hard surface (MD.E.6)

Overall, she’s been making excellent progress here. Her head control is great, and I’ve recorded MD.E.1 and MD.E.2 mastered in early June, and recently recorded MD.E.3 as mastered as well. I’ve also recorded the three limb-related goals as mastered, since she’s been propping her upper body on her arms during tummy time, kicking her legs a lot, and she loves to stand with assistance.

Hand Control

Also from the Montessori Scope and Sequence:

  • Opens and closes hands (MD.HC.1)
  • Brings hand to mouth, explores hand with mouth (MD.HC.2)
  • Instinctive prehension evident in grasping adult finger or object offered (MD.HC.3)
  • Begins to observe own hands (MD.HC.4)
  • Swipes at objects (MD.HC.5)

So far, she’s mastered 4 of the 5 hand control goals. The only one I haven’t recorded as mastered is observing her own hands - while her grandma has said she’s seen her do this a bit, I haven’t. She’s usually looking at the thing she’s trying to grab or swipe at, not at her own hands. She’s using her hands a lot lately. She’s developed a liking for hair and grabs at my and her grandma’s hair pretty much every chance she gets, and she loves her toys. She has a rattle mobile in her play gym she likes to hit, a tactile cloth book about carrots attached to her car seat that she grabs the leaves on, and while she was sucking on her hands as a newborn and likely before birth, now she seems to do it as exploration in addition to doing it for self-soothing when hungry.

The only motor development goal that remains ongoing is observing her own hands.


Hearing & Understanding

Still with the Montessori goals, here's the ones related to Hearing and Understanding, and the one Auditory goal as well:

  • Responds to loud sounds in environment (L.H&U.1)
  • Calms or smiles in response to human voice (L.H&U.2)
  • Recognizes voice of parent or primary care-giver (L.H&U.3)
  • Moves eyes towards direction of a sound (L.H&U.4)
  • Notices objects that make a sound (L.H&U.6)
  • Responds (pays attention) to music (L.H&U.7)
  • Turns head towards direction of a sound (L.H&U.10)
  • Reacts to different sounds (VA.A.1)

This area is one of the more difficult ones for my child. After failing the newborn hearing screening in one ear, she passed her follow-up hearing test at 1 month. But her response to sounds has been a bit inconsistent. Two of these items I've marked as mastered - L.H&U.2 and L.H&U.7. She loves being spoken to, and not just because she loves eye contact and looking at faces, because she also enjoys listening to people on the phone. Her grandma has on multiple occasions helped soothe her over the phone. And today, her grandpa did it, too. She also definitely recognizes grandma's voice (L.H&U.3), but I haven't seen clear evidence for her recognizing anyone else's voice, so I'm not ready to declare this goal as mastered. The rest of these have been really inconsistent. Sometimes she reacts to loud noises, other times she doesn't seem to care. Some of her favorite toys do make noise, but it's unclear whether she's interested in them for the noise they make. And she rarely orients to noise sources. She does seem to be making progress in her responsiveness to sound, but most of these goals are still far from mastered. So, out of eight goals, six are ongoing into the 3-6 month period, and two are mastered.

Speaking & Listening: Speaking

Here were my goals for the first three months in the area of Speaking:

  • Communicates pleasure through cooing sounds (L.S.2)

  • Indicates different needs through different cries (L.S.3)

  • Smiles when seeing a familiar person (L.S.4)

  • Uses body language to communicate needs (L.S.13)

Unlike my concerns about her auditory responsiveness, her progress in expressive communication has been really good. Most of these skills are ones she has definitely mastered. She loves to coo at us and is often happy-sociable. She has a habit of bursting into a big grin as soon as you make eye contact with her, and often proceeding to coo or giggle. And when she's not happy, she's communicating that pretty clearly, too. She has distinct cries for hunger, tiredness, pain and discomfort that I can usually tell apart.

