Baby Care: 4 months

At this point, your four month old baby is maturing by leaps and bounds and is able to adopt new behaviors, like self-soothing, sleeping longer stretches, and eating solid foods, that make your life way easier.

Sleeping

Babies can sleep longer now! You may have hit the 4 month sleep regression/bump in the road, but once your baby gets through this period, you will see your baby can sleep about 8-12 hours at night. Babies also take around 2-3 naps a day at this age: usually a morning nap, an afternoon nap, and an early evening “cat” nap. If your baby wakes up fussing at night, wait a few minutes before responding to see if he can self soothe and fall back asleep on his own. If your baby keeps crying, try shushing him or offering a pacifier, before picking him up and feeding him

Pro tip: cover your crib mattress BEFORE your baby starts to stand up. The crib seems to be the first place they will pull themselves up to stand!

Feeding

Around this age, you will notice that your baby eats less frequently--perhaps only 4-7 times in a day.  While the feeds may be more spaced out, your baby is taking in larger amounts of food to meet the same needs when they were eating more frequently. Here is a good rule of thumb: babies take about 2.5 ounces of formula per pound of their weight. If you are breastfeeding, try to not worry about fixed amounts, but let your baby tell you when he has had enough. Babies at this age still only need breast milk or formula. They do not need water or apple juice.

Starting Solids

Your pediatrician will recommend starting solid foods between the ages of 4-6 months for both breastfed and formula-fed babies.

Is your baby ready? Consider: Can my baby hold his head up well and sit with support? Does my baby reach for things or grasp things? Try sitting your baby in a Broumbo seat to see how he does sitting up and supporting his head.

When you are first introducing solid food, food is for fun and not necessarily for nutritional value. Your nursing sessions (or bottles) will remain the same in length and quantity. As you are introducing solid food, start with an iron-fortified rice cereal or oatmeal, and mix it with some breastmilk or formula. Alternatively, you can start with a pureed yellow or orange vegetable such as sweet potato, carrots, or squash.  Mix one of these vegetables with the rice cereal or oatmeal. Give your baby a spoon and allow your baby to grab at the spoon or at the puree, so they can explore the food on their own. It can be messy, but this is very valuable experimentation! Your baby may make a funny face at first when you introduce a new food, but keep trying a new food about 10-15 times before you infer that the baby doesn’t like it.

How to start: To introduce solid foods, choose a time that your baby is not too sleepy or too hungry--usually about an hour after a nursing session or bottle. Try a new food every 3 days.  Try new foods in the morning or early afternoon so you can monitor your baby to see how she reacts to the food. Concerning reactions to food that you would want to watch for would be a rash, diarrhea, vomiting or wheezing. Feed your baby seated, or in a high chair, and make it social by having your baby sit at the table with the rest of your family.  You will know when your baby is full because he will often cue you by shaking his head or pushing the food away.

Milestones

Your baby is chatty! There is a lot of babbling at this age and it is super cute! You may even notice that your baby pauses to give you a chance to respond. Talk to your baby often and sing out loud to your baby. This is a great age to listen to music together and dance. Your baby is starting to roll over and reach for objects. They love to reach for soft and brightly colored toys such as rattles or balls that make sounds. Help your baby to practice sitting up by propping them up to work on neck and head control.

Pro tip: Teething starts between 4-7 months of age - every baby varies. If your baby is fussy, crying or has a low grade temperature, he could be teething. Wet towels or cool teething toys are great to offer your baby.

A baby that sleeps 8-10 hours in a row sounds delightful, right? If that’s not happening at your house, call Boston NAPS for a sleep consultation. Our team includes a nurse practitioner who specializes in child sleep behavior; she can assess what the issue is and give you a gameplan for getting your baby on a consistent sleep schedule.