Baby Development: Your 4-Month Old
At four months old, your baby is fully bordering the adaptation period and they start to speed up their emotional and psychological development. Their digestive system is finally adjusted to the life outside the mother’s womb and annoying stomach cramps no longer should disturb your little son or daughter. Now your baby is going to get even smarter and explore this world more every day, and will unintentionally impress everyone around them.
During the fourth month of life your baby keeps gaining some weight as his physical activity isn’t very high yet. They can increase their weight up to 750g. According to the statistics, a healthy size for the four month old baby is:
Weight – 6-7 (+-1)kg
New skills of four month old
Presence of the skills below indicates that your four month old baby is going through the normal physical development of their age:
- Your baby can easily turn from lying on his back to lying on his sides and tummy, they can hold their head up while leaning on their palms.
- They can manage to sit down if you’re pulling up their hands, holding their neck confidently, but keep in mind that their back isn’t strong enough yet, that’s why teaching them to sit is too early.
- If you are holding their arm-pits, they can push off the surface with their toes.
- Hands of the babies at this age become stronger and hypertonicity is gone (though it may still stay in the legs). Their palms are open most of the time, which they can now put together or lightly slap at something. Babies know how to play with and shake a rattle toy.
- While being breastfed, babies instinctively starts supporting their mother’s breast with their hands.
- During the fourth month you can notice how your baby puts his finger in the mouth on purpose.
You should be alerted if:
- Your baby can’t manage turning to lying on his tummy from his back.
- While held in the vertical position, your baby doesn’t rest on his toes.
- Your baby can’t grasp and hold objects in his hands.
- When you are pulling your baby towards yourself while he’s laid, his head leans back.
- While lying on his tummy they can’t half-rise on his hands.
- They don’t show any emotions and don’t react to other people at all.
Four month old baby reflexes
Newborn’s reflexes keep vanishing at 4 months old, for example:
- Moro reflex. This reflex is usually a startled reaction to a loud sound. The baby may extend his arms, head and legs then pull his body back inwards. It starts disappearing at the fourth or the fifth month, so some babies still have it while others aren’t applying it.
- Grasp reflex. At the period of 4 months your baby develops a proper grasping based on the “Grasp” reflex. You baby can now grasp different objects and hold them.
- Crawl reflex. If you are pressuring the soles of a newborn’s feet when they are lying on their tummy, newborns make crawling movements, but after the fourth month of life, this reflex starts fading and turning into actual crawling.
By the end of the fourth month, infant’s reflexes listed below should be fully gone, if so and you notice your baby still applying them, it might be a signal for visiting a pediatrician:
- Galant reflex. Placing the baby in a ventral position and stroking the skin on one side of their back would swing their torso and hips towards the side your hand.
- Peres reflex. Use your finger to stroke your infant’s spine while they are held in a flat position. Their whole body will start extending and it will cause the baby to scream (don’t try to apply this on your own).
Psychological and emotional development
Four month old babies are taking even greater interest in the world. They enjoy looking at themselves in the mirror, discovering their own body parts, touching their hair and face, playing with their own feet and hands.
Babies are able to express emotions of happiness after hearing parent’s voices or seeing the toy they admire (by smiling, moving hands and legs or babbling the very first sounds to greet everyone).
At this stage the baby already can pronounce strings of syllables and are even able to recognise their own names. Besides showing happiness, infants know how to feel other emotions like curiosity, joy, fear, irritation and anger.
During the fourth month of life your baby will develop elementary consistent thinking, for example after seeing their mother’s chest, they will be instantly expecting to be fed.
The most special relationships infants develop are with their mothers. They have this special emotional connection that allows them to realise whenever their mommy is happy, and they can also sense whether to be happy with her or the opposite. Babies get upset if they can see that their mother isn’t in the best mood.
After all these 4 months babies already recognise their family and relatives, but they behave very cautiously with strangers. They can be both very interested or rather scared to see who came to visit them.
Hand-eye coordination of babies is also improving at this stage. They aren’t just seeing objects anymore, but they are watching and following their course or concentrating on a toy that they are holding. If something disappears from the baby’s sight, they can easily forget about it, but they can recognise whenever they see that object again.
As the baby grows up, they become more sensitive to the colours. The most favourite colours of the babies at first are consecutively: yellow and red- then blue and green. Infants prefer bright contrasted tones than combinations of a few tones, so keep this in mind while choosing toys- as oversaturated tones can tire your baby.
Babies are using their ears to absorb loads of information about the world around them. At 4 months old infants already start looking for the source of various sounds that they hear and turning their heads to directions where these sounds are heard from.
