5 things you need to know about your four month old
Seeing your baby laugh for the first time is one of the most pleasurable experiences you'll ever have, and this is the month when it's likely to happen. Tickle his toes, sing him a funny song, tell him a joke in baby babble-sooner or later, he'll erupt in peals of laughter.
1. He's now feeding noticeably less often because his tummy is bigger and can hold more milk. Of course, this reduction in feeds is all relative-if you're breastfeeding, you'll find he's still taking between six and eight feeds a day, while a bottlefed baby might take as few as four or five.
2. Although he's a long way off speaking, his understanding of language is amazing. He already knows and understands all the common sounds he hears you make, and loves having a chat' with you, especially if you converse by mimicking his sounds and echoing them back to him.
3. He recognises you and your partner and his brothers or sisters. The flip side of this is he's also aware when people around are strangers and may be a bit wary of them.
4. He's started reaching out for toys, although at this stage he does it with both hands. He's not yet using his thumb to pick things up-when he holds things, he presses his fingers into the palms of his hands to keep them there.
5. When he has hold of an object, he'll try to put it in his mouth. This is often mistaken for hunger or teething-it isn't. He's trying to know the object better. Your baby's mouth is a sensitive area and putting things into it helps him to learn about them.
By four months, he recognises your common sounds and can chat' with you
- With thanks to Professor Annette Dionne Karmiloff-Smith, head of the Neurocognitive Development Unit at the Institute for Child Heath
Help them learn
There's a lot you can do to stimulate and encourage your baby
- Studies show that by four months babies can understand things hidden from view do still exist, so try playing a simple hide-and-seek game. Show your baby a brightly coloured toy, hide it under a blanket-and then pull it out with a flourish.
- As much as possible, let him be part of everything you do. Even though he's not eating solid food yet, let him sit on your knee or in his chair near you while you're at the table, and include him in the conversation. Show him things you're talking about. He'll love being part of the family.
- Research in the US has indicated that classical music-especially Mozart-helps his brain make important connections and may even provide a good foundation for his mathematical knowledge in later life. So impressive have the results been that in Florida, state pre-schools are required to play classical music to pupils. So dig out the classical CDs and play them to your baby.
- Bathtime can be a really enjoyable playtime now. Give your baby time to have lots of kicking fun in the big bath.
- Play the mirror game together. Sit or stand in front of a mirror with him on your knee and move your head, change your expression, wrinkle your nose or throw back your head and laugh. Your baby will be delighted, and will probably try to join in by copying whatever you're doing. He'll also love the chance to interact with another' baby.
At four months old, babies are ready to explore the different textures and colours of the world around them