The one skill I wouldn't mark as mastered yet is L.S.13, because I interpret this one as requiring multiple modalities of nonverbal communication, and she still communicates her needs predominantly by crying. But she has begun gesturing in one context. She has a lounger that she loves, and it has a canopy that can be put up or down. She strongly prefers to have it up, and requests that we put it up when it's down by grabbing at the canopy and trying to push it upwards. So, three out of four of these skills are mastered, and the fourth she's showing progress on.

And from the Pragmatics checklist:

  • Makes requests nonverbally (1-1)

  • Requests help nonverbally (5-1)

  • Complains nonverbally (13-1)

I've marked complaining as mastered, because of her crying, grimacing and writhing or turning away when she doesn't like something. The other two she has shown some progress on, but I wouldn't call them mastered, mainly for the same reason I stated above - her means of communication aren't quite varied enough yet.

And the one Self-Determination goal relevant for this age range:

  • Have a way to communicate they need a break?

Once again, I have seen progress, but I'm not sure I'd call ths mastered yet. She whines in a very recognizable tone when she's getting tired during tummy time, spits out her bottle when she's full or sometimes when she needs to burp, and sometimes yawns and turns away when she's getting tired/overloaded while playing. However, she's still very prone to push past her limits and end up crying from tiredness, and I often need to be vigilant and prompt her to start winding down to sleep instead of her signaling the need for a break herself. This is definitely an ongoing goal.

So, in summary, there are five ongoing goals for communication:

  • Uses body language to communicate needs

  • Makes requests nonverbally (1-1)

  • Requests help nonverbally (5-1)

  • Have a way to communicate they need a break?

Meanwhile, four communication goals have been mastered.

Sensory Development

Visual/Auditory: Visual

Here's the visual sensory items. Most come from the Montessori Scope and Sequence, but the last one comes from the Visual Communication and Sign Language Checklist.

  • Displays interest in black and white mobiles. [or other visual targets] (VA.V.1)
  • Follows moving objects with eyes (VA.V.2)
  • Recognizes familiar objects and people (VA.V.3)
  • Looks at the visual environment with alertness (VCSL 14)

Of those, she's definitely mastered VCSL 14 and VA.V.1 - she's very interested in her visual environment. She was initially pretty much exclusively focused on black and white high contrast things, but lately she's been showing interest in a much greater variety of visual targets.

I think she definitely recognizes her family members, but I'm less sure about whether she recognizes familiar objects. On a couple occasions I've noticed her being wide-eyed and exploratory in new contexts, so I think she's starting to recognize what is and isn't familiar to her. But it's not clear enough for me to declare this mastered.

As for visual tracking, this seems to be particularly tough for her. Sometimes she'll jerkily follow a moving object with her eyes, but usually she loses it and needs some time to find it again. So, of the four visual sensory items, two are mastered, two are ongoing goals.


I added one of my own in this area:

  • Chew on or mouth objects with a variety of shapes and textures.

I added it because I was reading that chewing on a variety of shapes and textures can help build oral motor skills to improve the ability to latch for nursing, and on consideration, I also realized that this skill has a lot of merits as a way of exploring the environment.

When I first set this goal, she had basically no interest in mouthing anything except when she was hungry, and would spit out anything that wasn't sufficiently nipple-shaped for her liking. But that's definitely changed! In mid-July, she started developing an interest in licking a sensory ball, trapping it against her face with her arm so she could spend several minutes licking it. She's since started licking pretty much anything she can get her face to, so I've marked this as mastered.

3-6 Month Goals

Firstly, she's already mastered several skills in this age bracket:

  • Chuckles and laughs to communicate joy. (L.S.6)
  • Makes a range of gurgling sounds when playing with someone or when alone. (L.S.8)
  • Maintains a conversation nonverbally/Understands conversation turn taking. (SCS-PC 21-1/VCSL 51)
  • Shows interest when spoken to. (L.H&U.11)
  • Attends to signed motherese (VCSL 7)

She's a giggly little baby, and she definitely has conversations with us. Very often I'll say something, pause, and she'll babble in response, and then wait for me to say something again. She loves when we talk to her, and seems to recognize both verbal speech and ASL as important and worthy of her attention (I use a mix of both SimCom and signing without voicing, and sometimes my SimCom follows ASL grammar rather than English). Her own sounds are a mix of coos, gurgly wookie-like noises, and the occasional consonant sound. So, on to the ones she still needs to learn.

