What Should a 4-Month-Old Baby Be Doing?

Reviewed on 6/11/2021

Growth at four months is so intense that babies often regress in other areas. At four months old, babies advance developmentally in gross motor skills, fine motor skills, communication and hearing, problem solving, learning, understanding, socially and emotionally.
Growth at four months is so intense that babies often regress in other areas. At four months old, babies advance developmentally in gross motor skills, fine motor skills, communication and hearing, problem solving, learning, understanding, socially and emotionally.

According to studies, growth at four months is so intense that babies often regress in other areas, such as sleeping. The baby's language ability will go from coos and the occasional babble to sounds and consonants that form the building blocks of communication. Most babies at four months of age need 11 to 12 hours of sleep at night and three to four hours during the day. They will still be eating one to two times at night. Most babies will take three to four naps a day. Some naps are just 30 minutes long. Short naps are normal at this age because it’s highly unusual for babies to take four one-hour naps. Babies should achieve the following milestones by four months:

Gross motor skills

  • The baby will roll their body from the abdomen to their back.
  • They will be able to hold their head steady in line with their torso without support. Their head lagging posteriorly when lifted will stop.
  • The baby will push up on their legs when their feet touch a hard surface.
  • The baby can push up with their elbows when lying on their abdomen.

Fine motor skills

  • The baby will clutch at objects. They will reach out and move their hands while lying on their back.

Communication and hearing

  • Laugh out loud.
  • Move their body toward a voice.
  • Make babbling sounds, such as “ah-goo.”
  • Listen to people who are talking.
  • Make a vocal sound when a person stops talking.
  • Cries in different ways to express hunger, pain or being tired.

Social and emotional

  • The baby will recognize their mother and familiar people at a distance.

Problem-solving, learning and understanding

  • The baby will reach for objects and look at them while holding them.
  • The baby will be keen to explore their surroundings. Try giving them materials of different textures to explore and a rattle to shake because they will love discovering how objects feel and sound.

Others

  • The baby is also more likely to be distracted by what’s going on around them, so feeding may become a little trickier.
  • As the vision develops, the baby will enjoy looking at brightly-colored objects.

To summarize, babies at four months age may achieve

  • Following nearby objects with their eyes.
  • Crying when exposed to different feelings.
  • The ability to sit with support.
  • The ability to carry toys with both hands.
  • Watching new faces and objects closely.
  • Recognizing different sounds and words.
  • Moving a little when placed on their abdomen.

Apart from these, the baby may also start developing the following milestones (emerging milestones):

  • Can track moving objects.
  • Make facial expressions for different feelings.
  • Can sit without support for brief periods and switch hands with a toy.
  • Curious when shown different faces and objects.
  • Recognize and respond to their name.
  • Able to crawl when laid down on the abdomen.

Parents should:

  • Play with the baby while they are on their abdomen on the floor.
  • Read with the baby. Hold them close so the baby can see their parent’s face and the book.
  • Talk about what is going on with the child and listen to their reply.
  • Show the baby different colors, shapes and textures.
  • Smile and make funny faces at the child.
  • See what grabs the child’s attention and have a conversation about it.
  • Change their voice when telling a story, such as by growling, being silly or speaking in a husky voice and seeing how the baby reacts.

Remember, not all babies will reach these milestones at the same pace. Always speak with the pediatrician if there are any queries about the baby's growth and development. Parents can help the baby achieve these milestones by talking to them throughout the day. Remember, it's never too early to talk to babies.

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References
CDC: "Important Milestones: You’re Baby by Four Months." https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/milestones-4mo.html

UNICEF Parenting. "Your Baby's Developmental Milestones at 4 Months." https://www.unicef.org/parenting/child-development/your-babys-developmental-milestones-4-months

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