As your baby turns four months old, they are likely making their personality—and opinions!—known to you. And there is no sweeter way to know you are doing the right thing than a baby’s smile or laugh. Still, it is helpful to have a baseline understanding of four-month-old milestones. Then you can track progress and consult with your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns.
As your baby emerges from the fourth trimester, they may seem more ready to engage with the world.
Here’s what to expect with your four-month-old baby milestones.
Up for a little homework assignment, mama? Here are some four months old baby activities to support your cutie’s development.
Like a language without words, your baby is getting a loud and clear message when you hug them—even as young as four months old. As researchers have shown, babies know the difference between a comforting hug and just being held to be carried or fed. Why does that matter to you? Babies who feel loved and supported also benefit cognitively and developmentally.
When you’re talking about your baby’s developmental milestones, it’s natural to talk about the love and care they feel in the same breath. So, yes, working on tummy time, reading books and singing songs can all do wonders for your four-month-old’s development—but be sure you fill in with a lot of snuggles, too.
Four-month-old baby 101:
*This article is sponsored by ParentPal. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.
Your life may still feel like a blur of feedings, diaper changes and short spurts of sleep. That new baby fog means you usually have no clue what day it is or why the car keys are in the fridge. But this month is the perfect time to actually start a routine. Having a basic schedule helps the day flow, which is good for you and baby.
According to Dr. Tovah Klein, head of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development and author of How Toddlers Thrive, routines help even 2-month-olds anticipate what’s going to happen next. She explains:
This kind of predictability helps her feel safe, calm and trusting of parents and caregivers. This creates a foundation for learning how to love the important people in her life and developing good self-esteem as she grows.
To help support your baby’s development and track routines like sleep and feeding, you can try an app like ParentPal™. ParentPal is the only all-in-one parenting app with everything you need to support, track, and celebrate your child’s healthy development. Developed by Teaching Strategies, the leaders in early childhood development, and the creators of Baby Einstein, ParentPal provides trusted, research-based guidance and parenting tools at your fingertips. You can use the Daily Plan of age-appropriate activities, Milestones, Sleep, Health & Wellness Trackers, and a vast library of age-based resources for your middle-of-the-night parenting questions.*
And speaking of learning, this month your kiddo is becoming more interested in pictures and objects. You’ll see the beginning of hand-eye coordination, too. (You’re still her primary focus, so keep up the talking, singing and silly faces.) From story time to play time, these week-by-week tips from child development psychologist Dr. Holly Ruhl will help you navigate the month:
Instilling an early love of reading can strengthen language skills and parent-child relationships. Squeeze in that oh-so-important 20 minutes of reading by visiting your local library or bookstore for story time. This activity will deepen your tot’s love of books and promote mama-baby bonding.
Infants have an innate love of gazing at faces. Spend a few minutes each day attending to baby’s favorite faces: the ones staring back in the mirror! Make silly faces and label baby’s facial features. Gazing in the mirror may promote baby’s sense of self-recognition. This understanding will appear slightly later and is the basis for baby’s later self-confidence.
Your little bundle is developing rudimentary hand-eye coordination. Promote coordination by fostering interaction with baby’s fascinating surroundings. Help your tot gently stroke household pets. Dangle a textured, crinkly toy for those little hands to swat. Lay baby on an activity gym and soak in the baby bliss as your little one intently reaches for toys overhead.
Are family and friends antsy to cuddle with the new addition? Take baby to visit loved ones for exposure to new faces, voices and styles of play. Plus, social support from friends and relatives around 3 months can help you be a more responsive mama and give baby supplemental support, leading to more secure attachment by 12 months.
The first day of school can be hard for everyone, mama. Here’s how to use the Montessori method to help your child adjust.
No matter how excited your child was to pick out a new lunchbox and backpack this year, there will likely be days when they just don’t want to go to school. Whether they’re saying “I don’t like school” when you’re home playing together or having a meltdown on the way to the classroom, there are things you can say to help ease their back-to-school nerves.
More than the exact words you use, the most important thing is your attitude, which your child is most definitely aware of. It’s important to validate their feelings while conveying a calm confidence that school is the right place for them to be and that they can handle it.
If you have a young child, they may be genuinely frightened of leaving you and going to school. Tell them that school is a safe place full of people who care about them. If you say this with calm confidence, they’ll believe you. No matter what words you say, if your child senses your hesitation, your own fear of leaving them, they will not feel safe. How can they be safe if you’re clearly scared of leaving them? Try to work through your own feelings about dropping them off before the actual day so you can be a calm presence and support.
