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Your baby’s first year of life is a time of rapid growth and development. By now you’ve already seen your sleepy newborn transition into an alert and curious infant.
These next few months, your baby will start interacting and playing even more!
Learn about baby milestones at 4 months and activities to help your baby develop on track.
Baby Milestones at 4 Months
By 4 months of age, babies spend more time awake and exploring their environment. They’re still growing rapidly, but able to sleep longer stretches at night (hopefully!)
The following milestones are based on guidelines published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Remember,
Milestones help us evaluate if babies are developing on track and learning at the right pace.
If you’re ever concerned that your baby is not meeting milestones, speak with your pediatrician.
Early intervention is key if there are any issues. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask for help whenever you are unsure.
4-Month-Old Baby Milestones:
- Social Smiles
- Recognizes Familiar Faces
- Understand Object Permanence
- Enjoys interacting with parents
By 4 months, your baby will be smiling frequently and they’ll start to share social smiles. This means if you smile at them, they’ll try to copy you and smile back.
Also, 4-month-olds begin to recognize familiar faces. If Mom or Dad leaves for work, babies will recognize you each time you return.
For you working parents, this makes coming home so much better! You will be greeted with a big toothless grin and excitement every evening!
4-month olds understand object permanence, the concept that things exist even if they don’t see them. When you leave for work, your little one understands that you still exist even if you’re not right there.
Additionally, 4-month-olds are more aware of your attention. Your little one enjoys interacting and playing with you. They might even become fussy if you aren’t paying enough attention.
They love their parents and familiar caregivers and want to imitate and play with you.
- Makes Different Vowel Sounds
- Different Types of Cries
By 4 months old, babies start babbling and making different vowel sounds. They practice using different pitches and making different noises.
At this age, your little one will also start to communicate with different cries. You’ll soon be able to tell if a cry means they’re hungry, if they’re hurt, or if they’re just bored.
Pay close attention to the pitch and intensity of your little one’s cries and learn what they need or are asking for. This is the first step of communicating with your baby!
Fine Motor Skills
- Reach and grab toys
- Shake Toys
- Start Bring Hand to Mouth
Your little one is finally ready to hold toys by 4 months of age. They can use one arm to reach out and try to grab toys.
Also, during tummy time they’ll try to reach for toys that are within view. This is a great time to keep small soft toys around that their little fingers can hold.
Also, by 4 months, your little one will learn how to shake toys. They will use their arms to swing and shake toys around.
Get ready with the baby wipes because your baby will start putting everything in their mouths. By 4 months, babies learn how to bring their hands to their mouths. Once they figure this out, everything will end up there.
Gross Motor Skills
- Hold Head Up and Look Around
- Roll from Stomach to Back
- Push Up Onto Elbows
By 4-months of age, your little one should have a lot of control and strength in their neck. They should be able to hold their head independently and look around.
If you keep up with your tummy time, your 4 month old might start rolling from their stomach to their back. The first time it happens your little one might be startled, but they’ll soon get the hang of it.
Be sure to stay close to your 4 month old and never leave them unattended on any high surfaces or changing tables. They’re officially mobile and can easily fall and get hurt.
Also, when your baby is lying on their stomachs, they should be able to push up to their elbows. They’re building upper body strength in preparation for crawling in the coming months.
At 4 months old, your baby still requires a lot of sleep. They should be sleeping an average of 14 hours per day including at least 3 naps per day.
Hopefully, by now your little one should be sleeping longer stretches at night too. Some 4 months old can sleep up to 8 hours at a time.
If you’re not there yet, don’t stress. As your baby continues to grow, they’ll be able to go longer stretches without eating.
Your baby should still be sharing a room with you at this point since they’re not quite out of the window for SIDS. Also, 4-month-olds should still be placed on their backs to sleep without any toys, pillows, or objects in their beds.
At this point, your baby should still be exclusively fed breast milk or formula. Your baby can go longer stretches without eating, but should be consuming about 4-6 ounces each feeding for a total of 20-30 ounces per day depending on your baby’s size.
However, 4-month-olds typically hit a growth spurt however, so you may find that for about a week this may not be enough. Listen to your baby’s cues and if they’re still hungry and begging for more, give them more.
Babies are very intuned with their hunger levels and know how much they need.
Typically between 4-6 months of age, your baby’s first tooth will make an appearance. Teething is a very different experience for every baby.
Some babies don’t seem to notice at all while others are fussy, constipated, and upset for a few days. Also, you might find your little one has a low-grade fever (99-100) while teething.
Provide extra love and patience during this time. Be prepared for a temporary sleep regression if your little one’s very uncomfortable.