Life Skills


So, there's two new life skills she's working on, both pertaining to her nose:

  • Allows nose to be wiped

  • Wipes own nose on own hands or random objects

One is drawn directly from the Standards Based Life Skills Curriculum, and the other is derived by splitting one of their goals "wipes own nose" into two - the other one being "wipes own nose on appropriate nose-wiping surface", which I've set as a 3 years old goal.
She's been having a lot of congestion lately, which sucks. It causes her discomfort especially when she's trying to drink, so she's ended up crying from hunger but refusing to drink because she can't breathe through her nose. It'd really help if she had better ways to get her nose cleared when she's congested. One of the things I do to help her is wipe her nose. The first few times I did it, she screamed like I was trying to murder her, and was upset and angry for awhile afterwards. However, just recently she's starting to sometimes act okay or even happy that I'm wiping her nose. I think she's starting to realize that it's actually intended to help. Around the same time, she's also started trying to wipe her own nose. She sometimes wipes it with her hands, but most often tries to wipe it on my shirt, or occasionally the cover on her play gym or any other cloth she can get her face to. So she's showing progress on both of these skills, but I'm not ready to declare them mastered yet. My plans for this area are pretty much just to keep wiping her nose when it needs wiping and hope she learns to be more cooperative with it over time.

Motor Development


Under equilibrium, the Montessori Scope and Sequence has the following for 3-6 month olds:

  • Begins to roll over, turning from front to back. (MD.E.7)
  • Begins to roll both ways. (MD.E.8)
  • Pushes up on extended arms. (MD.E.9)
  • Scoots along floor using arms and legs to propel body forwards. (MD.E.10)
  • Attempts to kick a ball without standing. (MD.E.33-1)

The last of that list, like the nose-wiping goal above, is the result of splitting a skill into two subskills. The original is "attempts to kick a ball", an item for 1 year olds. I split it depending upon whether or not the child is weight-bearing on their legs while kicking, because my child has recently started kicking a ball while in an assisted sitting position, and also kicks in tummy time and on her back.

Rolling is an interesting one, because she's actually regressed a bit. She rolled front to back starting in mid-June and continuing to late July, but hasn't done so in several weeks. I have two theories about why. She hit her head a few times while rolling, which was upsetting and painful for her, so she might be afraid to try to roll. In addition, she has gotten less top-heavy as she's put on weight, so it might be harder for her to roll since she can't pull her whole body over with the weight of her head anymore. Either way, rolling remains an ongoing goal. The other two skills she's nowhere near doing yet, though she's clearly very motivated to learn how to scoot, judging by how she moves in tummy time. Speaking of which, tummy time is my main plan for how to encourage further development in this area. One thing I haven't tried yet because it'd be too frustrating for her now, but I plan to try when I think she's ready, is putting a toy she wants just out of reach in front of her in tummy time. I also plan to continue playing with her in an assisted sitting position.

Hand Control

I have three items from the Montessori Scope and Sequence, and three of my own. First, the Montessori goals:

  • Purposeful grasping and shaking of objects. (MD.HC.6)
  • Uses whole hand, raking grasp. (MD.HC.7)
  • Co-ordinates use of both hands working together. (MD.HC.18)

The last one is supposed to be intended for much older children, but she's started holding objects two-handed occasionally, so I figured it's developmentally appropriate for her.

As for the other two, she's definitely been grasping objects purposefully, but I don't think she's deliberately shaking things. She's just not coordinated enough to actually choose whether or not to shake things yet. She also doesn't seem to have a raking grasp yet, it's more like she opens her hand, touches something and then closes her hand and hopes it grabs the thing.
And now, my three:
  • Brings hands together.
  • Reaching a hand across the center of their torso during intentional manual activities.
  • Frees up hands enough to touch or grasp an object while lying on their stomach.
All of these were added because I saw her starting to do them and realized that I didn't have an appropriate item to capture the accomplishment. I wouldn't describe any of them as mastered, yet, but she's grabbing things in tummy time a lot. The other two items I've only seen once.