It’s best to keep your goodbye short, even if your child is crying or clinging to you, and trust that you have chosen a good place for them to be. Most children recover from hard goodbyes quickly after the parent leaves.
If your child is having a hard time saying goodbye, give one good strong hug and tell them that you love them and know they can do this. Saying something like, “It’s just school, you’ll be fine” belittles their feelings. Instead, acknowledge that this is hard, but that you’re confident they’re up to the task. This validates the anxiety they’re feeling while ending on a positive note.
After a quick reassurance, make your exit, take a deep breath and trust that they will be okay.
Talk your child through the daily schedule at school, including as many details as possible. Talk about what will happen when you drop them off, what kinds of work they will do, when they will eat lunch and play outside, and who will come to get them in the afternoon.
It can help to do this many times so that they become comfortable with the new daily rhythm.
Give your child a frame of reference for when you will be returning.
If your child can tell time, you can tell them you’ll see them at 3:30pm. If they’re younger, tell them what will happen right before you pick them up. Perhaps you’ll come get them right after lunch, or maybe it’s after math class.
Giving this reference point can help reassure them you are indeed coming back and that there is a specific plan for when they will see you again. As the days pass, they’ll realize that you come consistently every day when you said you would and their anxieties will ease.
Find out what happens first in your child’s school day and help them mentally transition to that task. In a Montessori school, the children choose their own work, so you might ask about which work your child plans to do first.
If they’re in a more traditional school, find an aspect of the school morning they enjoy and talk about that.
Thinking about the whole school day can seem daunting, but helping your child focus on a specific thing that will happen can make it seem more manageable.
Remind your child of the friends they will see when they get to school.
If you’re not sure who your child is bonding with, ask the teacher. On the way to school, talk about the children they can expect to see and try asking what they might do together.
If your child is new to the school, it might help to arrange a playdate with a child in their class to help them form strong relationships.
While school drop-off is not the time to wallow in the hard feelings of not wanting to go to school, if your child brings up concerns after school or on the weekend, take some time to listen to them.
Children can very easily be swayed by our leading questions, so keep your questions very general and neutral so that your child can tell you what they’re really feeling.
They may reveal that they just miss you while they’re gone, or may tell you that a certain person or kind of work is giving them anxiety.
Let them know that you empathize with how they feel, but try not to react too dramatically. If you think there is an issue of real concern, talk to the teacher about it, but your reaction can certainly impact the already tentative feelings about going to school.
Help your child brainstorm some solutions to make them more comfortable with going to school.
Choose a time at home when they are calm. Get out a pen and paper to show that you are serious about this.
If they miss you, would a special note in their pocket each morning help? If another child is bothering them, what could they say or who could they ask for help? If they’re too tired in the morning, could an earlier bedtime make them feel better?
Make it a collaborative process, rather than a situation where you’re rescuing them, to build their confidence.
Choose a time when your child is not talking about school and start talking about your day. Tell them the best part of your day, then try asking about the best part of their day. Practice this every day.
It’s easy to focus on the hardest parts of an experience because they tend to stick out in our minds. Help your child recognize that, even if they don’t always want to go, there are likely parts of school they really enjoy.
If your child is having a hard time saying goodbye, remind them of what you will do together after you pick them up from school.
Even if this is just going home and making dinner, what your child likely craves is time together with you, so help them remember that it’s coming.
It is totally normal for children to go through phases when they don’t want to go to school. If you’re concerned, talk to your child’s teacher and ask if they seem happy and engaged once they’re in the classroom.
To your child, be there to listen, to help when you can, and to reassure them that their feelings are natural and that they are so capable of facing the challenges of the school day, even when it seems hard.
They transition seamlessly for indoor play.
Keeping kids entertained is a battle for all seasons. When it’s warm and sunny, the options seem endless. Get them outside and get them moving. When it’s cold or rainy, it gets a little tricker.
So with that in mind, we’ve rounded up some of the best toys for toddlers and kids that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, many are Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.
As longtime fans of Stomp Rockets, we’re pretty excited about their latest launch–Stomp Racers. Honestly, the thrill of sending things flying through the air never gets old. Parents and kids alike can spend hours launching these kid-powered cars which take off via a stompable pad and hose.
