Now more than ever, you will notice what a fast learner your baby is as she experiments with the world around her and explores everything within her reach. She may soon start to offer up regular displays of affection, holding out her arms to you to be picked up or returning a hug around your neck – a true heart-melting moment.
Feeding and sleeping
Your baby will continue to need between 14 and 16 hours of sleep over a 24-hour period, including two to three daytime naps. If she has previously had three naps, you may experience the odd day where she skips it or does not appear to need it. Some babies will be sleeping through the night at five months of age, but if your baby is still regularly waking for comfort or a feed, this is normal too. Try to establish a regular bedtime routine to help her to wind down of an evening.
Milk will continue to be all your baby needs for the first six months of her life and if you are exclusively breastfeeding, she should also have a daily vitamin D supplement. Now might be a good time to start investigating weaning by reading around the topic or attending a weaning workshop to prepare yourself for the coming months when you introduce solids to her routine.
Your GP or health visitor will be able to advise if you are worried about your baby’s feeding pattern and weight gain.
As your baby continues to add new sounds to her repertoire, she may start to experiment with blowing raspberries by vibrating her lips together, eliciting laughter from everyone within earshot. She will likely respond in a similarly overjoyed way to your funny faces and silly sounds.
As well as her regular babbles, your baby might start to produce familiar sounding ‘words’ such as ‘ma-ma’ or ‘da-da’ although she will not yet have made the link between the word and its meaning. Having said that, she may turn her head at the sound of someone saying her name or react to a command such as ‘no’.
If you sing nursery rhymes to your baby regularly you may notice that she starts to recognise them and gets excited when you begin. Your baby loves the sound of your voice so singing is a wonderful way to play and bond together, while supporting her language development.
Senses and physical development
Your baby’s sight and eye control are continuing to improve, as is her depth perception and she will now be able to see a broad range of colours and shades. She will not yet understand that objects exist when she cannot see them, but this awareness will come soon.
Your little one will most likely be putting everything in her mouth at this age because of the large number of nerve endings in her mouth making it the most sensitive part of her body – it is her way of exploring what something feels like. Beware small objects which could obstruct your baby’s airways and be sure to regularly wash and sanitise her favourite toys to chew.
As your baby’s muscles develop and become stronger, she may be showing signs that she is ready to sit up unaided, but most babies will still need support for a couple of months yet. You can support this development by moving your baby’s legs into a diamond shape to help her to balance, and then place a toy in front of her to play with. Stay close to rescue her if she topples. Her manual dexterity will also be improving day by day and she may be able to pass objects from one hand to the other or pick up a small object or toy.
Playing with your four-month-old
While your little one will not yet be ready to crawl, you can help to improve her balance and physical coordination in preparation for crawling in many ways. Try placing a toy just out of reach during tummy time to encourage her to reach for it and move towards it. You can also have fun together by swinging your baby up and down, and rocking her from side to side, supporting the development of her balance.
Playing peek-a-boo is a fantastic way of helping your baby to understand object permanence – the idea that something still exists even if she cannot see it. Try placing a toy under a blanket, then lift the blanket away to reveal the toy, then cover it up again, and so on.
Now that your baby has better control over her hands and can reach for and pick up toys, make a game of handing her colourful toys and naming them as you do. This will help to teach your baby new words while playing together and developing her manual dexterity.
Now is a good time to baby-proof the house if your have not already done so as it will not be long before your baby is into everything, hazards and all!
While the above indicates what you can expect to see your baby going this month, it is important to keep in mind that all babies are unique and will develop at their own pace. If you have any concerns about your baby’s development, talk to your doctor or health visitor.
Jen Dowding, Baby massage and baby yoga instructor, Basking Babies Laindon & Orsett