Understanding your four month old

Your baby has been in the world for over 100 days now. They have gone from being a sleepy little bundle of joy to one that is more alert and interactive. The time has probably flown by for you. You are not sure where the days have gone, they have probably felt long but overall, the months have slipped by.

You may or may not have noticed but crying should be starting to decrease a little and day sleeps may or may not have consolidated. Nothing is perfect, you cannot compare your experience to your mothers’ group as feeding can be frequent or very spaced, neither right nor wrong. Every person’s breasts are different. Some mothers needing to do frequent feeds where as another person can give feeds more spaced. Overall, your babies are probably receiving about the same amount of volume in a 24-hour period, its mother nature working their magic.

A baby at four months old is going through huge developmental changes and I want to explain those a little more. Your baby is wanting to understand their relationship with the world and explore this relationship further.

Development at four months

Toys are now of interest to your baby. The hands can be used in conjunction with the eyes. This means they can see a toy and then reach for it with one hand. They then do things like shake it or swipe at dangling toys. Their fingers and toes can provide hours of entertainment, let alone a mirror where they can see themselves. The play can be a little more independent, always on the floor in a safe place. Never at a height or on a bed as you never know when the rolling will start.

In terms of their physical development they can push down through their legs when standing on a hard surface. They can hold their head up steady and unsupported. Rolling is starting to occur. The minute they roll once, they should not have their hands contained for sleeping, its time for the hands to come out. The hands are in the mouth often and are a great way of self-soothing. On their tummy, they can push up onto their elbows.

Babies at this age are becoming very social, they love to smile spontaneously and especially at people. They really enjoy playing with people and when the play stops, they can start crying. They are copy cats, they see a facial expression or the movements we make and they try it out for themselves.

Curiosity for the world is infectious at this stage. You see them following moving objects, tracking movement from side to side with their eyes. They watch faces closely and recognise familiar people and objects at a distance. They let you know if they are happy or sad and respond to your affection.

Babbling is your baby’s new favourite thing to do. They try and copy the sounds they are hearing.  It’s a bit of fun to explore this. Try boo, mama, dada, simple sounds which they will try and mimic. You start to be able to tell the differences in cries, when they are hungry or in pain and the tired cry.

Feeding at four months

Feeding at this age can be really annoying and challenging. They hear or see any movement and they are distracted checking out what is happening in the world. If milk feeds are challenging either breast or bottle, you may need to move into a room with fewer distraction. (I know this can be near impossible with young siblings trying to help you out or requiring supervision, you can only do your best.

Another topic which often comes up at this age is introducing solids. Wow, what a contentious topic it is and how many opinions can you read and hear. The main point here is milk is the main source of nutrition in the first six months of life. Introducing solids needs to be taken into consideration with your child’s growth and development. You are the expert of your child and follow the advice of your medical team or Child and Family Health Nurse.  

Surviving the four month regression

So when we understand all that is going on in your child’s brain and development at this age, it is no wonder there are some changes, “regression” or progression, whichever way you want to look at it occurring. Your baby needs opportunities to explore and increase their sensory experiences to help them learn about the relationship with the world. Yes, you may have some catnapping this can be due to being under tired or overtired, their sleep requirements are changing and often we expect them to sleep more than they need. Yes, one friend may have a baby that needs 15 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period, but another may have lower requirements.  Everyone is different.  

At four months it is unrealistic to expect a blissful twelve hours of sleep at night as that isn’t a realistic expectation but some reasons i work with families include:

  • Catnapping
  • Transitioning from swaddling
  • Feed to sleep associations
  • Feeding issues

I enjoy working with families at this age as you can not love these babies enough. You can work towards consolidation of sleep in really gentle ways that nurture both of your souls so that you are able to live the life you want.