Tiny thrill-seekers will love this kid-powered coaster which will send them (safely) sailing across the backyard or play space. The durable set comes with a high back coaster car and 10.75 feet of track, providing endless opportunities for developing gross motor skills, balance and learning to take turns. The track is made up of three separate pieces which are easy to assemble and take apart for storage (but we don’t think it will be put away too often!)
This set has everything your little secret agent needs to solve whatever case they might encounter: an ID badge, finger scanner, walkie-talkie handset, L-shaped scale and coloring comic (a printable file is also available for online download) along with a handy belt to carry it all along. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.
Kiddos can jump, stretch, climb and balance with these non-slip stepping stones. The 20-piece set can be arranged in countless configurations to create obstacle courses, games or whatever they can dream up.
For the littlest ones, it’s easy to keep it simple. Take their sand box toys and use them in the bath! This 12-piece set includes a variety of scoops, molds and sifters that can all be stored in sweet little wagon.
Filled with sand or water, this compact-sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama’s ideal trifecta 😉). It’s big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it’s going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.
Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they’re learning.
Designed for ages 3 and up, My First Flybar offers kiddos who are too young for a pogo stick a frustration-free way to get their jump on. The wide foam base and stretchy bungee cord “stick” is sturdy enough to withstand indoor and outdoor use and makes a super fun addition to driveway obstacle courses and backyard races. Full disclosure—it squeaks when they bounce, but don’t let that be a deterrent. One clever reviewer noted that with a pair of needle-nose pliers, you can surgically remove that sucker without damaging the base.
Whether they’re digging up sand in the backyard or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? It’s made from recycled plastic milk cartons.
Burn off all that extra energy hippity hopping across the lawn or the living room! This hopper ball is one of the top rated versions on Amazon as it’s thicker and more durable than most. It also comes with a hand pump to make inflation quick and easy.
There’s just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it’s tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.
This built-to-last rocking seesaw is a fun way to get the wiggles out in the grass or in the playroom. The sturdy design can support up to 77 pounds, so even older kiddos can get in on the action.
Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it’s a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.
Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they’re great for indoors as well.
Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.
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It is possible to make a no-brainer decision that still has seriously positive effects.
This article is sponsored by Organic Valley. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.
As a mama in 2021, I love when I encounter teachable, problem-solving moments with my kids. One of the biggest recurring themes is that our actions have repercussions—in our lives and in the lives of others. And, sometimes, little shifts can have significant effects.
Recently, one item on my family’s to-do list was to be more mindful about how we’re treating our bodies and the planet. That quickly led us to explore our food choices. And, thankfully, we didn’t have to do anything too dramatic to reap some wonderful benefits: Switching to organic dairy from Organic Valley was a simple-yet-impactful place for my family to start because we already consume dairy products.
While I know there are multiple ways to make a difference, this was one easy (and delicious) starting point for our family. Now we just consume dairy products we feel good about—in more ways than one!
All too often, the “convenient” foods marketed to moms seem to come with a catch like unsavory ingredients or subpar manufacturing standards. Not so with organic dairy products from Organic Valley! I have the peace of mind from knowing that the products I’m serving have been produced with the highest standards of animal care and aren’t padded with sugar or other unpronounceable ingredients.
On a practical level, switching to organic dairy was so simple—Organic Valley’s string cheese is my kids’ most-requested lunch box item anyway. Making the full switch to organic dairy was as easy as picking one carton of milk over another or grabbing the Organic Valley butter.
There’s no denying that milk is a nutritious beverage for kids. Loaded with calcium, protein, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and more, milk helps fuel my kids and support their growth. However, not all glasses of milk are created equally. Organic Valley Grassmilk has higher levels of Omega-3 & conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) compared to conventional milk.
Just as important to me as what the products include is what they don’t include. Because Organic Valley is USDA-certified organic, I know there are never GMOs, toxic pesticides, antibiotics or added hormones in my kids’ glass of milk or bite of cheese.
I first discovered Organic Valley because of their organic promise and delicious products—but our enthusiasm only deepened when we learned more about their commitment to sustainability. That’s big for my family: We come face-to-face with environmental issues on a daily basis because we live in the western United States, where water shortages and wildfires have gone beyond the crisis point. As a result, my kids and I have talked a lot about ways to help the environment. And, instead of getting burnt out on trying to do all the things, switching to Organic Valley helped us feel empowered that our choices can lead to positive changes.
