Baby development milestones at 4 months

Look momma, I can understand a lot now!

That’s right, your 4 month old can take a lot of stuff from the environment now. Until 3 months you will see some baby milestones in progressing phase and some others at the verge of termination. But, at 4 months there will be some more baby developments that are dramatically visible and more important than just the general motor and sensory ones. 

So, now you can count one more member in your family who as an individual will need your extra attention, someone to chatter around and your attention. We have entered into the 4th month phase of our life where you cannot take your eyes off from the little one who is just as curious to know what’s going on around.

We will be discussing some important issues and developmental milestones now, like

  • Motor and cognitive development in infants
  • Sensory development- Vision, hearing, touch, bright light
  • Social emotional and language development in early childhood
  • Development of senses, physical development including teething, hygiene and sleep
  • Game of the month, activities to improve baby developments
  • When to consult a doctor
  • Frequently asked questions

Every month of life is crucial as you can see a lot of changes, likes and dislikes getting developed in your child, cravings, the way she shows interest in some objects and the variety of expressions and movements she tries to perform. So, keep a close eye on all the funny things that your little one does as she will develop new ones next month and dropping the older ones.

I can look around and move my body parts just like you! (Motor development in infants as part of baby milestones)

You will notice steadier head movement now. Less wobbling and less jerking of the neck and head are some of the motor development in infants found at four months. She will move her head around (forward, backward, on both sides). You can notice hand-eye coordination in your baby. Lower limbs are getting more symmetrical movements on both sides (both right and left side legs show a similar pattern of movements; bending of knees, plantarflexed feet). 

She can hold up her upper body during tummy time for a longer period with the support of the forearms. She can lift up the chest, head upwards by extending the elbow, and change the body position.

One of the baby milestones that she tries to achieve is balancing the body when kept in a sitting position (with support).

Is that someone like me in the mirror? (Cognitive development in infants as part of baby milestones)

One of the significant cognitive baby milestones your 4 month old is likely to meet as she can now look around and can analyse things happening is understanding mirror reflections. Also, she can memorise voices, tries to understand what you are talking about. She will also be familiar with sounds and people now. Relating expressions made by you and trying to imitate the same is one of the baby milestones that she is going to achieve now.

She shows signs of irritation, anger, happiness, or hunger. She can look into the mirror and identify her own image. So, you can repeat showing pictures of family members and self to the baby.

Understanding emotions (sad, sorrow, frowning, laughing, smiling, etc) is one of the major developmental milestones your little one is going to reach this month. She knows when to draw your attention to fulfill her need, as by this time, she understands that somebody is there to attend to her when required.

Hey I know who you are! (Social development in early childhood)

As discussed in the previous article, more games and plays are supposed to be performed at home to improve her social skills. Now, besides other baby milestones, she has also reached the developmental milestone of smiling back to the family members when they greet her. She will show interest in being friendly to them. She can identify you, neighbours, brothers, and sisters. Thanks to the recognizing activities that you did last month, they paid off well. Social development in early childhood makes your baby more social and comfortable in meeting many new faces. She tends to show interest in staying in a crowd.

I am in a mood to chat more (communication and language development in early childhood)

Your baby now gets fascinated towards new languages she hears. Simple ‘coos’ and ‘bah’ sounds are heard more often. She tries to communicate by replying back with those cute, blabbering words she produces involuntarily. She gets familiar with her native language as she often hears you talking in the same language frequently at home. In this stage of language development in early childhood, your little one uses her tongue more rapidly to produce sounds. She memorises all vowels and tries to make words starting from these letters. Encourage these activities with more talking and expressions. (See our fun activity Mirror Me video to understand how to boost communication skills in your child.)

She might lower her tone or raise it as if singing or pronouncing some word or making some statements. This might be very entertaining to watch out for.

Sensory Development as part of baby milestones- Vision, Hearing, Touch, Bright Light

Besides achieving various baby milestones, your little one’s senses will get developed as well.

By this stage of child development, your baby will have a clear vision. She can see colourful objects and get alerted on seeing a bright light. She can differentiate between different objects and can see them without going cross-eyed.

She can hear almost all sounds coming from around. She feels calm with soft, low pitch sounds and while loud, hard music may irritate her. You can very well understand now what should be the level of volume for any music or sound you need to keep when you have a 4 month old baby at home. Keep playing with any rattles or toys which should not irritate the baby.

She is now expert in feeling your touch as soon as you hold her. She feels safe and secure when you kiss her and take her in your lap. She distinguishes any harsh, cold wind, or very hot temperature, which is not soothing or is not appropriate for her.

You can introduce some bright objects and lights to her. But remember not to focus the bright light close to her eyes, as the rods and cones in eyes are still in the developing stage. So, this might interfere with the eyesight.

I am a strong baby now (physical development: height and weight)

While your 4 months old is busy in attaining a number of baby milestones this month, her physical growth is also astonishing. Your doctor must have given you a growth chart to check your baby’s height and weight gain.

Approximately your baby gains 2 centimetres in height till date and should add somewhere between 400gms-560gms in weight, (around 25-30 gms per day).

If your baby looks a bit chubby than last month, do not worry as she is on the right track of development. Every child is different, so you should never hurry up in getting all the developmental milestones achieved in a short span. Let her develop naturally at her own pace. 

The growth, in this stage of child development, also depends on more than one factor, for example, if both the parents are shorter than average, it would be normal for that child to have lower percentile for height and weight as she grows up.

In humans, 40% of variation in the birth-weight is due to genetic factors while the rest is due to environmental factors. The foetus has an inherent growth potential, and under normal circumstances, grows into a healthy appropriate sized new born.

