At this age, babies are learning to roll over, reach out to get what they want, and sit up. Help your baby by providing a safe place to practice moving and lots of interesting objects to reach for or move toward.
How Is My Baby Moving?
By now, babies can hold their head up and push onto their elbows and forearms when lying on their stomach. They begin lifting their head and chest further by straightening their arms and using the chest and back muscles.
Your baby also might begin moving their legs and rocking on their stomach. This helps babies prepare for rolling over and eventually crawling.
During this time, your baby will probably learn to roll over in both directions. So be sure to never leave your baby unattended. Even if your baby never rolled over before, there's always a first time.
With improved neck and trunk strength, babies now start to sit with support. They can lean forward with arms stretched out for support. Your baby will gain the strength and confidence to sit unaided over time, but will still need some help getting into a seated position.
Legs are also getting stronger. Your baby will learn to support all their weight when held in a standing position. While it's important not to force a baby to stand who is not ready, most babies this age enjoy standing (and bouncing!).
Reaching and Grabbing
As babies use their hands more, they will learn to reach and grab for what they want. They're learning to pass an object from one hand to the other and to pick up objects by raking them with their fingers into their grasp.
Give your baby lots of toys with sounds and textures to pick up, shake, and explore. Be careful with small objects because babies will place just about anything they can into their mouths for further exploration, so watch for potential choking hazards.
How Can I Encourage My Baby?
Have a designated safe play space where favorite toys can be kept within your baby's reach. Continue to let your baby have supervised tummy time. In this position, encourage your baby to lift the head and chest off the floor. Make some noises, shake a rattle to entice your baby to look, then lift up. Place a favorite toy in front of your baby to encourage forward movement.
Let your baby practice sitting by supporting them with your hands or with a pillow behind their back. In a sitting position, your baby's hands are free to reach for and explore toys.
From a sitting position, help your baby pull up to stand. While standing, let your baby bounce a few times before lowering them back down.
These three positions (tummy, sitting, standing) let babies exercise their muscles and master the skills needed to reach the next milestone.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
Normal child development tends to follow a certain pattern. The skills that babies develop early serve as building blocks for future skills. Still, the time it takes to develop these skills can vary widely among babies.
Let your doctor know if your baby doesn't do the following:
By 4 months:
hold a toy put in their hands
keep their head steady while being held
lift their head and push up onto elbows/forearms during tummy time
By 6 months:
roll from tummy to back
lean on their hands when sitting
reach for objects
Not reaching individual milestones doesn't always mean there is a problem. But talk to your doctor if you have questions or concerns about your baby's development.