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Your 4-Month-Old

What's your baby up to these days? Drooling, putting your keys and any other item within reach in her mouth, smiling ear to ear when you walk in the room? Your baby is a social creature—playing with her is just going to get more and more fun.

Eat

Babies' growth booms in the first 3 months of life, so yours will add weight more slowly now. At this point, the amount of milk a baby takes in doesn't change very much. Breastfeeding newborns tend to increase their consumption of milk until about 3 months, and then plateau, says Wendy Haldeman, R.N., lactation consultant and co-founder of The Pump Station in Los Angeles. "In the first three months, human babies need lots of energy to stay warm, but once a baby has developed enough brown fat to stay warm, she can now use those calories for growth."

Tempted to try solid foods? It's an exciting prospect and a fun new chapter for you and your baby. Check with your pediatrician, as most experts will recommend holding off another month or two. Your baby's nourishment is fulfilled by breast milk or formula at this age.

Sleep

Do you have a formerly good sleeper who now wakes up multiple times a night? That's the dreaded "sleep regression," and it often rears its head between 3–5 months. "When babies get a burst in cognition and consciousness around this age, it's common for sleep to get very bumpy," says sleep consultant and author Heather Turgeon. "In our practice, we hear parents saying all the time, 'She thinks she's a newborn again!'" It's normal, and the silver lining is that it means you have an aware and smart baby on your hands.

Try to ride the wave and avoid adding in lots of extra bouncing, feeding, rocking and so forth, says Turgeon. The mistake many parents understandably make is starting to do all these new habits and soothing tricks they didn't need before—the baby gets quickly addicted. Of course you want to help and soothe your baby, but the key is to help her just enough and gradually fade that help so she can take over.

Should you "sleep train" your baby? Turgeon says that depends on what you mean by sleep training. It's still very natural for babies to wake up and feed at this age, so it's too early to think about weaning and breastfeeding moms' milk supply can be seriously dented by too-early night weaning. In her sleep consulting practice she likes for parents to hold off on structured sleep plans until the baby is about 5 months old (depending on the maturity of the baby), and even then babies can still keep feedings in place while you're working on self-soothing skills to improve overall sleep.

Play

The best place for Baby—when she's not in your arms or on the go— is on the floor, and especially on her tummy.

It sounds silly to say this, but it's a good reminder: It's OK to leave your baby to entertain herself if she's content. Working on shaking a toy, rolling around or just watching a shadow on the wall—it's actually a good idea to let your baby have some alone time (with you nearby).

Milestones

  • Rolling yet? Babies roll over at all different ages—just make sure yours is getting lots of time on the floor to move and exercise.
  • Your baby's weight has just about doubled.
  • Your baby's head is stronger and able to stay upright.
  • Listen for coos as your baby starts to express himself verbally.

LOOK AHEAD: Your 5-Month-Old

Photograph by: Daniel Montoya

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