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 your little one’s unique personality and watch him or her build the strength and skills needed for exciting feats like sitting, reaching and rolling!
Baby Development Milestones
Now that you have a 4-month-old baby you may find life is slightly less hectic as you start to set down some daily routines. Your little one is probably still keeping you on your toes, but that's to be expected! Now, and for the next few months, your baby is busy honing those all-important motor skills so that he or she’ll be able to grasp things, roll over and sit up unaided.
The best is yet to come, so 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 to grow apace. Your GP will track that growh in your baby’s red book on centile charts, which show the pattern of growth followed by healthy children. There’s a different growth chart for boys and girls.
The curved centile lines on the charts indicate the average height and weight gain for babies. Your baby’s growth measurements will be plotted on these charts. This way, you will be able to see how your baby compares with others of the same age and gender in terms of growth just by looking at the charts.
Senses: Developing Distance Vision
The world around your baby is coming into focus, literally, as his or her distance vision steadily improves. Your little one may start to recognise you and other familiar faces at a distance, and can probably easily follow moving objects with his eyes from side to side. Another source of endless visual fascination for your 4-month-old baby? Him or herself! An unbreakable mirror is a great toy for infants this age so they can see their own movements reflected back at them.
The foundations of your 4-month-old baby’s language skills are forming, thanks to improved hearing and cognitive development. Your little one may be able to mimic some of the rhythms, tones and patterns of some of the words you speak to your baby, and his or her cries may sound different based on his various needs. It may all sound like baby babble now, but this is helping to build 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. As your baby’s vision improves, more and more objects will make their way to your little one's mouth. Just be careful what's within reach of those tiny hands! Other new skills might include grabbing and shaking toys and rattles.
Your baby is working on strengthening those back and chest muscles, and on holding his or her head up during tummy time. Before long your little one will have the body strength to roll over from one side to the other.
4-Month-Old Baby Development Milestones
Your baby may also be doing some of the following at this point:
Holding his or her head up independently
Bringing a hand to his or her mouth
Sitting up with support
Reaching for and grabbing objects of interest.
Personality: Getting to Know Your Little One
At four months old, your baby's likely to become more sensitive to your tone of voice. Your soft, gentle voice soothes and reassures her, while a harsher, angrier tone will tell her something is wrong. She's also likely to imitate your tone in her coos and babbles. She can mimic certain sounds or syllables long before she's able to form real words.
How to Support Your Baby's Development
You may pick up some ways to help foster your 4-month-old baby's development from your health visitor, GP or even from other parents you trust, but here are some activities to help get you started.
To encourage visual development:
Hang a colourful mobile over the cot, making sure it is safely beyond your little one’s reach.
Let your baby marvel at his or her own reflection and movements with an unbreakable toy mirror.
Playing peek-a-boo is a great way to help your little one learn about object permanence. Your baby loves seeing your face appear and reappear!
To promote movement and motor control:
Give your baby tummy time. Your little one will practice lifting the head and chest while on his or her tummy (with you close at hand) and this will help strengthen the muscles needed for rolling over, sitting and crawling.
Practice sitting. With your support in this position, your baby has a better range of motion to reach for and grab objects. Let your little one grab your finger to pull him or herself up into a sitting position.
Practice standing. Support your baby in a standing position by holding him or her under the arms, to help work those leg muscles.
To aid language development:
Read and sing to your baby.
Mimic his or her sounds.
Respond positively when your little one mimics the sounds you make as you speak.
Feeding Your 4-Month-Old Baby
At four months old, your baby is still getting all his or her nutritional needs met from breast milk, formula or a combination of the two. Weaning or complementary feeding should not start before this time, as babies normally lack the co-ordination required to swallow solid food, and their bodies may not be developed enough to digest it. In fact, experts recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of the baby’s life.
Around this time, the frequency of feeds may start to decrease. Your baby will give you clues that he’s hungry – for example, by licking his lips, sticking out his tongue, acting fussy or sucking on his or her knuckles. Track your baby's wet and dirty nappies – there should be around six wet nappies a day - as well as stool frequency and consistency to make sure your little one’s getting enough to eat.
How Much Sleep Does a 4-Month-Old Baby Need?