Four months old babies can distinguish familiar voices from the ones they haven’t heard before and understand if those are voices of their family or strangers. Babies find high-pitched tones more calming, and react more positively to them while low-pitched voices may sound unpleasant to infants.
At the fourth month of life, your baby will be listening and concentrating when music is playing and you may even notice him slightly moving his body in response to the rhythmic songs. However, it’s recommended for the babies of this age that they listen to the music made by one instrument as they still can’t determine many tones.
It’s getting closer to that point where your baby soon will be trying to say their first words, that’s why it’s very important to talk to your baby no matter where you are. You can read fairy tales to them while at home or if you are going for a walk- you can describe and comment everything you see there. All your effort will be helpful for your baby so they can learn how to start talking at an earlier age. If you hear them babbling, try to repeat it and after a while, your baby will start repeating after you.
Feeding and sleeping
Breastfeeding. If you have enough milk to breastfeed your baby and their weight is normal, then let your baby decide when and how much he should be fed.
Nowadays pediatricians recommend to start feeding infants with solid food only when those are about 6 months old, as breast milk has all the vitamins and microelements that your baby needs. If you start giving them fruit juices or purees earlier (as it was recommended by pediatricians in the recent past), you’re exposing your baby to allergy risks, or problems with their digestive system.
It’s recommended that you begin introducing solid food to babies from vegetable purees rather than the fruit ones, firstly because after trying sweet fruits many babies refuse to eat vegetable mixtures that may seem tasteless. Secondly vegetables have more fibers that are very important for first feedings.
Formula Feeding. If your baby is formula-fed, it’s acceptable to introduce solid food to them earlier. Beginning from the fourth month you can start giving them juice about 20-30g per day, mixing it with boiled water with a 1:1 ratio. Formula feeding can also be obtained on-demand considering that infants should be fed 6-7 times a day and the amount of the mixture should be 1/7 from the baby’s weight which is approximately up to 1 litre a day and 150-160 ml for each feeding.
Sleeping. Some of 4 months old babies can already sleep overnight, though sometimes they still wake up 2-3 times for feeding. They sleep about 15 hours a day, usually 10 hours during the night and 5 hours in a few different periods during the day.
The best time to get your baby to sleep is from 7-9 pm, because infants are getting very tired if they are staying awake until late. It’s highly recommended that you set a regime of daytime naps for your baby, it will help them to be ready for bed in night.
Tips for helping development of your four-month old
- Communication to the baby is one of the most important ways to introduce this world to them. Even if your baby still doesn’t understand what you are saying, it’s very important to tell them about everything.
- You can show different objects to them and explain what they are for. Describe the look of the things that you showed and name its colours. Apart from the toys, you can give various safe objects to your baby that they can touch, squeeze, smell and throw.
- Whenever possible, carry your baby everywhere with you to prepare them for the world outside their crib. For this purpose you can carry them in your arms or use a sling or carriage.
- Four month old babies are no longer interested in rattles that much, so it’s time to get some new toys that can help develop their motor skills such as: inflatable balls, small dolls, musical toys and soft toys of different textures (velvet, silk or wool). Another useful thing you can purchase for your baby is a play-mat.
- Keep doing regular massages to your baby, assist them with basic gymnastics training and continue to apply cold-tempering.
Baby massage technique. This particular technique is very good for pre-crawling four month old babies, but don’t try it before or straight after the meal. Lay a towel on a flat surface, for example on the floor and place your baby on it. It’s good to begin from the baby’s legs as they are less sensitive than some of the other parts of the body, for extra comfort and effect- you can use some type of vegetable-based oil for massaging.
Just wrap your hands around their thighs and gently pull down one leg after another, then switch. Continue with the feet, slightly rotating them to each direction and stroke from the ankle all the way to their toes, grabbing each toe and gently pulling them until your fingers slip.
Moving to the arms, take one of your baby’s hand and very tenderly rotate the wrist a few times, then massage the arms the same way as you’ve done to the legs. Flatten your palms and lightly stroke the baby’s chest over the heart, repeat a few times. Then place one hand flat on the top of their chest and keep stroking their body all the way down to the thighs. The final step is massaging back- roll your baby so that they are lying on their tummy and draw tiny circles with your fingers on both sides of the spine from the top down to the buttocks, then all the way from the neck to their feet.
Your baby will be growing healthily and happily if you keep following these basic instructions, but remember that no one knows them better than you do. Trust your mother’s instincts and listen to your child to understand what they need! If you know any other tips on raising four-month old babies, please share with us and tell us more about your baby!