Your baby is 4 months old, which means that a third of their first year has gone by. For you, this has probably been extremely fast, and you and your baby have seen a lot of changes. Your little one has evolved from being a tiny, rather sleepy being to an alert, small person with their own wants, needs, and desires.
A baby at 4 months goes through more developmental changes as they get even more used to and aware of the world around them. Let’s take a look and see what your little one is either already doing or will soon start to do:
At this age we see more baby growth spurts as your little one continues to put on weight. With this weight gain, your baby will feed a little less frequently and will start to settle into more of a meal schedule, wanting to feed around three times a day like other children and adults.
At this age, babies get distracted by other stimuli during mealtimes. In fact, breastfeeding a four month baby can be quite annoying as they keep breaking off and turning their head to see what’s going on. If you find that your baby won’t eat because they are watching what their older siblings are doing and they get distracted by the noise, you may need to breastfeed in another, quieter room.
Just as your baby is attracted and stimulated by objects, they can now reach out to them and even grab them. Part of their exploration is to put the desired item in their mouths. At this time, you may notice that your baby is producing a lot of saliva. At this age, many babies start teething, but one does not usually see an actual tooth before six months.
Four months is a good time to start putting objects like a light rattle or a toy that makes a sound in front of your baby. A cradle gym is also a good idea, because your little one will start to learn to relate the sound to the toy. This will also stimulate your baby towards more activity and play.
Another important part of baby development at 4 months is that your little one will begin to play on their own. Sometimes, they don’t need toys for stimulation because they have their own inbuilt playthings – their hands and feet. A baby at 4 months can lie there exploring their fingers and toes for quite a while. In fact, if you have twins, it can be quite amusing watching them putting each others fingers in their mouths!
One of the most crucial changes in your baby’s development is acquiring language skills. Your baby is not going to start talking just yet, but you will start to hear articulated sounds, such as “ma-ma.” You may think that your little one is calling you by name, but in fact at this stage this is not yet true. A fun game to play with baby is to say, “Bah,” or “Boo,” to them and watch them try to say it back to you. You can also gently copy and parrot their faces and sounds, which the baby will find very funny and will also teach them the rudiments of conversation.
If you were careful about your baby’s safety until now, never leaving them unattended on a sofa or a bed, you were 100 percent correct. However, this is going to become even more of a necessity now because this is the age when most babies learn to roll over. Your little one will also start pushing up the head and shoulders in more energetic push-ups. At first, your baby might get a little bewildered by such actions, so just be there with a few reassuring cuddles if there are some tears in the beginning.
As you have probably noticed, certain aspects of baby care are very much the subject of debate and over the years opinions have changed. One of these issues is when to feed a baby solids. Many parents express an interest in starting baby on solids at 4 months. After all, this used to be a very common practice. In our grandparents’ generation, many babies started eating solid food when they were even younger.
However, modern medical opinion leans towards keeping a baby exclusively on breast milk or formula until the age of 6 months. The reason for this is the immaturity of a baby’s gut. Getting a baby to eat solids too early can pose a risk of developing food allergies. At this age, most babies do not yet have the mechanism to determine exactly when they are properly full, and according to some medical opinions, this can lead to the infant growing up to develop obesity in later life.
On the other hand, as this is one of the baby growth spurts that your infant will experience, you may find that around this period breast milk is no longer enough. Some women find that their supply begins to taper off. For this reason, there is an argument that if you have no other choice, you can start to give your baby very light, easy-to-digest solids at this point, such as baby rice cereal or a little mashed banana. Your baby will probably not eat more than about half a tablespoon, and most of this will probably dribble out of their mouth at the beginning.
Don’t worry if your baby does dribble the food out or does not seem to want it. It could mean that they are not quite ready for solids at this time even if you initially thought so. If this is the case, then wait a few weeks and try again gently. There is no point in forcing an infant to eat solid baby foods, and especially not at this age when it is really not yet necessary.
In any case, if you think that your baby may need to start on solid food at the age of 4 months, you should ask your health care provider before you make a final decision. As we have stated above, it is not a good idea to start with solids until the baby is truly ready.
For more on the subject of feeding a baby solids, click here.