Now that she can use her hands in tummy time, that’s definitely going to be part of my plan for encouraging her hand use. Her best position for hand use is flat on her back, so mobiles have been and will continue to be offered for playtime on a regular basis. I have a bunch of toys that I can attach to her mobiles and rotate between them, and a mobile at home and at our family business for her to play with. (Unfortunately the one at the family business is too high for her to reach the toys it came with, but I’m planning to rig up something to get the toys to hang lower.) I also recently tried offering her one of our cat’s toys, a cat wand, and she seemed interested in it, too. Could also have the side benefit of helping acclimate our cat to her by encouraging the cat to play near the baby, though I’ll have to watch carefully to avoid the cat accidentally hurting my baby with a poorly-timed pounce. She’s also got two cloth books attached to her car seat that she loves to grab at. I checked into the safety of attaching toys to a car seat and found that it’s generally safe as long as the toys pass the “ouch” test - that is, if you hit yourself in the head with that toy, you don’t need to say ouch! She’s been grabbing her carrot book a lot, as I discuss in more detail below, and I think she’s working on trying to turn the pages on both books. In addition, I’ve noticed her starting to sometimes use her hands while assisted sitting, though she’s still too unsteady to do much with them in that position.


In this area, only a few new goals are being added. First, in Hearing and Understanding:

  • Responds to changes in tone of voice. (L.H&U.5)
  • Responds with enjoyment to simple word and movement games and finger-plays. (L.H&U.9)
  • Responds to an adult "pointing" at something. (L.H&U.15)

The last two are redundant with two items on the Visual Communication and Sign Language Checklist. I've been considering marking L.H&U.9 mastered, because she really does enjoy simple interactive games like that, but I think I'll wait for a greater variety of examples. The other two she hasn't really shown any signs of so far.

And in Speaking and Listening:

  • Babbling begins to resemble more mature speech and contains some consonants (p, b, m). (L.S.5)
  • Vocalizes other emotions such as excitement and displeasure. (L.S.7)
  • Responds to spoken "bye-bye" by waving. (L.S.9)

As I've mentioned above, she makes a lot of happy sounds. However, her only unhappy sounds so far are crying sounds, so I'm waiting on more varied displeasure noises for L.S.7. She's also babbling with g and m noises, but no other consonants yet, and she still coos and gurgles more than she makes actual consonant-vowel babbles.

The one she hasn't shown any signs of yet is responding to spoken "bye-bye". I should also mention that this is the first skill I've looked at that could be mastered separately in different languages, and I will be assessing this for all four of the spoken languages I'm trying to teach her - English, French, Dutch and Japanese. I'll count basic mastery if she does this in any language, and full mastery if she can do it in all of them.

There's also one new Social Pragmatics Checklist item:

  • Nonverbally uses appropriate social rules such as greetings, farewells, thank you, getting attention

She smiles in greeting at people, but otherwise hasn't really shown this yet.

And in addition to the items that are redundant with the above items, there's a bunch of items from the VCSL that are now relevant:

  • Hand babbling emerges (ex: opens and closing hands, wiggles fingers, wrist twist) (VCSL 2)
  • Waves "bye-bye" (VCSL 3)
  • Copies physical movements involving the arms, hands, head, and face (VCSL 4)
  • Distinguishes facial expressions (ex: anger or friendliness) (VCSL 8)
  • Joint reference (ex: parent and child look at same object) (VCSL 9)
  • Participates in communicative play (ex: peek-a-boo) (VCSL 10)

