Feeding less frequently
As your baby reaches four months, his stomach has grown bigger so he doesn’t need to feed so often — just four or five times a day. But he’ll still gain weight — his need to feed just tapers off as he gets older, becoming more like that of older children and adults. Now his attention will start to gravitate toward other people and things during mealtimes, and though it’s exciting to see him aware of and responsive to new things, feedings can get difficult. If your baby is easily distracted, try feeding him somewhere quiet for a while.
A new talent for rolling over
When placed on his stomach, your baby will lift his head and shoulders high, using his arms for support. This mini push-up helps him strengthen his muscles and get a better view of what’s going on. He may even amaze you (and himself!) by rolling over from his back to his front, or vice versa. You can encourage this through play: wiggle a toy next to the side he customarily rolls to in case he’s interested enough to try again. Applaud his efforts and smile; he may need your reassurance since new actions can be frightening.
Time for solid foods?
For the first four to six months of life your baby gets all the nutrients he needs from breast milk or formula milk. Still, parents are often eager to start their babies on solid foods. Talk to your doctor before trying yours on solids. You can begin feeding your baby some solids (meaning mushy foods such as pureed baby food or baby cereal) now that his digestive tract is more developed and his tongue-thrust reflex is starting to fade, but many doctors encourage parents to wait until their baby is six months old. Not rushing onto solids can cut down on allergic reactions and ensures that breast milk and formula won’t get crowded out of your baby’s diet.
Reaching out and mouthing objects
Your baby is now able to reach out and grab an object, even though he often misses his mark on the first try. Once he wraps his hands around something, he’ll study it for a moment and then try to put it in his mouth. You may also notice a lot more dribbling now. Some babies can start teething as early as four months, but the first tooth usually doesn’t surface until five to six months.
Encourage your baby to explore and play with a variety of objects. For instance, a clean cloth diaper will occupy your baby for a few minutes. Watch him suck on it, hold it, and discover what happens when he scrunches it up. Give him a light rattle and watch him delight in the sound it makes when he shakes it. An activity centre or cradle gym is a good choice for this stage, as your baby begins to discover the cause and effect of moving a lever and hearing a bell ring, for instance.
Able to play alone now
By now, your baby can play with his hands and feet for a few minutes at a time. A miracle! Suddenly you realize it’s strangely quiet in the bedroom so you look in, only to discover that your baby, who so far has needed your attention for most of every waking moment, is amusing himself. Now maybe you can start reading the paper again.
Beginning to understand the role of language
Researchers believe that by four months your baby understands all the basic sounds that make up his native language. Between four and six months, he develops the ability to make some vocal sounds, such as "ma-ma" or "da-da." He doesn’t yet connect that sound with a parent, though. By now, he’s also able to participate in back-and-forth imitation games — you say "boo," and he’ll try to say it back. You can promote your child’s sense of communication through imitating his faces and sounds — "mirroring" him. Because you react when he makes noises and tries to say something, your baby learns the importance of language and starts to understand cause and effect. He’ll begin to realize that what he says makes a difference.
Appreciation for a full range of colours
Babies see colour from birth, but they have difficulty distinguishing similar tones such as red and orange. As a result they often prefer black and white or high-contrast colours. Between your baby’s second and fourth months, colour differences become clearer, and your baby starts to distinguish similar shades. Your baby will probably begin to show a preference for bright primary colours now. Some great
eye-catchers include primary-coloured mobiles (hung out of his reach), bright posters, and visually striking board books.
Getting more selective about people
By four months, your baby may respond to your presence, your voice, and even your facial expressions by kicking and waving his arms.
About now, your child, who to this point probably bestowed smiles on everyone he met, is beginning to be choosy about the company he keeps. In large groups or with unfamiliar people he may need time to get comfortable. Allow for transition time with strangers or when leaving your baby with a babysitter. You may also notice that when he’s safely in your arms he’s interested in interacting with other people — especially noisy, boisterous older children.
Is my baby developing normally?
Remember, each baby is unique and meets social milestones at his own pace. These are simply guidelines to what your baby has the potential to accomplish — if not right now, then shortly.
And if your baby was born prematurely, you’ll probably find that he’ll need time before he can do the same things as other children his age. Don’t worry. Most doctors assess a premature child’s development from the time he should have been born and evaluate his skills accordingly.
If you have any questions at all about your baby’s development, check with your doctor.