Baby Development Milestones – 3 months to 4 months
The ‘awakening’ has begun – sleep routines may completely change and alertness will increase during this time. It’s all about playtime for your 4-month-old. Your baby has developed a personality of sorts and they’ll often pull away during breast and bottle feeding as FOMO sets in – they want to be part of the action and see and hear everything that is going on around them. They’ll truly need a quiet environment to mellow out and sleep.
During your playtime, your baby will be keen to show off a few of their newfound abilities, such as rolling and pushing up. Also, watch out for your own plate of food at the dinner table as your little one will be keeping an eye on what you are eating and may try to grasp at it if it gains his/her interest.
Physical Skills and Motor Development
Your baby will have become a bit of a grabber, enjoying reaching out for toys, shaking them, and bringing them to his/her mouth. They will have a sort of pinching manoeuvre down, using their fingers and thumb to pick up objects. Hands and everything else are likely to head straight for their mouth – don’t worry this is completely normal with new mouth skills being learned as they ready themselves for solid food. Keep a good watch on them though and ensure that nothing small enough to fit inside their mouth gets near their mouth as this could be a choking hazard.
At 4 months, for some babies teething will have begun so your baby will be doing tons of gnawing. Expect drooling and gumming on objects of interest – you’ll probably find drool on everything that they touch. Teething rings, plastic keys, and soft toys and books are a safe bet right now.
Physical development really gains momentum at this age, your baby will have moved from lifting up his/her chest to pushing up to their elbows during tummy time. They will also have increased upper body control and have mastered the skill of sitting upright without support. They will be able to hold their head steady unsupported, be able to rock from side to side and rollover from their tummy to their back. Some may even start crawling in the next few months.
Your baby will be pushing down on their legs when their feet are placed on a hard surface and they are held in an upright position. Encourage this by providing time for you to hold them upright for small periods. Perhaps also encourage them to hold themselves upright using a table while you support them from behind.
There is a significant improvement in your baby’s eyesight and also their ability to link what they see to what they hear, taste and feel. As he/she watches objects, their eyes will move from side to side to watch. With their improved eyesight comes the ability to focus better and your little one will probably enjoy looking at you while they are feeding. The little one is also able to look at things in the distance and not only things that are close to him/her.
When your baby reaches for an object and they are bringing it to their mouth they are actually doing this to improve what they can feel from the object, i.e. they are using their mouths and well as their hands to feel the object. This should be encouraged by providing differently shaped objects for them to experiment with – just make sure they are safe for your baby to play with and not something that they could potentially swallow.
Speech and Language Development
You’ll likely also have a bit of a chatterbox on your hands as he’she listens to you talk and tries to imitate what you are saying. They will try to copy sounds and may begin squealing as they test out their voice range. Some might even say ‘ma-ma’ or ‘da-da’ – while pulling at your heartstrings, unfortunately, they probably don’t connect these words to you yet.
Your baby will probably laugh out loud and there are likely to be full baby giggles (YAY!) – play peekaboo and make funny faces to get your baby giggling. They are able to communicate emotions such as sad and happy and will probably cry in different ways to show hunger, pain or tiredness.
Singing songs, reading books, playing with toys and listening to you making funny noises are all activities your baby loves doing. Talking, reading and singing to your baby will help to develop their language skills further – so continue to do this and invent new ways to display emotions, reactions, and verbalisations to your child. What is important now is to start differentiation tones and intonations in your voice as you speak to them and ensure that you emphasise different expressions during storytime.
Social and Emotional Development
You can start to really have fun with your baby now. She/he is smiling spontaneously, especially at other people and will wave their arms and legs to show excitement.
With the development of the little one cognitively, you’re able to now stare into each other’s eyes and smile, laugh and talk. Your baby is also much more emotionally expressive, chucking and able to show delight and excitement. They will also be able to show emotions like anger and frustration, and instead of crying all the time they might whinge. When comforted, most of the time they will also clam and stop crying. Learning your baby’s cues for being hungry and/or tired is important for being able to respond to them.
Playtime amps up dramatically as your baby will really enjoy playing with people and imitating their smiles and frowns. Showing you baby their reflection in the mirror is encouraged as they love looking at themselves and might smile and talk to their reflection.
Continue to involve him/her in your everyday activities as this will continue to develop their interaction skills. Because your baby is starting to imitate you, speech filters are important to ensure your kid doesn’t pick up the wrong words.
At this stage it is worthwhile thinking about what you need to do to ensure that they have a safe space to roam around when they start moving – it could happen very soon and they may even be showing signs of being ready to start crawling.
It also helps if your baby starts to deliver a routine. Find one that works for both of you and repeat the pattern daily. This will play into their feeling of safety and security.
Also, keep on hand a ton of bibs, wipes and extra clothing as the drool really goes everywhere when they start teething!