I had no idea that our baby, at 4 months old, would be so mobile, so silly—or so constipated. (Yikes!) I feel like the books and magazines and websites skip over this phase of babyhood, going from newborn to 6 months with only a few details about the stretch in between.
So let me fill in the gaps. Here are 10 things worth noting about what's going on at 4 months:
1. Starting solids means tummy troubles
At his 4-month checkup, my son’s pediatrician noted that he’d fallen off his growth curve a bit. She wanted him to start solids to get more calories and beef up a bit. I was excited—I always thought this stage would be so fun. I pictured my adorable baby with food smeared all over his face and happily trying “big people food.”
While it was pretty adorable, my son also experienced a common side effect of solids—constipation. He had a hard tummy and was super fussy. Many babies start out with rice cereal and, although it’s becoming more and more common to skip straight to fruits and veggies, our pediatrician recommended the rice cereal due to its high iron content. However, the cereal binds up their bellies, and we ended up having to give him a glycerin suppository to get the GI tract flowing, if you know what I mean. It was definitely one of the grosser moments of parenthood.
We were lucky—our baby started sleeping through the night at around 9 weeks, which is relatively early. But once he could roll over, forget about it. He could roll to his stomach with ease but was far from figuring out the opposite. Suddenly, we were getting up at least once a night to roll him from his belly to his back.
3. Increased motor skills hurt
It was like flipping on a light switch. One day, he could barely lift his arm, the next day, he was grabbing everything in sight. When your hair is constantly getting tugged, I’ve learned it’s easiest to just put it up—and forget that dangly jewelry for a while, as well.
4. The vacuum is your new best friend
Since you’re at the very beginning of the teething process, babies around four months old will start putting everything in sight into their mouth. We’re hyper-aware of keeping our carpet immaculate so that no stray leaves, plastic tags or crumbs wind up eaten by our son.
5. They’re suddenly expert trackers
I work from home as a copywriter, but when my husband comes home, all eyes are on him. As soon as Dad walks in the door, my son watches him do everything, from getting dressed to setting the table. Four-month-olds have increased vision—about 40/20—and are able to smoothly watch things from across the room.
At 4 months, babies really enjoy the pleasure of their parents’ company. But since they’re more aware of the world around them, naptime is no fun.
6. Giggles are the best thing ever
You thought smiles were awesome? Their new ability to giggle is 10 times better. We make silly faces at our baby constantly—whatever it takes to win that giggle. His whole body crunches up, and he even snorts sometimes from laughing too hard.
7. They’re a lot smarter than you realize
Four-month-olds are starting to learn that people respond to their actions. Some babies throw things on the ground to watch their parents pick it up. If we’re busy with another task, our son likes to whine until we look at him, then shoot us a big smile—he knows how to get our attention.
8. Sleep gets kind of better (and kind of worse)
As mentioned above, our son’s a great night-sleeper, even with the rolling over issue. But naps? Don’t even think about it. At 4 months, babies really enjoy the pleasure of their parents’ company. But since they’re more aware of the world around them, naptime is no fun. A lot of babies, including our son, start protesting their naps around this age.
9. Toys are finally fun
For the first few months of your baby’s life, people love to give you toys. But newborns? Little babies? They're way more interested in the lamplight or ceiling fan. At 4 months though, babies can actually see things better and even pick things up and hold them—so toys start to become interesting. Our son loves his light-up guitar, stuffed frog and plush giraffe—toys that had been pretty much sitting in a box until now.
At four months, our baby can’t quite move. But he doesn’t know that! He loves to be held standing up and will even lock his legs if you try to sit him down. He also likes to just lay on his back and wiggle and, if you’re holding him, you better be walking him around and showing him things. Gone are the days when he would just settle into our chests and doze off. In fact, the only time he lets me cradle him like a baby is right before bedtime. I definitely miss the snuggle sessions in a bittersweet way, but I also know that there are only more fun milestones ahead.