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Children's Health System - Alabama

Children's of Alabama
Healthcare as amazing as their potential
www.childrensal.org
1600 7th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35233
(205) 638 - 9100


Your Child’s Development: 4 Months

Babies this age are learning how to interact with the world around them. To get your attention, your baby might cry, fuss, or squeal. To get a better view of the room, babies may use newfound strength to push up on their arms while lying on the belly.

Doctors use certain milestones to tell if a baby is developing as expected. There's a wide range of what's considered normal, so some babies gain skills earlier or later than others. Babies who were born prematurely may reach milestones later. Always talk with your doctor about your baby's progress.

Here are some things your baby might be doing:

Communication and Language Skills

  • smiles, laughs, squeals, and blows bubbles
  • begins to coo in response to your coos
  • turns toward voices
  • has different cries for hunger, tiredness, or pain

Movement and Physical Development

  • may roll from front to back
  • begins to reach and grasp for objects
  • brings hands or toys to their mouth
  • has good head control when sitting
  • holds up the head and chest, supported by the arms, while on tummy

Social and Emotional Development

  • smiles when something pleasing happens, such as a belly tickle, and responds to affection
  • initiates social interaction with coos or babbles
  • imitates sounds and facial expressions
  • self-soothes, such as sucking on a fist when hungry
  • gets excited when a caregiver approaches

Cognitive Skills (Thinking and Learning)

  • is easily distracted by surroundings (for example, a baby that used to be focused on nursing or sucking from a bottle is now interrupted by the slightest noise)
  • starts to predict routines (for example, stops crying when placed in a nursing position or flexes hips in anticipation of a diaper change)
  • repeats behaviors that produce a desired effect, such as batting a toy to move it
  • explores toys by grasping, mouthing, and looking at them

When Should I Call the Doctor?

You know your baby best. Share your concerns — even little ones — with your baby's doctor.

Tell the doctor if your baby does not:

  • coo or make sounds
  • smile at people
  • hold head steady when held in a supported position 
  • follow people or things
  • swipe at nearby toys
  • respond to voices or other pleasing sounds

If you ever notice that your baby had skills but has lost them or shows weakness on one side of the body, tell your doctor.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: January 2021