Activities for Your 4-Month-Old-Baby
Now that we know all about the development of your 4-month-old, let’s see how to play with your baby.
4-month-old babies are awake more hours during the day and ready to start holding toys and interacting with others. They crave your attention and love seeing familiar faces.
Time together is invaluable, so make sure to turn off technology and play together. Help them reach their milestones with these 4-month-old activities.
Tummy time is an important activity for all babies. By 4 months old, your little one will be strong enough to push themselves up onto their arms.
A lot of babies do not enjoy tummy time, especially if they don’t have anything to look at or play with. Try to get down on their level and even lie on your stomach too.
Get creative and try to keep practicing tummy time multiple times per day. This helps your baby develop more upper body strength and prepare to crawl in the coming months.
Peek A Boo
Peek a Boo is a fun activity for 4-month-olds. Now that they understand object permanence, they will look for you if you hide behind a toy or your hands.
They will likely squeal with delight once you reappear since they love their caregivers.
Activity mats are excellent companions for this age group.
By 4 months, your little one will also love to practice reaching for the toys above and swing their arms to move them around.
Our favorite activity mat has toys that are dangling for time on their back, plus low hanging toys and mirrors for tummy time.
Once your little one learns how to grab objects, they’re ready for rattles. They’ll get a kick out of making noise all by themselves.
Look for small and soft rattles that their tiny hands can grasp. Babies are still a little clumsy with their movements, so try to find rattles that won’t hurt them if they accidentally hit themselves.
We loved this Oball rattle because it was squishy, small, and very fun!
Around four months of age, the first teeth will start popping up. Teethers are a necessity for this age group.
Also, 4-month-olds learn how to bring objects to their mouths, and everything ends up in there!
Look for toys that are safe and puncture
We love Sophie the Giraffe, especially this smaller one. This is a perfect size for small hands to grasp and is made out of safe rubber and food-grade paint. You don’t have to worry about harmful exposure with these.
Reading is my favorite activity for every aged baby and child. By 4 months, your little one’s vision has improved and they are more alert and aware of their environment.
4-month-olds have a relatively short attention span, so books for this age should be simple and short. Board books that teach new vocabulary words about animals, body parts, or bedtime are fun and helpful.
Also, 4-month-olds love to use their hands to learn. Touch and feel books are excellent for this age.
Best Books for 4 Month Olds:
See, Touch, Feel: A First Sensory Book by Priddy Books
Where is Baby’s Belly Button? By Karen Katz
Goodnight Sophie by DK
Baby Animals Touch and Feel by Priddy Books
Make Silly Faces
4-month-olds will love trying to imitate mom and dad’s faces. They want to interact with you and love your attention.
Look directly at them and smile, frown, or stick your tongue out. See what your little one is able to imitate.
I recommend speaking to your baby from day one. Language development begins in the womb and continues to develop long before speech.
It may feel silly at first, but get in the practice of narrating what you are doing with your baby. Let them know that you are going to change their diaper, change clothes, or if it’s time for bed.
Additionally, converse with your baby. If your little one makes a long “aaa” sound, make it back to them. They will love the attention and will try to hold a conversation with you.
Now that your little one is able to grab and hold toys, try playing with different balls and blocks. Roll it to them while they are on their stomachs and have them practice reaching.
You can also sit with your baby on your lap and roll a ball to your partner. Their eyes will watch intently as the ball rolls across the floor.
Look for balls that are soft and squishy so small hands can easily grab them. we love this Infantino Balls and Blocks set. They provide fun for months to come as your baby chews on the toys, plays with the balls, and learns to build with blocks in the coming months.
Play in Different Positions
4-month-olds are not ready to sit up on their own yet, but they are ready to play in different positions. As soon as neck strength is developed, you can practice propping them up in your laps or with your Boppy Pillow.
There are many different baby accessories that can help babies sit up. Baby floor seats are actually not recommended because it can delay the typical progression of muscle development required to sit independently.
When they are placed in these seats, their muscles are not engaged and they are passively sitting.
Instead, try playing with your baby in different positions including tummy time, on their backs, in your lap, or in a supportive swing that allows them to see their surroundings.
Listen to Music and Play Instruments
Now that your little one can hold onto rattles and toys, have fun playing along to music! 4 month olds will have fun dancing along with you while you shake rattles together.
Also, soft baby pianos are fun toys as they learn how to control their arms better. They will be excited to see that they made the piano play and will try over and over.
In the first 4 months of life, your little one has now transitioned from a sleepy newborn, to a curious, playful infant. Keep them stimulated and provide as many learning and exploring opportunities as possible.
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