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Baby Care: Your 4 Month Old Baby

Feb 24, 2022 | 3 Minutes Read

Your baby is really becoming their own little person at 4 months and will be showing you their own unique personality! You may already be seeing character traits that remind you of someone you know—perhaps it already feels like yourself or your partner are being replicated in miniature form. Or maybe your baby is totally different from what you are familiar with and will keep you guessing.

You’ve had a few months now to get to know each other and become more confident in knowing what helps to keep your baby happy. This really is the essence of parenting in the early months: to be able to predict what your baby may want and then provide them with it if possible. There will be times when this is easier than others. Expect some days to be more challenging and try not to let the hard days erode your confidence or get you down.

Feeding 4 months old

Your baby’s feeding should be an efficient process by now. Any early difficulties you might have had with latching likely have improved and your baby has become more competent at feeding. Breast milk or formula will supply all your baby’s nutritional needs at this age, with the current recommendations being to introduce solid foods at 6 months. This is thought to reduce the risk of allergies developing and allow the gut to mature enough to be able to digest solid foods.

Sleeping at 4 months old

Your baby may nap for shorter periods through the day now and sleep for longer uninterrupted periods overnight. They still need to sleep during the day, no matter how they may try to convince you otherwise. Daytime naps influence nighttime sleep so avoid thinking that if you keep your baby up through the day they will sleep better overnight. This simply is not true. Try to settle them in the same way both day and night and avoid rocking, holding, or feeding them to sleep.

At 4 months, babies can really begin to make their wishes known. They can start protesting bed or nap time, even if they have never done this before. Focus on keeping calm and consistent in your bedtime and nap routines. Babies that have learned to self-soothe themselves to sleep will also be able to self-soothe themselves back to sleep when they lightly awaken in the night, which is normal sleep behavior for babies. These are excellent habits to begin to form now.

What about mom?

Mornings may be fine for you now, especially if you’re feeling the benefits of more sleep overnight. But by the afternoons, you could be feeling your energy starting to wane. Make sure you aren’t skipping meals and are eating healthy meals and snacks. Some mothers still get to the middle of the day when their baby is 4 months old and find they haven’t had time to eat. The basics of self-care are just as important now as they ever were. If you don’t nurture yourself and fuel your body, you cannot be in the best possible position to care for your baby.

If it’s been a few months since you’ve invested some time into yourself, try to now. Many mothers have their hair cut and nails done just before their baby’s birth, but these may now be seen as luxuries. Try to book an appointment when your partner can care for the baby or get back-to-back appointments and go with a friend who has a baby. You can watch each other’s baby when it’s your turn in the chair and enjoy some time with your friend too.

Your emotions
You may be finding your emotions are more stable now and you feel more like your old self. Many women find the initial months after having a new baby very stressful, while others can take the whole event in stride and go with the flow. We tend to take our personalities into our parenting roles; it is impossible for one not to be influenced by the other. Don’t compare yourself to others around you.

Surround yourself with friends and family who will support you and help you feel good about the job you are doing. Avoid being around people who are critical or make you feel like what you are doing is not good enough. This is often more about their own feelings of low self-worth than being a fair and accurate assessment of someone else.

Your sleep needs
Enjoy some early nights if it fits in with your baby’s sleep habits. Even if you can’t drop off to sleep immediately, get into the habit of having a warm shower, a glass of milk, reading, listening to the radio, or just winding down. Some women find relaxation tapes and music particularly helpful in switching off the stresses of the day. If your older children are protesting about going to bed, develop a bedtime routine for them which encourages a predictable wind-down time. A quiet bedtime routine for all is helpful for the entire family. Children thrive in households where pleasant routines exist, boundaries are clear, and parents are unified. Creating an atmosphere of calm rather than chaos, comfort, and peace can only help.

Your relationships
If you feel as if you’ve been hibernating the last few months, then it’s time to emerge! See a movie, go for a walk, meet up with friends, and connect with other adults. One activity per day is enough when you have a 4-month-old, and often mornings are a better time to organize something. Toddlers and young children can still need daytime naps until they are around 3 years old and it can be rough trying to keep them up if they’re tired.

