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

Medically Reviewed on 6/9/2022

What Skills and Abilities Does a 4-Month-Old Infant Have?

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 4 months is so intense that babies often regress in other areas. At 4 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 4 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 4 months of age need 11-12 hours of sleep at night and 3-4 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 1-hour naps. Babies should achieve the following milestones by 4 months:

Gross motor skills

  • A baby will roll his body from his abdomen to his 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 bodies 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

  • Babies will recognize their mothers and familiar people at a distance.

Problem-solving, learning, and understanding

  • The baby will reach for objects and look at them while holding them.
  • Babies 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 4 months of age may achieve the following:

  • 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 do the following:

  • Play with the baby while he is on his tummy on the floor.
  • Read with a baby. Hold a baby close so he can see his 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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Medically Reviewed on 6/9/2022
References
UNICEF Parenting. "Your Baby's Developmental Milestones at 4 Months." <https://www.unicef.org/parenting/child-development/your-babys-developmental-milestones-4-months>.

United States. CDC: "Important Milestones: Your Baby by Four Months." <https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/milestones-4mo.html>.