After four months with your baby, he's transformed into his own person—complete with a blossoming personality, picking up new skills every day. Now, you're entering a sweet spot in the first year with your babe. The time period between four and eight months should be pretty mellow as far as issues go, but your little one will be growing and developing at a rapid rate. Know what to expect and how to usher in more development as you watch your baby's personality take form.
Understands Language. Your little Einstein spent the last three months learning the differences in voice tone and sound, as well as communication with you as a parent. Now he's ready to put all of that knowledge into action as he starts to interact with you more. Pediatric speech language pathologist Melisa Brown offers some insight as to what you should expect this month. "Babbling should begin, taking turns in vocalizing with caregivers, producing a variety of vowel sounds, and begin to recognize his name when called by pausing and looking for the speaker."
- Talk back to your little chatterbox! When he's babbling away, you'll probably get a huge smile if you babble right back to him. Sure, it sounds crazy—but it's definitely fun and the perfect way to play with your baby.
- Make sure to use your child's name as much as possible to give him plenty of practice in responding. It's easy to talk about your babe like he's not in the room by referring to him as "the baby", but using his name will help him learn to respond faster.
Rolls Over. This month is pretty huge when it comes to firsts, so we hope you have your camera ready! Rolling over shows that your little guy finally has control over his head and neck and can get mobile. Tisa Johnson-Hooper, a pediatrician with Henry Ford Hospital, points out that your baby will probably start by rolling side to side before finally flipping from his back to his front and vice versa.
- Keep up with tummy time. Yes, it's been four months of getting down on the floor, but your work will be worth it—your little one will have better control of his head and neck. Once he learns to roll over, you need to ensure that you're close by during tummy time, since a mobile baby can easily roll into danger.
- If your baby isn't rolling yet, try placing a toy just out of his reach while he lays on his belly. Your little wiggle worm will work to get near the toy, and it might even inspire him to flop over onto his back to get ahold of it.
Uses His Mouth to Explore. When you hand your little guy a toy, what's the first thing he does? That's right; he pops it right into his kisser. That's because babies explore tastes, textures, and smells with their gummy little mouths. You'll have to be extra vigilant about what your baby hangs onto; chances are he'll try to eat it!
- Remove the batteries from toys that don't have a secure screwed-on backing. Clip backings can easily pop off, and batteries are a major choking hazard if your baby ever gets ahold of one. Small alkaline batteries also pose a risk if swallowed. Make sure all of his toys have no small or loose parts.
- Offer safe toys that have textures to explore. A teething blanket with rubbery corners and a crinkling center makes for a world of exploration with your curious tot. He'll happily chew and it'll help to relieve any beginning teething pain.
Fusses for Attention. Before, your infant cried because he had no other choice. It's a baby's instinct to cry when he's hungry, tired, bored, or anything else. But your brainy baby has wised up, and now knows how to work the system. He'll cry specifically to get your attention.
- "Soothe baby when he cries," suggests Johnson-Hooper. "You cannot spoil a baby." While you don't want to encourage water works, your baby needs to feel secure in the fact that you're nearby. Letting your little one "cry it out" at this age is completely ineffective, and could lead to some serious attachment and separation issues. Just remember that this phase won't last forever, so it's fine to attend to your fussy infant.
Recognizes Parents. While at first it probably seemed like your baby would go to anyone and anyone and still sleep soundly, those days are almost over. Four-month-olds can easily pinpoint their parents based on sound, smell, and sight. You might even find yourself rewarded with a grin when you walk into the room—parent payday!
- Let your little one get used to your scent. If he seems upset when you're not near and you need to get some things done—like the 10-foot pile of laundry in your bedroom—a small square of fabric cut from one of your shirts can help your baby feel calm with your scent nearby.
- Don't be worried if your child clearly prefers one parent over the other; it's completely normal for babies to go through phases of attachment to certain people. It's probably going to be short-lived, and then you'll be jockeying for the title of "favorite parent" again.
Laughs! We told you to get the video camera ready! Your usually somber babe will probably start to giggle during the fourth month, which means you'll want to make him laugh again and again. It's hard to tell what tickles a baby's funnybone; all we know is that it's adorable.
- Bring out your inner comedian. Babies love to be surprised, so try hiding just out of your little one's sight and pop out at him—in a gentle way, of course—to see if that gets him going. You can't really force him to laugh, but you can definitely take notes on what seems to make him smile so you can try again in the future. Older siblings can definitely help too, and it's a great way for your kids to bond.
Your little 4-month-old is finally starting to pay you back for late nights and diaper blowouts. With a megawatt smile and a heartwarming giggle, it's hard not to instantly forgive the first few months of parenthood. And guess what? It just keeps getting better, so we hope you have room on your camera!