Why? Because Organic Valley “walks the walk” when it comes to making the world better by practicing climate-smart farming with a pasture-based system. Not only does this system allow cows to spend 50% more time outside than USDA standards require, but Organic Valley has a lower carbon footprint because of their on-farm sustainability practices. The business itself even uses renewable power.
For me, switching to organic dairy was an eye-opener not only because I realized how easy a change it could be but also because it inspired our family to look for other small changes we could make. For example, we already ride bikes for fun with the kids, so we started riding them to school instead of driving. We already spend money on disposable plastic bags, so we switched to invest instead in reusable ones.
Make the switch to organic dairy with Organic Valley. Explore the products and get a coupon code on the website.
Never suffer through another hot day when a stranger’s pool can become your personal oasis.
Looking for something new to do with kids—near where you live, or close to a vacation destination?
Always wanted to take a dip in your trendy neighbor’s super cool (but probably super expensive to maintain) pool?
You’ll want to check out Swimply, the pool rental service that lets you rent local pools by the hour. Think Airbnb, but for swimming pools. It’s all the convenience of a backyard pool, but none of the work.
I got to try Swimply out this past summer with my four kids and we had a blast. We communicated with the pool owner (the ‘host’) via app only, which enabled us to book for two adults and four children. When we arrived, we walked straight into the backyard where our swimming oasis awaited.
While everything was clean and set up for us, we didn’t ever see the host, similar to a home rental experience. During our swim, we blasted music. Ate snacks poolside. Had a family cannonball contest. My son read a book by the picnic table. And then we packed up and went home without any need to worry about pool maintenance, cleanup or anything else. (Note: Many, though not all, of the pools provide bathroom access via Port-A-Potty or a poolside/pool house restroom. You’ll want to check and work that into your plans if there’s no restroom to use).
You can book far-in-advance swims, or find a local one available last minute. You’ll pay the hourly fee, plus a small service/cleaning charge for each visit. There are thousands of pools available all over the country, and the company is soon launching a related space rental service, which will let you rent tennis courts, fire pits or other beautiful outdoor spaces, also by the hour.
Check out Swimply’s website or download their app. Just like Airbnb, you can search by your date and desired location.
Find local swimming pools and sort through reviewed listings, browse pictures, and pick one that meets your needs. You can sort through options that include diving boards, heated pools, grills and hot tub access.
Chat with the host to finalize visit details.
P.S. Interested in renting your own backyard pool out to bring in some money and share the floaty fun? You can sign up to host here.
A new study is challenging what we previously thought.
When it comes to deciding when to try for another baby, there’s no one right answer, but there are guidelines.
The World Health Organization previously recommended mothers wait 24 months between pregnancies in order to reduce risks associated with back-to-back births, but new research suggests that a shorter time frame—even just one year—can be enough space to reduce risks to mama and baby.
As America’s moms are getting older, this news may come as a real relief to mothers over 35 who are keen to have close-in-age children but are also weighing the risks that come with advanced maternal age, like chromosomal anomalies and infertility. When you’re dealing with those issues, 24 months between pregnancies can seem like a long time to wait.
Researchers with the University of British Columbia and the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health looked at the outcomes of 148,544 pregnancies in Canada using data from birth records, hospitalization records, prescription data for infertility information and census records.
The study, recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that getting pregnant less than 12 months after giving birth is linked with increased risks for women of all ages. The research suggests that for young moms short spacing between births can sometimes be due to unplanned pregnancies, but for moms over 35, closely-spaced pregnancies are often intentional.
In either case, the risks of spontaneous labor are reduced when pregnancies are at least a year apart.
The study found that women over 35 who conceived six months after a previous birth, have a 1.2% risk (12 cases per 1,000 pregnancies) of maternal mortality or severe morbidity, but when moms waited 18 months, the risk factor dropped to 0.5%(five cases per 1,000 pregnancies).
“Older mothers for the first time have excellent evidence to guide the spacing of their children,” said the study’s senior author, Dr. Wendy Norman in a UBC news release.
According to Norman, even waiting half of the previously recommended wait time will help mothers, without adding as much anxiety about the wait. “Achieving that optimal one-year interval should be doable for many women, and is clearly worthwhile to reduce complication risks,” she explained.
A lot of parents dream of having children close in age and this study proves that it is possible, even for older mamas.