4-Month-Old Baby:Putting Some Personality on Display
Your 4-month-old baby is more alert, active, and engaging than ever. Enjoy this time as you find out more about his unique personality, and watch him build the strength and skills he needs for exciting feats like sitting, reaching, and rolling!
Baby Development Milestones
Now that you have a 4-month-old baby you may find life slightly less hectic as you work with some established daily routines. But, that little one is probably still keeping you on your toes, and that's to be expected! Now, and for the next few months, he's busy honing his newfound motor skills and will eventually be fully able to grasp things, roll over, and sit up on his own. The best is yet to come: Read on to find out more about what to look forward to this month.
Growth and Physical Development: Steady and Strong
Your 4-month-old baby is probably continuing his fast pace of growth (about 1 to 1 ¼ pounds per month), but remember that a steady rate of growth is more important than any specific gains in weight or length. You may want to learn more about how your pediatrician will use baby growth charts to track your baby's growth. There's a lot of cognitive and physical development taking place now, and you’re probably about to start seeing more deliberate actions from your baby as he learns concepts like cause and effect.
Senses: Developing Distance Vision
The world around your baby is coming into focus, literally, as his distance vision steadily improves. He may start to recognize you and other familiar faces at a distance, and he can easily follow moving objects with his eyes from side to side. His color vision is also improving, so you may notice he seems to favor shades of red and blue. Another source of endless visual fascination for your 4-month-old baby? Himself! An unbreakable mirror is a great toy for infants this age, as they can see a wide range of colors and shapes as well as their own movements reflected back at them.
It's not only his sense of sight that's maturing, but also his language skills, thanks to improved hearing and cognitive development. He may be able to mimic some of the rhythms, tones, and patterns of some of the words you speak to him, and his cries may sound different based on his various needs. It may sound like baby babble now, but he's building a solid foundation for later speech.
Movement: Almost on a Roll
Four-month-old baby movement is all about muscle control and hand-eye coordination. If you notice more and more objects making their way to your little one's mouth, that's because with his vision improving, he's able to do this more successfully — just be careful of what's within his reach. He can probably grab and shake toys and rattles now and may soon be able to pass objects from one hand to another.
Your little guy is almost on the move! He's still working on strengthening his back and chest muscles, and he's also working on holding his head up while on his tummy. Before long he'll have the body strength to roll over from one side to the other.
4-Month-Old Baby Development Milestones
Your baby may be doing some of the following at this point:
Holding his head up independently
Bringing his hands to his mouth
Sitting up with support
Reaching for and grabbing objects of interest.
Personality: Getting to Know Your Little One
At 4 months old, your baby's increased mobility and cognitive awareness make him even more curious about the world around him. He'll also likely become more sensitive to your tone of voice. Your soft, gentle voice soothes and reassures him, while a harsher, more angry tone will let him know something is wrong. And, he's also likely to imitate your tone in his coos and babbles. He may be able to mimic certain sounds or syllables long before he's able to form real words.
But what if your baby doesn't seem to be so easy-going or inquisitive? That's OK, too. Sometimes babies who seem to be more shy need more comfort and attention from their caregivers. Watch to see if your baby seems overwhelmed, overstimulated, or withdrawn in certain situations, and give him time to get comfortable with any new faces or new activities in his life.
How to Support Your Baby's Development
You may pick up some ways to help foster your baby's development from your pediatrician or from other parents, but here are some 4-month-old baby activities to help get you started.
To encourage visual development:
Hang a colorful mobile over his crib, making sure it is safely beyond his reach.
Let him marvel at his image and movements in a mirror.
Play peekaboo to help him learn about object permanence. He loves seeing your face appear and reappear!
To promote movement and motor control:
Do tummy time. Lifting his head and chest while on his tummy (with you close at hand) will strengthen those muscles needed for rolling over and sitting.
Practice sitting. With your support in this position, he has a better range of motion to reach for and grab objects.
Practice standing. While holding your baby under his arms, pull him into a standing position to help him work those leg muscles.
To aid language development:
Read and sing to him.
Mimic his sounds.
Respond positively when he mimics yours.
Feeding Your 4-Month-Old Baby
At 4 months old, your baby is still getting all his nutritional needs met from breast milk, formula, or a combination of the two. The best way to know when it’s time to feed your baby is to watch for signs that he is hungry. These clues include if your baby is licking his lips, sticking his tongue out, is acting fussy, or is sucking on his knuckles. As a general guideline, your baby may need about four to six ounces of milk every three to five hours. You'll still want to track your baby's wet and dirty diapers as well as stool frequency and consistency to make sure he's getting enough to eat. Your healthcare provider will also check that your baby is eating enough by tracking his growth over time.
