Hello, mama! You’ve made it past the 4th trimester. Let me just tell you that HUGE milestones are coming your way. You’ve officially made it through one of the toughest seasons of parenthood and you should be proud of yourself.
You may have noticed that your baby has changed in crazy ways since the day that you met them. You have probably started to hear some babbling, as well as smiles and mimicking of facial expressions. You baby is slowing starting to show you bits and pieces of who they are going to become!
Your little one is growing rapidly every day and it’s important to be aware of what your baby needs from you to grow and learn. Not only do they need to learn and play to grow, they also must get enough rest and proper nutrition to do so. Since it can be overwhelming as a new mom, or even an experienced mom, to figure it all out, here is my ultimate guide to everything you need to know to take care of your 4-6 month old!
Don’t offer solids yet.
It’s been popular advice for many years to begin solids at 4 months. Some doctors even have recommended baby cereal in bottle of formula from birth! Thank goodness that’s not common anymore, but there are still many pediatricians recommending solids at 4 months.
The reason this isn’t a fabulous idea is because a baby’s gut is not ready to handle this food. Their digestive system is still developing and can be very sensitive. They also do not have the proper reflexes to move food back to their throat, which will only cause frustration for you (they will spit it out). Just try to be patient. Solid time will be here before you know it and I promise you will miss the good old days of just milk.
Do begin a sleeping routine.
Now that the 4th trimester is over, your baby is beginning to notice routines and make habits. Now is a great time to begin having your baby sleep in a crib in their own room, if you haven’t already. Try to lay him down while he is sleepy, but not yet asleep. This will help keep them asleep for longer periods of time without waking up. To learn more about getting your baby into a sleeping routine, and the science behind infant sleep, read this.
It’s very common for your infant to experience a “rough patch” in their sleep around 4 months. While frustrating for the parents and child alike, it doesn’t last forever and is totally normal. Try to stay patient through the frustrations and give your child comfort. Don’t try to begin a new sleeping routine while they are struggling.
Do a lot of talking with your baby.
Explain what is happening. As you do things, talk to your baby about it. Read books and look at pictures. Talk about how pictures are the same as things you see in the real world. Take time to talk slowly and annunciate your words and make different sounds like “baba” and “woah” and let your little one watch how your mouth moves as you say them. It can feel weird, since they don’t understand most of what is happening. But believe me when I say that their little brains are constantly soaking in information and it can only benefit them to start as early as possible teaching them about the world!
Do a lot of tummy time & sitting practice.
Of course this will have to begin gradually and with lots of support. At 4 months, your baby is perfectly capable of sitting on your lap, as long as you are holding them and their backs are supported by your chest/belly. As they get stronger, move them away from your body and hold their hands as they wobble and grow that abdominal strength.
You should have started tummy time soon after birth, but it’s never too late to begin! Make sure you are always supervising. You can use a “boppy” pillow to help support their arms, or just lay them on the ground. This is a great way for them to gain neck strength and begin to attempt at rolling over!
Daily Life: 4-6 Months
- 6-12 times daily
- 4-6 oz every 3-5 hours
- 24-36 oz daily
- 1-2 night feedings
- 4-6 wet diapers daily
- With bowel movements, it’s quality over quantity when they are exclusively formula/breast fed. If their poop is soft and a normal color, you are probably fine. Watch for constipation or diarrhea.
- 14-16 hours daily
- 4-5 naps
- 5-6 hour stretch at night
- Growth Spurt: 14 1/2 – 19 1/2 weeks
- Gaining 2-5 oz a week
- Push up to elbows
- Start attempting to roll over – watch where you leave him alone!
- May start to show signs of teething – invest in some good bandana bibs
- Follows things with eyes in a fluid motion
- Turns head in a fluid motion
- Becoming more lively, active and squirmy
- Shakes a rattle
- Discovering new sounds with his mouth
- Blows saliva bubbles
- Clearly shows enjoyment or when he finds something funny
- Chews on everything
- Getting better at grasping
- Puts your hand in his mouth
- Pulls a cloth away from his own face
- Hits toys on a table or tray
- Looks for mom or dad
- Reacts to his image in a mirror
- Responds to his name
- Uses consonants
- Pushes away the breast or bottle when full
- Grumbles when impatient
- Now is a great time to introduce a play mat
- Dim lights and then brighten them back and forth
- Make sounds that go from low to high, then high to low
- Let baby gaze at himself in a mirror
- Mimic your baby’s sounds
- Call baby by their name often
- Crinkle papers by their ear
- Help them experience new sounds and textures
- Encourage water play
- Let him stand on your lap while you bounce him up and down
- Support him in a sitting position on your lap
- Continue with tummy time
- Read books
- Plastic keys, teething rings, & soft books
- Play airplane and fly your baby through the air
- Play peekaboo
- Toys that have moveable parts & make noise
- Make funny faces
- Repeat simple words and point to what they are
- Name people, food, body parts, colors, animals, etc.
- Narrate to baby what you are doing – this helps them learn speech
- Show baby how to clap hands
- Dance with baby in your arms
- Place toys out of baby’s reach to encourage him to go get them
Sample Daily Schedule
6:30 – Nurse / 4-6 oz. bottle
7:00 – Nap
9:30 – Nurse / 4-6 oz bottle
10:00 – Play
11:30 – Nap
1:00 PM – Nurse / 4-6 oz bottle
1:30 – Play
2:30 – Nap
4:00 – Nurse / 4-6 oz bottle
4:30 – Play
5:30 – Nap
7:00 – Nurse / 4-6 oz bottle
7:30 – Play
8:30 – Nap
10:00 – Nurse / 4-6 oz bottle
10:30 – Sleep
3:30 AM – Nurse / 4-6 oz bottle
4:00 – Sleep