Your Baby's Intellectual Development: Month 4
Congrats! You've made it through another month. Month four typically translates to a much more interactive baby -- your little one might be earning the label "social butterfly" these days. He can see better and is therefore much more interested in what's happening around him. He's better able to use his hands and he'll keep developing his communication skills. Here's a look at the intellectual highlights on the horizon this month.
What to expect: Last month's hand play continues and becomes more accurate as Baby's depth perception is now developed enough to allow better hand-eye coordination (though she'll be more accurate reaching with two hands rather than one for a while). Baby will likely put everything into her mouth, because she can and to aid in exploring the world around her. Expect your little lady to suck and gum her hands, fists, and fingers regularly, as well as yours, to relieve the early symptoms of teething such as sore gums.
You might notice that your baby is gazing off into the distance more these days. He'll be able to watch something with his eyes and coordinate movements to move his head at the same time. Speaking of sight, Baby is developing the ability to see more colors and might start to show a preference for brightly colored objects and books. Last month's communication skills will continue this month as he experiments with cooing, blowing raspberries, and general noise-making merriment. He might even start to respond to his own name.
Progression: Baby's ability to reach accurately will continue to improve as the month goes on. She'll gradually master the art of grabbing with one hand at a time and transferring objects from one hand to the other. Expect the chatter, cooing, babbling, laughing and squealing to continue to come in waves and have changes in inflection or tone.
How to help: Provide plenty of playtime on the floor with toys that Baby has to reach for (such as a baby gym or simply a toy held in front of her) and read books with high-contrast images in both black-and-white and color. Consider playing with only one or two things at a time to help your baby focus. Keep any sharp, hot, or otherwise dangerous objects out of baby's reach, as her ability to grab things is now in line with her curiosity. "A soft rattle that makes noise when it's shaken will help teach a baby to learn cause and effect," says Jenn Berman, Ph.D., a Parents advisor and the author of SuperBaby. "Most babies love faces, so either a board book with faces or your own face can be good for Baby," she says.
Your baby might enjoy a round of peekaboo as she starts to learn that things can stay put even when she can't see them. Bonus: You might get a real belly laugh out of her.
Don't freak out if: He's still mostly flailing. Your baby might take a bit longer to master the art of reaching accurately. Expect these developments to come in waves -- Baby might be very vocal or active one week, and quieter and calmer the next. Just as with adults, some babies are more serious than others, so if the laughs and giggles are few and far between, don't stress.
When you should you worry: If baby isn't regularly focusing on objects or doesn't respond to your voice or loud noises, call the pediatrician.
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