Learning, Play, and Your 4- to 7-Month-Old
By 4 months old, your baby has learned to recognize you and familiar caregivers, focus and pay attention to things, and actively engage your attention.
Continue to foster the learning process by engaging, responding, and encouraging exploration. Practice and build on what your little one learns with age-appropriate toys and a safe environment to explore.
What Is My Baby Learning?
Your child will be drawn to colors, patterns, and shapes of different objects and toys. By reaching out for things, babies learn about touch, shape, and texture.
Learning happens when your baby is allowed to hold, inspect, and explore an object. Babies will bring things to their mouths to learn about them. Keep choking hazards and other unsafe items out of reach or, even better, out of sight!
Baby's first words are months away. But your infant is learning a lot about language. Babies can distinguish between different sounds and begin to connect words with activities.
Babies use smiles, squeals, laughs and other sounds to get your attention. Talk to your baby and respond to the sounds they make. This helps babies learn how to be social and take turns in conversation.
How Can I Help My Baby Learn?
By the end of this period, your baby will be rolling over, sitting, and reaching for everything. Create a safe place to explore while you supervise. Make the space inviting and fun with age-appropriate toys in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. It's never too soon to childproof the play space, even if your baby isn't mobile yet — it will happen before you know it.
As your baby starts to babble and explores how to make sounds, keep responding. Reinforce the sounds by repeating them and introduce new words by pointing to and naming the things around you. Then watch as your baby tries to imitate you.
What Should I Read to My Baby?
If you haven't already, introduce books now. When you read to your child, say the names of the objects, people, and animals as you point to them. Make the sounds of the animals and the objects in the book. Encourage your child to hold and explore the books.
Choose baby books with simple pictures and faces. Explore “touch and learn” books with lots of textures to feel. Also look for cloth, vinyl, and sturdy board books that won't rip and can withstand a little drooling and chewing.
How Can I Help My Baby Play?
Ideas for encouraging your baby to learn and play:
- In a safe play space, place a favorite toy or soft ball in front of the baby to reach for.
- Hide a toy — but don't hide it very well — and encourage your baby to find it.
- Play peekaboo.
- Let your baby discover that actions can make things happen. Provide toys that move or make sounds when your baby plays with them, such as baby musical instruments, busy boxes, or see-through toys that show motion.
- Sing nursery rhymes like "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep" and "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."
When Should I Call the Doctor?
There is a wide range of normal development, so some children may gain skills earlier or later than others.
Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about how your baby sees and hears, or if you have any questions or concerns about your baby's development.