VCSL 10 is basically the expressive version of L.H&U.9. However, it's easier to justify not marking it as mastered yet, because she responds to most communicative games in basically the same way she responds to any positive social interaction - smiling, giggling and babbling. For me to mark VCSL 10 mastered, I'd want to see unique responses to different games. As I mentioned in a blog post recently, in June she did some motions which could be interpreted either as sign babbling or as communicative meaningful signs. However, she's stopped doing those, and I haven't really seen much progress in sign babbling or expressive signing lately. I will be watching for it, though. She's been copying facial expressions inconsistently, but her motor skills are still so limited that it's hard to really see much imitation yet. She once tried to pet the cat right after seeing me pet him, though. It's hard to say if she understands facial expressions, with the exception of smiling - she pretty consistently smiles back if you smile at her. She's not waving at all yet and I haven't seen any joint attention, except for one occasion when we were playing a game of knocking over a tactile book. So these are still ongoing. Note that VCSL 3 is similar to L.S.9, but I'm going to treat it as spontaneous waving or waving in response to signed farewells, as opposed to waving in response to speech. For communication, mostly I’m just talking and signing a lot in general, and responding to her attempts to communicate. This week I’m also doing a challenge where I picked five activities we do together every day, and I’ve randomly assigned a different language to each activity for each day of the week. I did this because I was starting to feel like I was getting into a rut with stimulation in non-English languages for her, and it’s been really pushing my limits in Dutch and Japanese in particular. The five activities, by the way, are face-to-face interaction, tummy time, dressing, watching a video and reading a book.

Sensory Development

There's only one new item in this area, specifically a Tactile item:

  • Explores textures. (GOT.T.2)

Just recently, she's been getting really interested in this. She has a cloth book about carrots that has protruding leaves from the top made of velvety cloth, and she's fascinated with them and also with the crinkly cloth of the book itself. She's also been touching the crinkly cloth on the "making sounds" center of her Lovevery play gym. And yesterday, when her stroller finally arrived (it was supposed to arrive two months before her birth, but that's a whole other story!) she was exploring the sides of it with her hands as I was pushing her back and forth in an attempt to soothe her. (Yesterday was a very tough day for her and she fussed and cried most of the day.) Most of the stuff I mentioned in the hand control section is also helpful for exploring textures, so I’ve basically already discussed everything I plan to do for this goal.


This is a new subject area, containing two items from the Montessori Scope and Sequence:

  • Finds a partially hidden object. (OPE.OP.1)
  • Purposefully attempts to reach objects that are out of reach. (OPE.OP.2)

She's shown some progress on trying to reach things that are out of reach, but she's still pretty limited there. She's enjoyed peek-a-boo with me a few times, and once she was fussing right after her ball got hidden behind the cloth cover on her play gym and was happier when I retrieved it for her. So I'd say she's making progress on both of these skills.

I've classified these both under science because to my view, these are both very early milestones in physics understanding.

My plans for object permanence are to continue with peek-a-boo and try reintroducing the Montessori object permanence box I got for her. I tried to show it to her before and she had no interest in it, but I’m pretty sure she was just too young for it. The Lovevery play gym also has a pocket for hiding things in and I’m looking forward to trying that out soon.

For reaching objects out of reach, the activity I described earlier of putting stuff just out of reach during tummy time would be a good opportunity to practice that. She also sometimes knocks her toys out of reach herself while playing, and I plan to wait and see if she can get them herself if she’s not too frustrated.

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Blogger Adelaide Dupont said...

I seem to recall that at 4 months corrected preterm babies are calmed and pay attention to voices which are not the primary caregiver's.

[and 2 months would have been more "typical"? Sarah Coiner has been making lots of "developmentalist" posts].

And I probably will ask about rolling over and turning around.

Head control IS very important.

Happy three months to Baby!

And the Science goals.

Observing own hands...

Something seems to have happened with the formatting and editing from a text document into the Blogger world.

Blogger has changed their system within the last few months [certainly since I have been blogging the Wordless Wednesday].

the listening goals seem to have been going great.

And the potty goal being for you...

They have clearly learnt a lot between 3 weeks and 3 months...

3:55 AM  

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