One thing won’t change for a while yet: Your baby will need lots and lots of comfy diapers. Download the Pampers Rewards app, if you haven't already, to get rewards and discounts on all those diapers.
How Much Sleep Does a 4-Month-Old Baby Need?
The average 4-month-old baby needs between 12 and 16 hours of sleep every day. This may mean two daytime naps (morning and afternoon for three to four hours each) and a longer stretch of sleep at night.
Now that your baby is more active and alert during the day, winding down in the evening can be more of a challenge. Stick to a bedtime routine; you may find that a warm bath, gentle massage, rocking, or feeding may be just what he needs to help him fall asleep.
Your Baby's Health: Common Infections
If your baby is coughing or has other symptoms, such as fever, it's worth knowing about several health conditions and illnesses that might crop up at this stage, and when to reach out to the doctor:
A fever usually indicates illness. In infants, a rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit and higher is considered a fever, and may mean your little one is currently fighting some kind of infection. A fever can indicate many different types of infection, from colds or flu to ear infections or even pneumonia, so it's best to call your doctor for advice and to watch for other symptoms of illness.
To take your baby's temperature accurately, use a digital thermometer and measure the temperature in her rectum. Gently insert the device no more than 1/2 inch to 1 inch, and wait until it beeps or lights up to give you an accurate reading.
Also known as an upper respiratory infection, a cold is caused by a virus. Colds are very common (most children will have 8 to 10 colds in their first two years) and highly contagious. Take precautions if your baby is in child care or if you have older, school-aged children at home. You're probably familiar with some of the most obvious signs of a cold, including a runny nose, sneezing, mild fever, cough, low appetite, and sore throat, but contact your pediatrician if your baby shows any of these symptoms:
bluish lips or fingertips
persistent cough (lasting longer than one week)
being extra sleepy or fussy
temperature over 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
Another common viral illness is bronchiolitis, which is an infection of the breathing tubes of the lungs. It's highly contagious, so be especially vigilant about hand-washing and other methods of hygiene during the fall and winter months, when infections are likely to spread. If you notice any of the following signs, contact your pediatrician right away if your baby:
wheezes when breathing
can't drink fluids
has bluish lips or fingertips
shows symptoms of dehydration.
FAQs at a Glance
Can I give my 4-month-old baby food? No (unless your healthcare provider tells you otherwise). Experts generally recommend only breast milk or formula until six months of age. Around then, you may notice that your baby’s tongue-thrusts are subsiding, that she can hold her head up independently, and that she seems interested in the foods you’re eating, which are some of the signs she's ready for solid foods.
What toys are appropriate for a 4-month-old baby?
musical toys or rattles
toys with fingerholds to encourage gripping.
When will my baby sleep through the night without feeding? At 4 months old, some babies will sleep through the night without waking for feeding. Breastfed babies may still need a nighttime feeding from time to time.
What are the symptoms of dehydration in babies? For infants, fewer than six wet diapers per day can indicate dehydration. (Far fewer than six can indicate severe dehydration.) Also look out for fewer tears when crying as well as sunken eyes and a soft spot on the head. If the dehydration is caused by diarrhea, you may find loose stools, and if it's caused by vomiting or other fluid loss, you may find fewer bowel movements, in general.
How will I know when my baby starts teething? Every baby is different when it comes to teething timing and symptoms, but the first few teeth could start to show up as early as this month. Sprouting teeth is sometimes accompanied by irritability, low-grade fever, excessive drooling, and swollen, tender gums.
Your Life as a Parent: Family Ties
A new baby brings lots of changes for a family. From aunts and uncles to cousins and grandparents, everyone wants to feel included and connected with the newest family member. This is an ideal time to get your loved ones involved in caring for the baby. Set aside special tasks they can do to help you with the baby, either at mealtime, bathtime, or playtime. As a new parent, you'll find it helpful to have your parents, in-laws, or other relatives pitch in with things like cleaning, shopping, and child care for your older kids. It will take some of the pressure off you and help everyone feel like part of the family.
One of the overwhelming parts of becoming a new parent is the torrent of advice you may get from well-meaning relatives or friends and even complete strangers! Learning to handle unwanted advice can be tricky. Keep in mind that in many cases, there is no one “right way” to raise a child. Pay attention to your child’s cues, and try to make decisions based on your child’s unique personality, your beliefs, and your specific circumstances. Above all, if you have any questions or concerns, turn to your baby’s pediatrician for expert advice, or ask trusted loved ones for their insights.