This month, your little one’s social skills are blooming and her personality will be starting to shine through. She will enjoy lots of fun and conversation, engaging with you, sharing laughs readily, and taking great leaps in her physical development over the coming weeks.
Feeding and sleeping
Your baby will still need between 14 and 16 hours of sleep over a 24-hour period, with 10-12 of those at night – broken by a feed or two – and two to three naps during the day. Some babies may now sleep for eight or more hours consecutively at night, although most will still wake more regularly for a feed or for comfort.
If you have not already, now is a great time to set a regular bedtime routine as your little one will naturally be more tired in the evening. Incorporating a warm bath and some gentle massage strokes can be lovely ways of bonding together, while helping to settle your little one down for a good night’s sleep.
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. You may notice a more regular feeding pattern around this age, with your baby going longer between feeds, however every baby is different and growth spurts may result in an increased demand for feeds at certain times.
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’s hearing and cognitive function develops, so too do the foundations of language and communication. You may notice your little one mimicking some of the rhythms or tones of your voice and this may bring with it a more distinct difference in your baby’s cries, depending on her needs at the time.
You can support your baby’s language development by asking and answering questions to model turn-taking, narrating your day to keep language flowing, drawing attention to any sounds you hear as you go about your day, and allowing her time to form sounds as you listen, then repeat them back to her.
Senses and physical development
By this age, your little one will be better able to notice differences in shades of colour and may start to favour certain colours.
She will be able to track faster movements with her eyes, often making a grab towards moving objects, and around now, her depth perception will be improving.
This month, your baby is working on lots of new physical skills, such as grabbing, rolling and pushing herself up into a mini cobra from a tummy position. She may try to bear weight on her legs when held in an upright position and, in addition to being fascinated by her own hands and feet, she will likely enjoy putting them in her mouth. Do not worry if your baby is not rolling just yet as some babies are ready now and some will not be ready to roll for another couple of months.
Here is a lovely little trick to assist your baby’s physical development at this age – when she is lying on her back, if she shows signs of trying to lift her head and shoulders, place your finger in her hands and allow her to grasp them, before gently lifting her into a seated position. If she resists or her head lags, lower her back down as it is important that she is doing the work with her tummy muscles, rather than you attempting to pull her up.
You may be witnessing your baby’s first signs of teething such as dribbling, sore and inflamed gums, red cheeks, and regular attempts to bite down hard on anything that comes close to her mouth. While you probably will not see her first tooth break through just yet, you can help to relieve the pain she is experiencing by providing cool teething toys or even a gentle face massage, stroking over her lips to put pressure on the gums. Pressure travels faster than pain to the brain which is why this little trick often helps teething babies.
Playing with your four-month-old
As your baby develops better hand-to-eye coordination, she will try to reach for toys to investigate and bat at them. Play mats and mobiles are a great way to support this development. If she is showing signs that she wants to roll over, try placing a toy or sought-after object, such as a packet of baby wipes, over her shoulder and just out of reach to encourage her. If she starts to get frustrated, help her to roll over and reach the toy.
Placing noisy toys such as rattles in your baby’s hands and allowing her to give them a shake is a fun game to play at this age as she will be excited to learn that she is responsible for making the noise. Your baby will also enjoy experimenting with different textures so look for books with the option to touch and feel to read together.
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