Even the most loving relationships can feel strained if one parent is overtired or is responsible for most of the baby or household duties. Ensure you share the load, otherwise resentment or tension can grow between you. The key is to talk honestly and openly with your partner about how you feel.

Behavior at 4 months old

Your baby is really getting to know you and the people closest to them. If you have older children, you’ll find your baby is almost as responsive to them as they are to you. The first year is a time when babies learn who they can trust and who will provide them with what they need to thrive. They are like sponges at this age, with brains that literally mold as a result of how they are nurtured. If you go to your baby when they cry, aim to care for them in a sensitive and loving way and feel empathy for them when they are distressed; Your baby is only going to benefit from this style of care.

Keep your baby away from the television and any other screens at this age. Avoid thinking you need to place them in front of stimulating programs which will help them to learn. The current recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics are that children have no screen time for at least the first 18 months of life. Further, limit the amount to no more than one hour per day of high-quality programs. While you can’t keep them away from a TV screen completely, your face and your voice can provide your baby with the only brain stimulation they need at 4 months and for the next many months to come.

Developmental milestones at 4 months old

Your baby may have developed some head control in the last month or so, but at 4 months they still won’t be able to keep their back steady. Avoid forcing them into a sitting position quite yet; they are still too young. When you pick them up, you’ll find they are nearly able to keep their back and neck in alignment. Just make sure you continue to support their head when you are cuddling them, especially when they are tired and irritable. Babies’ heads are very large in proportion to the rest of their body, and it can be hard work to support it for more than a few minutes.

This is the month when many babies start to roll. Generally, this is from a back-to-front direction first. After a couple of weeks, they’ll head back the other way. Being able to practice every day will help, which is why tummy time is so important. Just don’t expect your baby to stay on their blanket or mat the whole time. You’ll find they are able to move into all sorts of wonderful positions and angles at 4months.

Babies are very adept at communicating their feelings but until they learn to speak, every need is heralded by crying. By 4 months your baby’s vocal range has changed so there will be higher pitched squeals, louder cries, coos, gurgles, and babbles. This is a stunning age when you may feel as if you are starting to get some feedback for all your hard work.

Growth at 4 months old

Babies can double their birth weight from 4 to 6 months, bearing in mind weight gain is only one indicator of growth. Look for fat on your baby’s thighs and tummy, upper arms, and face. This is expected and healthy! The first year is a time of rapid growth, not just for the body but for their brain as well.

Keeping well at 4 months old

This is the age when your baby will need their second round of immunizations. If your baby had an adverse reaction with the first course of vaccines then talk with your provider about actions you can take to help. Taking our children to get their vaccinations is not one of the more pleasant tasks of parenting. But it is necessary, and for such a short period of discomfort, the benefits they provide are significant. If you are anxious about taking your baby alone, ask your partner, a family member, or trusted friend to go with you.

Staying safe at 4 months old

Watch your baby’s legs as they kick and wave them around. Keep them away from tables and chairs when they’re on the floor and ensure they have a clear area to move around. You will find you need to keep your floor extra clean now; your baby will be like a magnet in picking up bits of grime and dust. Try not to be too meticulous about cleanliness, though. Research tells us that a certain amount of dirt and exposure to germs primes the immune system and reduces the likelihood of allergies in childhood.

Keep the pets away from your baby, no matter how gentle you think your animals are. Get into the habit of closing the door to the room where your baby sleeps and do not allow your baby and pet to share the same sleeping surface. Worm your animals regularly and always wash your hands after handling your pets. Although you may feel your pets are members of your family, it is possible for some infections to transfer from animals to humans.

Play and interaction at 4 months old

Keep a supply of rattles, noisy toys, and shakers on hand. At 4 months your baby is learning the early skills of cause and effect and will think they are oh-so-clever when they can make such wonderful sounds. Crunched up paper is a particular favorite at this age as well; just make sure you are the one in control of it.

You’ll find most toys find their way into your baby’s mouth, including your chin and nose. This is the age when babies start to grab their parents’ faces and latch onto any prominent feature. Being drooled on by another person has probably not been high on your list of priorities, but somehow, it’s rather fun when it’s your own baby who’s doing it!

Limit some of your baby’s time in their crib, bouncer, stroller, and sling now. Much of their development is based around movement and having supervised, unrestricted time to play on the floor.

The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.