The body clock pattern of an average 4-month-old baby is around 13 hour days and 11 hour nights. Around this time babies might start to sleep longer between feeds at night and will go to sleep earlier in the evening. This also means fewer feeds during the night. By 4 months, your little one may be getting twice as much sleep at night as he or she does during the day.
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 she needs to help your little one fall asleep.
A Day in the Life of Your Baby
Your baby's budding curiosity and alertness make every day special, and you're probably feeling more at ease as you get into a groove with some simple routines. Here is an example of a daily schedule for a 4-month-old, which you could follow:
Your Baby's Health: Common Infections
If your baby is coughing or showing signs of a cold or fever, reach out to your GP for advice and read up on some of the health conditions and illnesses that might crop up at this stage.
A fever usually indicates illness. In babies under six months, a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or higher is considered a fever, and may mean your little one is currently fighting some kind of infection. Other signs of fever might include sweaty or clammy skin and flushed cheeks. A fever can indicate many different types of infection such as colds, flu or ear infection. A fever can also develop after a vaccination. Although it’s rarely a sign of something serious, to be safe, call your GP for advice.
If your baby shows symptoms of dehydration, or has a high temperature for more than five days or a fever that doesn’t respond to paracetamol or ibuprofen, get an urgent appointment with your GP.
To take your baby's temperature easily, use a digital thermometer. Hold your baby on your knee and put the thermometer in her armpit holding her arm against her body to keep the thermometer in place, and follow the manufacturer's instructions to get an accurate reading.
A cold is an upper respiratory infection caused by a virus. Colds are very common (babies might have 8 or more colds a year) and usually get better in about a week or two. Infant paracetamol or ibuprofen, or saline nose drops may be a great help in relieving symptoms, which may include a runny nose, sneezing, mild fever, cough, low appetite or a sore throat. Check with your GP first about what treatment is right for your baby.
Another common viral illness is bronchiolitis, which is an infection and inflammation of the smallest airways in the lungs. It's highly contagious, so be especially vigilant about hand-washing during winter, when infections are more likely to spread. Early symptoms, such as a runny nose and cough, are similar to the common cold. Bronchiolitis normally clears up within two to three weeks without needing specific treatment.
Contact your GP or call NHS Direct right away if your baby
is breathing noisily
has a persistent fever
has cold hands or feet.
Your Life as a Parent: Bonding through Infant Massage
You may be wondering if there is anything you can do to promote health and wellness beyond your baby’s regular playtime activities. You and your baby may enjoy the relaxation and bonding that comes with giving him or her a gentle massage. It could even reduce your baby’s stress levels, and help decrease the amount of crying.
Before you get started, ask your baby’s pediatrician to show you some good techniques, or join an infant massage class to learn the ropes. These are some of the basic factors to keep in mind:
Create a relaxing environment. Wait at least 45 minutes after a feeding before beginning a massage. Then, place your baby on his or her back either on the change table or on your own bed. Maintain eye contact as you begin to massage your little one.
Use a gentle touch. Use gentle strokes to massage each part of your baby’s body, including the head, neck, shoulders, thighs, feet and hands.
Talk or sing to your baby. Your little one will feel more relaxed if you talk softly or sing a favourite song while giving a massage.
Gauge the reaction. Continue the massage if your baby seems happy, but if you notice any restlessness or fussing, it’s time to stop as he or she may not be enjoying it.
FAQs at a Glance
Can I give my 4-month-old baby baby rice or baby porridge?
A : No (unless your health visitor or GP tells you otherwise). Experts generally recommend only breast milk or formula until six months of age.
When will my baby sleep through the night without feeding?
A : At 4 months old, some babies will sleep through the night without waking for feeding. Breastfed babies may still need a night-time feeding from time to time.
How will I know when my baby starts teething?
A : Every baby is different, but the first few teeth could start to show up as early as four months. When your baby’s teeth start to sprout, you may find that he or she becomes irritable, has a low-grade fever, drools a lot or has swollen, tender gums.
How we wrote this article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the National Health Service (NHS).
The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.
Checklist for This Month
Ask your doctor or midwife to help you apply for a maternity exemption certificate. You’ll need this to claim free dental care and prescriptions while you’re pregnant.
Think about where you’d like to give birth. Whether you want to have your baby at home, in a birthing centre or at hospital, there are plenty of options and plenty of factors to consider when making your choice. Ask your midwife or doctor to fill you in on what facilities are available in your local area, and on the pros and cons of each option.