By 4 months old, your baby has learned to recognize you and familiar caregivers, focus and pay attention to things, and actively engage your attention.
Your infant will learn to sit during this time, and in the next few months will begin exploring by reaching out for objects, grasping and inspecting them.
Continue to foster the learning process by engaging, responding, and encouraging as your child develops a stronger body, a curious mind, and a feel for language. Provide chances for practicing and building on what your little one learns with age-appropriate toys and a safe environment to explore.
Exploring will be a big part of this stage. Your child will be drawn to colors, patterns, and shapes of different objects and toys. By reaching out for things, babies learn about touch, shape, and texture.
Your baby's ability to reach and hold an object will mature now, and after successfully grasping an object, your tot is likely to put it into his or her mouth for further exploration. It's important to make sure that any objects that could be choking hazards — or dangerous to your baby in other ways — are out of reach, or even better, out of sight!
Although those first words are still a couple of months away, your infant is learning a lot about language and will begin to distinguish between different sounds, even though he or she doesn't understand what the words mean. By the end of this period, babies recognize and respond to their own name.
Your baby also will learn how to use his or her voice, and cooing sounds may be mixed with other consonants (such as "ba" and "da") and evolve into babbling like "bababababa," "dadadadada," or "mamamama." Talk to your infant and respond to the sounds he or she is making — this helps teach the social aspects of language and conversation.
Your baby also will begin to get a sense of object permanence (knowing that something can exist, even when it's out of sight). This knowledge will prompt your baby to search for an object that you have partially hidden and to drop toys and other objects over the side of a crib or high chair to watch you retrieve them.
By doing this, babies learn that an object exists even after it's dropped out of sight and start understanding cause and effect (that an action causes a reaction).
As your baby masters this concept, expect your little one to find more ways to make thing happen!
Create a safe place for exploration (with supervision), because by the end of month 7, your baby will be rolling over, sitting, and reaching for everything. It's never too soon to childproof the playspace, even if your baby isn't mobile yet — it will happen before you know it.
Make the space inviting and fun with age-appropriate toys in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. Everyday objects, like wooden spoons, plastic containers, and cups also stimulate creativity and curiosity. It's not so much the toy that's important, but the way it can help your baby learn.
As your baby babbles and explores how to use his or her voice, keep responding. Reinforce the sounds by repeating them and introduce new sounds and simple words, then watch as your baby tries to imitate you.
If you haven't already, introduce books now. When you read to your infant, say the names of the objects, people, and animals as you point to them, and make the sounds of the animals and the objects in the book.
Choose baby books with simple pictures and faces and those with lots of textures to feel, like Pat the Bunny. Also look for cloth, vinyl, and sturdy board books that won't rip and can withstand a little drooling and chewing.
Remember that there's a wide range of what's normal for babies. If you're concerned about the way your baby is developing, speak with your doctor.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: January 2015
|U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) This federal agency collects information about consumer goods and issues recalls on unsafe or dangerous products.|
|Reading Is Fundamental Founded in 1966, RIF is the oldest and largest children's and family nonprofit literacy organization in the United States.|
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|Zero to Three Zero to Three is a national nonprofit organization that promotes the health and development of infants and toddlers.|
|Medical Care and Your 4- to 7-Month-Old Because your baby begins to show his or her personality during these months, your questions may move from simple sleeping and eating concerns to those about physical and social development.|
|Learning, Play, and Your 8- to 12-Month-Old Your baby is learning more about the world through play and is beginning to use words. Keep those toys and games coming!|
|Learning, Play, and Your 1- to 2-Year-Old Kids go from babies to toddlers during this time, from first steps to walking well. They also make major strides in language and communication.|
|Choosing Safe Baby Products Choosing baby products can be confusing, but one consideration must never be compromised: your little one's safety.|
|Communication and Your 4- to 7-Month-Old Your baby's range of sounds and facial expressions continues to grow, and your baby is also imitating sounds, which are the first attempts at speaking.|
|Communication and Your 8- to 12-Month-Old Babies this age might be about to say their first words, and communicate using body language. Read more about communicating with your baby.|
|Your Baby's Vision, Hearing, and Other Senses: 8 Months Here's how you can stimulate your baby's senses and provide a safe environment for exploration.|
|Your Baby's Growth: 4 Months Your baby is growing in many ways. Here's what to expect this month.|
|Your Baby's Growth: 8 Months Your baby is growing by leaps and bounds, and may even be crawling or cruising. Here's what to expect this month.|
|Reading Books to Babies Reading aloud to your baby stimulates developing senses, and builds listening and memory skills that can help your baby grow up to be a reader.|
|Your Baby's Hearing, Vision, and Other Senses: 4 Months Your baby is working on all five senses, understanding and anticipating more and more. How can you stimulate your baby's senses?|
|Sleep and Your 4- to 7-Month-Old By this age, your baby should have a regular sleep pattern, with a few naps a day and a stretch of about 5 or 6 hours at night.|
|Sleep and Your 8- to 12-Month-Old Certain sleep problems may crop up as your child approaches the first birthday, often as he or she becomes aware of time spent away from you.|
|Movement, Coordination, and Your 4- to 7-Month-Old At this age, kids are learning to roll over, reach out to get what they want, and sit up. Provide a safe place to practice moving and lots of interesting objects to reach for.|
What to expect when coming to Akron Children's
For healthcare providers and nurses
Residency & Fellowships, Medical Students, Nursing and Allied Health
For prospective employees and career-seekers
Our online community that provides inspirational stories and helpful information.