Beware of my new food cutters (Teething)

Yes , well this may sound a bit weird, but your baby is going to hit a significant developmental milestone! Your little one is soon going to have those bunny teeth in some weeks from now. It is natural to get teething around 4-5 months. But some children show late progression. However, it is always advisable to look out for signs of teething. 

Few symptoms of teething found in children are-

  • Low grade fever– In some children, low-grade fever (around 101 degrees) is noticed during teething which resolves automatically. They may develop fever 3-4 days before the tooth bud is seen. 
  • Drooling– Many children start drooling a few weeks before teething. You can find saliva all over her lips and mouth area. And sometimes over the clothes or on the bibs. Now you have to carry a handkerchief all day long while your little cutie pie is in your arms. Therefore, during this stage of child development, it becomes necessary to keep the mouth area clean and dry all the time. Keep a check on any rashes around the outer portion of the lips.
  • Irritating and crying baby– You may find your baby suddenly starts crying and does not stop even after consoling. Before you reach any conclusion, just think that those tiny food cutters, that are on their way out might be the culprits.
  • Diarrhoea– Some babies start having poops many times a day, with a soft and watery consistency. Even vomiting can also be noticed after feeding

Once the tooth is out, you should keep it clean by giving a sip of water after feeding each time. Water removes extra milk deposits on the teeth.

Do not put your fingers forcefully inside the baby’s mouth as it might cause infection, and also the baby might chew on to your finger!

Hygiene and Bathing

Continue with everyday shower and oiling before it. Avoid doing it every day when there is fever or during the winter. Clean all the web spaces and change diapers every 3 hours. Apply nappy rash cream after every diaper change. Cut the growing nails weekly.

Do not disturb! (Sleep wake cycle)

By this time, you must have noticed that your baby is able to get a long night’s sleep with a few hours of day nap. Now you can take rest and have ‘some me’ timed around your baby’s nap time. In total a 4-month-old baby sleeps 14-15 hours per day. She can have 8-9 hours of sleep during night and two naps during the day.

Game of the month (Activities to stimulate your child to reach baby milestones)

At this age, your baby finds interest in exploring new faces and new objects. She is curious to imitate and do some new activities with her hands and legs. So, listing some of the activities to help her achieve the baby milestones-

  • Encourage tummy time each time she is playful to boost your baby’s development. Place rattle toys, musical ones in front of her when practicing tummy time. Observe her reaction and let her try to take them.
  • You can use the Gym ball which should not be too large or too small in size when practicing tummy time. Support her at the trunk area. She will try to lift up her chest and head to balance. This improves her back muscle strength and enhances motor skills.
  • Place any big soft toy or drummers in front of the baby. Move them in different directions. She will try to hold them, making some movements with legs to reach out.
  • Save some energy to talk to your baby every day. Chat with her, call her gently and softly. Give her some facial expressions. These are extremely effective in helping your baby reach communication baby milestones. 
  • Greet her with a smile every time you meet her. Introduce family members to her. This improves social and communication skills.
  • Tie some colourful toys around the play mat corners. Place her on the mat. She will try to roll on both sides, making moves with hands and legs
  • Prop her in a sitting position and read books together with her aloud.
  • You can also place a mirror in front of her. She will try to identify her reflection.

Activity of the month to boost baby milestones

  • The gym ball can be used, or you can place your baby on your lap when practicing tummy time. Continue communicating with her throughout the process.
  • Place a pillow under the chest area. Show your fingers moving in front of her in all directions.
  • She will be eager to move up her head and upper body to reach out for your fingers.
  • You can passively lift her up by gently pulling her hands upwards.

This gives a stimulus to the back muscles to stretch out in the desired direction and strengthens the muscle for crawling in the future.

When to consult the doctor?

You need to keep a check on the baby milestones she achieves. If any deviation from the normal baby development is seen, then you should consult the doctor. Check out some important issues-

  1. If the baby is unable to hold her head straight and steady.
  2. If there is no hand eye coordination.
  3. If there is no strength in her hands and legs.
  4. If her back muscles are weak, or neck is wobbling.
  5. If there is still jerkiness and involuntary movements in hands and legs.
  6. If the baby is unable to maintain eye contact with you.
  7. If she does not show any facial expression even after lots of communication.

Frequently asked questions

Parents are usually curious to know more about their babys: Any little activity they perform and if they find anything going wrong in the path of the baby development. Here are the answers to questions commonly asked by new parents

  • My baby can lift her head up but cannot hold it for long. Its been 15 days from now. Is this something to be worried about?

Usually, a child gains her head neck control at around end of 3rd month. But, sometimes there is a delay in the strengthening of the head and neck muscles so that the child feels difficulty in holding it up for long. However, this is normal until the end of the 4th month. By, this month she will have a lot of muscle activity to look at you easily.

  • My baby gets distracted by any noise or sound easily. But, however, she does not have a good eye contact. What can I do to improve it?

Continue with the activities at home by calling her frequently, playing soft music, hold her in your lap, and talk to her as much as you can. Communication is the most useful tool to get her attention and eye contact.

  • The weight of my baby is less than the average required growth chart. What can I do to improve her growth?

First of all, you need to check the approximate range of weight of a 4 month old baby. Then check your baby’s weight. If it falls within the range then it is ok. If it’s very less than the required one, then you need to consult the doctor. Feed her in intervals. If breastfeeding is not fulfilling the need, you can give her formula milk.

These are just broad parameters used to judge a baby’s development.
Remember each baby is unique and so is her pace of development.

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