Your 4-Month-Old Baby’s Development and Milestones

Your 4-month-old baby is more alert, active, and engaging than ever. Enjoy this time as you find out more about their unique personality and watch them build the strength and skills they need for exciting feats like sitting, reaching, and rolling!

Baby Development Milestones

Now that you have a 4-month-old baby you may find life slightly less hectic as you work with some established daily routines. But that little one is probably keeping you on your toes, and that's to be expected! Now, and for the next few months, they will be busy honing their newfound motor skills and will eventually be fully able to grasp things, roll over, and sit up on their own. The best is yet to come: 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 their fast pace of growth (about 1 to 1 1/4 pounds per month) but remember that a steady rate of growth is more important than any specific gains in weight or length.

You may want to learn more about how your baby’s healthcare provider will use baby growth charts to track your baby's growth. With the help of these charts, your baby’s provider will assess whether your 4-month-old baby is on track and within the average range of growth by length and weight.

There's a lot of cognitive and physical development taking place now, and you’re probably about to start seeing more deliberate actions from your baby as they learn concepts like cause and effect.

Senses: Developing Distance Vision and Language

The world around your baby is coming into focus, literally, as their distance vision steadily improves. They may start to recognize you and other familiar faces at a distance, and they can easily follow moving objects with their eyes. Their color vision is also improving, and you may notice that they seem to favor shades of red and blue.

How far can your 4-month-old baby see? By this age your baby’s visual range has increased to several yards or even more, and it will continue to improve in the following months, along with their ability to visually track fast-moving objects like a ball rolling across the floor. As your baby’s hand-eye coordination improves, they’ll start reaching for toys and may be able to grab those moving objects. Don’t worry if your baby’s not reaching for toys at 4 months old, as this development may come later in some babies.

Another source of endless visual fascination for your 4-month-old baby? Themselves! An unbreakable mirror is a great toy for infants this age, as they can see a wide range of colors and shapes as well as their own movements in their reflection.

It’s not only your baby’s sense of sight that’s maturing, but also their language skills, thanks to improved hearing and cognitive development. They may be able to mimic some of the rhythms, tones, and patterns of some of the words you speak to them, and their cries may sound different based on their various needs. It may sound like baby babble now, but they’re building a solid foundation for later speech. Find out more about when your baby may start talking.

Movement: Almost on a Roll

Four-month-old baby movement developmental milestones are all about muscle control and hand-eye coordination. If you notice more and more objects making their way into your little one's mouth, that's because with their vision improving, they’re able to do this more successfully. Be careful of what’s within their reach. They can probably grab and shake toys and rattles now and may soon be able to pass objects from one hand to another.

Your little one is almost on the move! They’re still working on strengthening their back and chest muscles, and they’re also working on holding their head up while on their tummy. Before long they’ll have the body strength to roll over from one side to the other.

To summarize, your baby may be doing some of the following at this point:

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Personality: Getting to Know Your Little One

At 4 months old, your baby’s increased mobility and cognitive awareness make them even more curious about the world around them. They'll also likely become more sensitive to your tone of voice. Your soft, gentle voice soothes and reassures them, whereas a harsher, angrier tone will let them know something is wrong. And they’re also likely to imitate your tone in their coos and babbles. They may be able to mimic certain sounds or syllables long before they’re able to form real words.

But what if your baby doesn't seem to be so easygoing or inquisitive? That's OK, too. Sometimes babies who seem to be shy need more comfort and attention from their caregivers. Watch to see if your baby seems overwhelmed, overstimulated, or withdrawn in certain situations, and give them time to get comfortable with any new faces or new activities in their life.

Activities for Supporting Your 4-Month-Old Baby's Development

What “should” a 4-month-old be doing? Here are some fun activities and things to do with your 4-month-old that can help foster your baby's development:

  • To encourage visual development

    • Hang a colorful mobile over your baby’s crib, making sure it is safely beyond their reach.

    • Let them marvel at their image and movements in a mirror.

    • Play peekaboo, which helps them learn about object permanence. They love seeing your face appear and reappear!

  • To promote muscle strength and motor control

    • Do tummy time. Lifting their head and chest while on their tummy (with you close at hand) will strengthen those muscles needed for rolling over and sitting.

    • Practice sitting. As you support them in this position, they have a better range of motion to reach for and grab objects.

    • Practice standing. While holding your baby under their arms, pull them into a standing position to help them work those leg muscles.

  • To aid language development.

    • Talk, read, and sing to your baby.

    • Mimic their sounds.

    • Respond positively when they mimic yours.

Feeding Your 4-Month-Old Baby

At 4 months old, your baby is still getting all their nutritional needs met from breast milk, formula, or a combination of the two. The best way to know when it’s time to for a feeding is to observe your baby for signs of hunger. These clues can include your baby

  • licking their lips

  • sticking their tongue out

  • acting fussy

  • sucking on their knuckles.

How often does a 4-month-old baby eat? As a general guideline, a 4-month-old baby’s feeding schedule could consist of about four to six ounces of breast milk or formula every three to five hours. You'll still want to track wet and dirty diapers as well as stool frequency and consistency to make sure your baby is getting enough to eat. Your healthcare provider will also check that your baby is eating enough by tracking their growth over time.

One thing won’t change for a while yet: Your baby will need lots and lots of comfy diapers. Download the Pampers Club app, if you haven't already, to get rewards and discounts on all those diapers.

How Much Sleep Does a 4-Month-Old Baby Need?

So, how much “should” a 4-month-old sleep? When it comes to your baby’s nap/sleep schedule, on average a 4-month-old baby needs between 12 and 16 hours of sleep every day. This may mean two daytime naps (morning and afternoon for three to four hours each) and a longer stretch of sleep at night.

