by Don Bower
Your baby is so much more aware now -- and so responsive! The fourth month is full of joys for the whole family.
At birth, an infant has a strong natural sucking and tongue thrust reflex. This tongue thrust causes baby to push anything solid (such as food or a small toy) out of her mouth with her tongue. This helps to keep an infant from choking. If solid food is added to her diet earlier than 4 to 6 months of age, it is often rejected. This is because her tongue thrust reflex does not begin to disappear until after the third month.
Your baby should be able to sit up, lean forward and push away before beginning cereals [generally around six months]. Then start with an iron-fortified infant cereal [or other recommended first food]. Adding too many different foods too soon may cause allergies and overeating. So, keep it simple.
[Unless you are delaying or selectively vaccinating] It's time for your baby's second DPT, Hib, and polio immunizations. Remember: A DPT vaccine protects your baby against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough. There are possible side effects. If you have not talked with your doctor about these, do so. An informed parent makes better choices about the baby's health.
Baby's favorite sounds at this age are usually "h" and "ae." Some babies can even put this together and say "hey" at this age. Babbling is baby's way of learning to talk, so encourage her to practice. When speaking to your baby, speak correctly. At four months, she is already beginning to imitate sounds, so speak to her clearly. Take turns talking with her. Conversation skills begin along with the excitement of attention.
Expect your baby to:
Don't be surprised if your baby tries to grasp an object with her fist closed -- she will soon learn to open and close her hands around an object. She may have learned to use her thumb and forefinger together in a pinching manner.
Your baby's eyesight is fully developed now. She can easily follow objects with her eyes. At four months your baby is becoming a social being. She has a range of emotions such as anger, surprise, sadness and happiness. She enjoys being with the family and is very responsive to attention. She may try to get a reaction from you. Singing, talking and playing with her will bring coos, smiles and squeals of excitement.
Parent-Baby Learning Games
Show your baby her image in a mirror. She will smile at her reflection, and when the image smiles back, she may laugh and coo. Does she look at your image in the mirror? Two daddies are confusing! Say things to your baby such as, "See the baby?" She will soon begin to realize that it is her image in the mirror and that she is the baby.
It is never too early to introduce a baby to music. In fact, some mothers begin playing music for their baby to hear even before she is born! If you haven't begun already, begin playing music from the radio, classical tapes or nursery rhyme tapes to her occasionally. Watch her reaction to different kinds of music to see if she has favorites!
Every baby will be different from others by nature. If you have more than one child, you probably recognize that even babies in the same family can have very different personalities. Some babies may cry a great deal, resist being bathed and adjust slowly to new situations. Others wake up happy, adapt easily to change and enjoy day-to-day experiences. There is nothing better or worse with these babies or their parents -- it is simply the temperament with which the babies were born. You will be able to help your baby learn to use his or her temperament effectively as he or she grows.