Your Baby at 4 Months Old
As your baby enters the fourth month, he or she has made it through their first quarter of a year—HOW EXCITING! The chattering increases sharply, and the laughs abound. The stronger your baby’s muscles become, the more you will notice attempts to push up and try to become mobile. Here are some fun ways that your baby will change over the next month!
The physical changes in the first year are spectacular, to say the least. The fourth month sees some exciting changes. Enjoy this time with your baby; you will never see changes like the first year.
You are likely going to notice your baby rolling from tummy to back or back to tummy. Some babies even start to roll all the way around. When this happens, prepare to chase him or her around the house. Babies will try to roll into the most inconvenient places.
Hand-Eye Coordination Increases
Purposeful movements happen more frequently during the fourth month, and the brighter the object, the better! Your baby will love reaching for toys hanging from the playmat or crib mobiles.
Leg strength and purposeful leg movements increase during this time as well. Your baby will push down when his or her feet touch the floor or other surface. While standing and walking are a few months off, this is an excellent time to begin practice.
Hand-eye coordination is increasing, as we mentioned, but your baby is also learning to control intentional movements. Head control, upper body control, and eye control are evident in children at this age.
Like physical development, cognitive development sees remarkable changes right now. Children are amazing creatures, and watching these changes will be mesmerizing. Much of your child’s development will be social and emotional right now.
Sounds become more like words and sentences. Babbling will last all day, it seems. Your baby will also use facial expressions as if talking to you about important things. It is crucial that you continue talking to him or her to model language. Cries may also become different depending on what they want or need. Communication changes can seem miraculous at times.
These skills are improving in much the same way they have been in recent months. However, like all skills, they seem to be strengthened exponentially right now. The smiles become more spontaneous. Playing will become more intentional and desired. Lack of attention will be frustrating. If the baby is laughing and playing and the interaction stops, he or she may start to cry or fuss. Mimicking is also more intentional and similar to the facial movements of others.
Your baby will start to watch your every move. He or she may also start investigating how toys move or bend. Likewise, he or she will start to recognize and watch other people. Eye movement may occur without head movement as well.
Sleep is critical for cognitive development. At this point, the day/ night pattern should be reasonably well developed. Children will still sleep many hours of the day, but awake times are much more active, and six hours of sleep overnight is not uncommon. An average of sixteen hours is typical at this stage.
Preferred Play Positions
Your baby may start to dislike tummy time. However, continuing to provide some time on the tummy will build core strength. If you are having considerable trouble with tummy time (baby rolls right over), consider cooperative tummy time. Get down on the floor with the baby.
Though you are often there to take care of your baby’s needs, he or she will begin to self-soothe—which is a great thing. Your baby needs to learn some self-reliance. Self-soothing is often done through sounds and hand sucking. If your baby is relatively noisy, you might find that he or she is self-soothing.
As your baby continues to develop, there may be some areas of concern. As we often say, always talk to your doctor if you are concerned. Do not take these things as medical advice. These suggestions are only for reference, and your physician will know your child better than we do.
Smiling is a skill that children have usually by the fourth month of life. If your baby is not smiling, you might want to talk to your doctor.
Children should be babbling or cooing at this point. If you do not notice intentional sounds, don’t be immediately concerned. Sometimes children are just not as vocal as others. Your friend’s baby may have been very vocal, and yours is quieter. Often, you are unaware that he or she is talking the right amount. Voice your concerns to your pediatrician.
If your child seems unable to look in one direction or another, you should discuss the issue with your doctor. Pediatric ophthalmologists are accustomed to dealing with visual issues. If you are concerned, talk to your doctor about a referral.
Pep Talk for Mom and Dad
You are doing a great job. Your baby is growing fast, and it can be dizzying for parents. Do not feel bad if you suspect a delay in your child. Talking to your doctor can often dispel any concerns. Likewise, if there is a problem, your doctor will know what to do next. Parents feel nervous that they are not doing enough. This is the best time. You need to keep playing with your baby to develop healthy minds and bodies.