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 they need to help them fall asleep.

If your 4-month-old baby’s struggling to sleep or not sleeping well, check out the Smart Sleep Coach app by Pampers. Cocreated by pediatricians and sleep experts, this easy-to-use app includes advice to help you understand your baby’s sleep, a sleep tracker that automatically recommends bedtimes, and expert guidance to help you navigate sleep challenges.

A Day in the Life of Your 4-Month-Old Baby

Your baby's budding curiosity and alertness make every day special, and you're probably feeling more at ease as a parent as you get comfortable sharing some simple routines with your little one. Here is an example of a daily schedule for a 4-month-old:

Your Baby's Health

If your baby is coughing or has other symptoms, such as fever, it's worth knowing about several health conditions and illnesses that might crop up at this stage, and when to reach out to the healthcare provider:

  • Fever. A fever usually indicates illness. In infants, a rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit and higher is considered a fever and may mean your little one is fighting an infection. A fever can indicate many different types of infection such as a cold, flu, ear infection, or even pneumonia, so it's best to call your baby’s healthcare provider for advice and to watch for other symptoms of illness. To take your baby's temperature accurately, use a digital thermometer and measure the temperature in the rectum. Gently insert the device no more than 1/2 to 1 inch and wait until it beeps or lights up to give you an accurate reading.

  • Colds and common illnesses. Also known as an upper respiratory infection, a cold is caused by a virus. Colds are very common (most children will have 8 to 10 colds in their first two years) and highly contagious. Take precautions if your baby is in child care or if you have older, school-aged children at home. You're probably familiar with some of the most obvious signs of a cold, including a runny nose, sneezing, mild fever, cough, low appetite, and sore throat, but contact your baby’s healthcare provider if your baby shows any of these symptoms:

    • bluish lips or fingertips

    • persistent cough (lasting longer than one week)

    • being extra sleepy or fussy

    • temperature over 102 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Bronchiolitis. Another common viral illness is bronchiolitis, an infection of the small breathing tubes of the lungs. It's highly contagious, so be especially vigilant about hand-washing and other methods of hygiene during the fall and winter months when infections are likely to spread. Contact your baby’s healthcare provider right away if your baby

Development Tips for Your Baby This Month

This month, follow these tips and take advantage of these opportunities to nurture your 4-month-old baby’s development as well as strengthen your parent-child bond:

  • Be in sync with your baby’s rhythm and mood. Whether your baby is happy or sad, attend to their needs. Responding to your baby’s cues won’t spoil them.

  • Encourage your child to reach for safe objects. Show them a wooden spoon, a block, or a soft plush toy and wait for them to reach for it and grab it, which helps develop their fine motor skills.

  • Engage with your baby. If your baby makes a funny sound, mimic them. When holding your baby, communicate with them face to face and have a “conversation” even if the words exchanged don’t mean much just yet.

  • Move with your baby. While holding them, dance around, move in a steady rhythm, or just sway.

  • Introduce your baby to their community. Allow your baby to meet other parents and their children. Pay attention to your baby’s cues in case they’re overstimulated or may not be ready to meet people just yet.

Items You Will Need This Month

Here is a list of some baby gear items that may come in handy this month:

  • Play mat or activity gym. Make tummy time more enjoyable by using a play mat or activity gym with your little one.

  • Baby toys. Age-appropriate toys such as a small unbreakable mirror or a colorful mobile can be fun for your little one and can encourage overall development.

  • Baby books. When you read to your baby at bedtime or during the day, you can turn to favorites from your own childhood as well as other time-honored classics and newer titles.

  • Diapers, wipes, and diaper rash cream. Make sure you don't run out of diapers and wipes, and that you have diaper rash cream on hand.

  • Humidifier. Ensure your baby sleeps in the most comfortable environment by using a humidifier, which can improve their quality of sleep.

  • Baby thermometer. Using a thermometer specifically designed for babies makes taking a temperature much easier. Keep one in your first-aid kit.

Your Life as a Parent: Family Ties

A new baby brings lots of changes for a family. From aunts and uncles to cousins and grandparents, everyone wants to feel included and connected with the newest family member. This is an ideal time to get your loved ones involved in caring for the baby. Set aside special tasks they can do to help you with the baby, such as at mealtime, bath time, or playtime.

As a new parent, you'll find it helpful to have your parents, in-laws, or other relatives pitch in with things like cleaning, shopping, and child care for your older kids. It will take some of the pressure off you and help everyone feel like part of the family.

One of the overwhelming parts of becoming a new parent is the torrent of advice you may get from well-meaning relatives or friends and even complete strangers! Learning to handle unwanted advice can be tricky.

Keep in mind that in many cases, there is no one “right way” to raise a child. Pay attention to your child’s cues and try to make decisions based on your child’s unique personality, your beliefs, and your specific circumstances. Above all, if you have any questions or concerns, turn to your baby’s healthcare provider for expert advice, or ask trusted loved ones for their insights.

Checklist for This Month

□ Schedule and take your baby to their healthcare provider for the 4-month checkup. Ask the provider about any upcoming immunizations your baby needs. Learn more about the immunization schedule.

□ Before the visit, jot down any questions or concerns you have about your baby's health and well-being. It's important to let the provider know about any illnesses, rashes, fever, vomiting, or developmental issues you've spotted.

□ Curious about what’s coming next? Read our article on development milestones for 5-month-old babies.

□ Your little one is almost 5 months old! Celebrate this special day by downloading and printing these milestone cards to make your family photo shoot even more special.

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