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Watching your baby grow: Milestones at 4 months

infant development

Watching our babies grow is a BEAUTIFUL thing to witness. Every day and every month our babies change and grow into more aware and alert tiny people. So many things change so quickly within the first year and every change produces a new challenge and a new joy. 4 months is a big deal as our babies become so much more aware of their big world. In this post, let’s dive into milestones at 4 months. 

Before 4 months, our babies are more passive consumers of their environment. Meaning, they take in their world only using a few senses. These senses, before 4 months, may include sight, sound, and touch. Our babies are solely focused on survival in the early stages of infancy, but around the 4 month mark our babies become much more alert. They begin to take in their environment in new ways, becoming more strong in their motor skills, more exploratory with their hands, and more aware of the caregivers in their area. Let’s walk through 4 HUGE changes that you may find with your baby at 4 months.

Increased desire to roll over

At 4 months, your baby is finding different ways to move their body and this may look like an increased desire to roll over. Your baby may begin to grasp their feet at this age, roll side to side from their bakc, reach for toys above head and across body, and attempt to reach a toy at a nearby distance. These are all signs for your baby’s increased desire to interact with their enviornment.

At the 4 month mark, our babies are learning that they can control their tiny body in many ways and every movement they make builds a foundation for strength. At this age, it’s important to encourage 4 month old milestones by being strategic in play. You can begin to place toys in places that encourage your baby to move. For example, placing a toy to your baby’s side within sight, but not within arms length. This may encourage your baby to attempt to roll back to belly.

You also may find that rolling belly to back becomes tricky at this age. Your baby may have rolled belly to back with their elbows underneath their body before, and then suddenly they are stopped. Tummy time changes at this age, and your baby becomes a lot more tolerate with their arms out in front of their body during tummy time. This change in tummy time teaches our babies a new way to roll belly to back making tummy time more tolerable. When encouraging this new way to roll belly to back, help your baby by shifting their weight to one side and rolling over with an arm straight in front. See a post here for a visual example.

Rolling both ways is a huge achievement when thinking about milestones at 4 months, but don’t be alarmed if your baby doesn’t begin rolling at this age! They are becoming more interested in moving their body to achieve rolling, and that’s the most important part!

Increased hand skills

At the 4 month mark, you may find your baby begins to grasp items and bring more things to mouth. This is their way of continuing to explore their environment and is a wonderful activity to develop more purposeful hand skills.

When choosing toys at this age to increase your baby’s desire to use their hands, choose toys that are easy to grasp. O-ball style rattles, wrist rattles, and other easily grasp items are perfect at this age. Find some hand based toys for this age here. At this age, increase hand skills can also be seen through the shift in tummy time position as discussed in the previous section. It is very hard for our baby to explore their environment with their hands if their arms are underneath their chest, so placing their hands out in front while baby is on their belly will encourage hand usage and exploration.

Increased hand skills at this age will also lead to readiness for solids. Some pediatricians give parents the okay to introduce solids as early as 4 months due to strong head control, increase hand skills, and interest at meal time. It’s amazing to think of how many things that change between 0 and 4 months, but our babies are really learning so much and continuing to become more active participants in their world.

More attentive to their environment

Being a more active participant in the world means more attention to the environment. Our babies at the 4 month mark, are beginning to see things from afar and may notice a caregiver from across the room. At this age, our babies also begin to attend to the toys in their area, and begin to become more social. Those sweet smiles are becoming more purposeful and they are sure to melt your heart!

When discussing milestones at 4 months, it’s important to bring your baby’s attention to various things in their environment. Try labeling items with your baby to expose them to early language, read books to them to encourage language and complex visual development, and begin to play games with your baby like pee-a-boo and this little piggy with their tiny toes. You can also tickle your baby and listen to their little giggle or belly laugh at this age. All of these activities are fostering social and language skills to support your baby’s milestone development at 4 months.

Remember every baby is different, and every baby is going to develop at their own pace. Your baby may be more aware and more social, while other babies are more active and rolling well at this age. Be patient with your baby and look for opportunities to encourage your baby to explore their environment in multiple ways at this age.

Sleep regressions

This is a BIG one. Everyone talks about the 4 month sleep regression, and this is something I heard a lot about when my son was around 4 months old. I am no sleep expert, but I do understand that sleep is interrupted during large cognitive leaps, motor skill development, and the changing in rhythms and routines. So much is changing to encourage our babies to meet their milestones at 4 months, so no wonder their sleep is also affected.

When we look back at all the things that are changing about our babies, we see the reasons for the regressions in sleep at this age. Our babies are becoming more aware of their environment and body so may have a harder time settled down to sleep. They are beginning to explore new motor and hand skills, so they are busy exploring and have no time for sleep! Whether your baby has a sleep regression before, right at, or after 4 months, this regression is likely due to the same reasons - more awareness and attentiveness. These developments are definitely going to lead to an interruption in rest.

If your baby has begun to roll at this age, then you may also find their sleep is interrupted because they suddenly find themselves in a totally new position. Be sure to practice lots of rolling during the day so your baby does not become startled if they do decide to flip onto their belly from their back to sleep.

Lastly, sleep may be interrupted due to the need for increased volume at feedings. You may find your baby has an increased apetetite at this age because they are burning many more calories now that they are more active. You may find that your baby requires less frequent feedings, but more ounces during the feeding. This shift in feeding schedule can also cause disruptions in sleep and this is very normal. Based on the Moms on Call schedule, our babies may move from 5-7 feedings per day at 5-6 ounces to 4-5 feedings per day at 6-8 ounces around the 4 month mark.

There are so many things to look for when you think about milestones at 4 months. These changes are so exciting, but it’s also important to understand what to expect. That’s my job — to educate you in helping you understand your baby better so you can be confident in supporting your infant’s development. Enjoy this time and all the stages to come!

Thanks for reading!

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