Things Most Babies Do By 4-6 Months
It is an exciting thing to watch our baby develop and grow up. Did you also know that by observing how your baby plays, learns, speaks, acts and moves, you can detect development issues early on? There are things that most babies can do at a certain age, and we can compare our baby’s progress with them to get an idea if they are growing well. If your baby is between 2-4 months old, read this article instead.
The original article can be found from the CDC [source]. Our post guides you on how to help your baby achieve each of the milestones stated there based on what we’ve learned in college and applied to our boy when he was 4-6 months old.
We make a milestone checklist, and whenever our baby achieves the milestone, we check it off, he has done it! Our baby didn’t do all these things the moment he hit 4 months, some he did at the end of 6 months which is perfectly ok. The development list is split among 4 main categories (black) with its subcategory (blue). Consult your baby’s pediatrician if he is has not achieved the milestones by the end of 6 months.
Social / Emotional
Can smiles spontaneously, especially at people
Carry your baby, smile and be cheerful as you talk to him. Your baby should naturally be able to do this. If he can’t, try to engage and communicate with him more often. There are other possibilities, which is vision or hearing impairment. I posted in the previous post about things to watch out for, and this relates to the first 3 points. You can bring this up with your baby’s pediatrician if you’re concerned.
Likes to play with people
Babies at this age like attention and will want to play with you. Sometimes, you may notice that if you stop playing with him, he may start to cry, and when the playing continues, he stops crying.
Copies facial expressions
When you smile, he smiles! We’ve managed to make our baby follow our smiles and 1 other expression, like “Oooohhhh”. What other expression did your baby copy?
Language / Communication
Starts to babble
Talk and sing to your baby often, he will eventually invent his babbling sound. Use this opportunity to communicate with him, be excited and show your excitement when your baby makes these sounds.
Babbles with expression and can copy your sound
Read to your baby. We read a lot to baby Nathan, like about 10 chapters of bible scriptures to him every day, on top of that we also read picture books to him. This method is another way to make him listen to words, and he responds by babbling in baby language back at us! In my niece’s case, she made a sad face and mumbled when she heard the song Amazing Grace. These responses are what we are looking at for this development.
Have different crying sounds when feeling hungry, pain or tired
Your baby will cry in different ways to express himself differently. Try to pay attention to his crying, and you will notice he cries differently based on what he needs. Our baby’s cry (or pace of crying) for being hungry, pain, tired or shocked is not the same. Noticing this will help you understand and address your baby’s needs better.
Cognitive (Learning, Thinking, Problem-Solving)
Lets you know if he is happy or sad
Our baby smiles when he is happy, and there are times where he will shout in a high pitch voice when he is excited. When he is sad, he will make this expression (Sorry, I don’t know what the expression is called in English, so I’m giving you some examples instead).
Responds to affection
Check this when you show him love such as through hugging or kissing (we strongly do not recommend kissing the baby), he responds with smiles or other positive emotions.
Reaches for toys and grabs it
Place his toys near him, within reach, so that he can reach for them. You can also put toys in your baby’s hands and help them to hold it.
Uses hands and eyes together, such as seeing a toy, reaching and grabbing it
There is a difference between this and the point above. Babies can reach out for toys randomly (Fulfilling the previous point), for this point he needs to see and reach out to grab the toy that he is looking. I will recommend placing your baby in a safe environment such as within a playpen or his crib because it is very common for babies to fall off the bed. With a safe environment, for example, gated, no excessive fabrics, he can freely explore his surroundings without needing much supervision.
Maintains eye contact with moving things
We find that the easiest way is to put our baby on his tummy. He will naturally look up and use his elbows to support himself (This is one of the milestones for 2 months under Movement / Physical Development). When he does this, he is focused on looking in front of him. Now hold his toy and move it from left to right, then right to the left. He achieves this milestone if he can maintain eye contact with the toy throughout its movement.
Looks at faces
Talking to him and playing peek-a-boo are excellent ways for him to look at your face.
Can recognize people and things at a distance
When you’re a distance away from your baby, call out to him and see if he will look at you and recognize you. An example is when I call out to baby Nathan from a distance, he will sometimes look at me and smile. When it comes to things, take something he is familiar with and hold it. If I hold baby Nathan’s toy and call out to him, he will look at the toy with excitement, but when I hold something he is not familiar with, such as a newspaper, he may look at me with excitement, but not at the newspaper. Hope this gives you clarity on what to look out for.
Movement / Physical Development
Can hold his head steadily without support
By now your baby’s neck should be strong enough to support his head. You should no longer need to support his head while carrying him, and his head should be steady. Just try helping him to seat or carry him around, and see if he can hold his head steadily.
Can push legs down when feet are on a hard surface
Place him in his crib lying down, with his legs on the wall of the crib. He should be pushing down on the wall. Another way is to sit down and carry him facing out, place something with a hard surface such as a book at his feet, he should be pushing down on the book with his legs.
Can roll over from tummy to back
Place your baby on his tummy, if he can roll to his back, he has achieved this milestone. In the beginning, we help baby Nathan by rolling him halfway and encourage him to turn to his back by himself. It is ok if your baby only does this once in a blue moon, but by 6 months your baby should be able to roll all over the place.
Can hold onto a dangling toy and swing at it
Place your baby lying down, and dangle some toys above him. You can teach him to reach for it by holding his hand and taking a swipe at the toys. He will eventually be able to hold onto it or swing at it by himself.
Can bring hands to mouth to suck
Babies will naturally bring their hands to their mouths to suck. It is ok for babies to suck their hands or fingers, just make sure they are clean. This milestone is an important one; it is the development of your baby’s hand-eye coordination.
During tummy time, can use elbows to push up as support
By the end of the 4th month, your baby should be able to push up and use his elbows as support. This milestone is different from the milestone at 2 months, back then they are only able to hold their head up, their chest is on the ground, and they can’t use their elbows as support. Now their chest is up, the body supported by their elbows.
Things To Watch Out
Here are some things to be aware of. You may want to consult your baby’s pediatrician (his doctor) if he is still showing any of these signs by the end of 4 months.
- Does not follow things with eyes as it moves
- Doesn’t smile at people
- Can’t hold his head steadily
- Doesn’t coo or make sounds
- Doesn’t bring hands or other things to mouth
- Doesn’t push down with legs when his feet are on a hard surface
- Has trouble moving one or both eyes in all directions
Let me know in the comments if you face any challenges or have questions. We learned about this in college in the early childhood education course and applied this to our son Nathan. We have another article for 6-8 months old development milestones, come back again when the time comes 🙂