At 16 weeks, your baby is fast developing a little personality and becoming quite the social animal – in what can seem quite a marked change from even a few weeks ago at the 3-month mark.


Your baby can focus much more easily on everything around them and they're fascinated by what and who they see. They respond to the sight of you – or their feet or a bright, fun-looking looking toy – with smiles and gurgles and, if anything gets close enough, a nicely and newly co-ordinated reaching arm.

They're also capable of sleeping for longer at night – but don't hang out the bunting just yet. Sadly, 'capable of' doesn't mean 'always will', and there's a key developmental stage that's likely to put a bit of a disruptive sleep spanner in the works...

At 4 months, the key baby milestones are:

  • Able to hold their head up without support
  • Able to see and reach for a toy with one hand
  • Able to bring hands to their mouth and play with/suck hands
  • Able to grasp and shake a toy when it's put in their hand
  • Able to push up onto their elbows or hands when lying on their tummy
  • Turns their head towards the sound of your voice
  • Coos and babbles, copying sounds they hear
  • Smiles, looks at you or make sounds to get your attention

Your baby may also be able to:

  • Roll over completely from their tummy to their back
  • Push down on their legs when they're held upright and their feet are placed on a hard surface
  • Sit up without support
  • Copy your facial expressions

Remember: every baby will develop at their own pace. Please don't worry if your baby's development is not exactly tracking what's written here. This is simply a guide to the new skills babies will be developing at this age. If you have any concerns, always speak to your health visitor or GP.

Your baby's movement and head control at 4 months

Your baby's now feeling much more comfortable and secure when you place them on their tummy. From this position, they can hold their head up for longer periods and can probably prop themselves up on their elbows, doing a kind of "mini push-up" and having a good look around.

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Your baby will now have good independent head control, and is being much much deliberate with their arm and leg movements. In fact, you'll find they can now reach out with one hand and swipe at toys and other objects nearby.

They may well be able to roll from tummy to back and, if you hold them upright with their feet on the floor, they may push down with their legs in a kind of practice walk.

Your baby's hand-eye coordination is much improved now, which means they can grasp and shake toys that are handed to them. This is a purposeful grasping; very different from the reflex grasping your baby did from birth in response to you touching or stroking their palm (this reflex grasp will gradually disappear over the next few weeks.)

Your baby will also be able to bring their hands (and any grasped toys) towards their mouth, where they'll look at them with fascination or suck on them in dribbly delight.

You can help your baby's physical development by:

  • Leaving or dangling rattles (or other toys that make noise when shaken) just within your baby's reach
  • Putting rattles or soft toys in your baby's hand for them to hold, look at – and suck. (Do make sure any toys are suitable for small babies and don't have any loose or small, detachable parts)
  • Encouraging rolling over by placing your baby on a (reasonably) hard surface; soft surfaces (shaggy or soft-pile carpet, for example) are trickier to roll on
  • Keeping on with 'tummy time' – to strengthen their back and neck – and also spending time sitting on the floor with your baby sitting propped between your legs, to encourage independent sitting.

Now that your baby's moving more, you should also (if you haven't already):

  • Place their Moses basket or crib on the floor, not a stand (or move them to a cot)
  • Take care never to leave your baby on a high surface, such as a changing mat or a bed
  • Keep hazardous objects well out of your baby's reach

Your baby's vision and hearing at 4 months

Your baby 's eye muscles are much stronger, which means they can see further and focus much better. This means they can now concentrate their gaze on objects in their hands, as well a detect objects moving away from them and towards them. They are also starting to be able to recognise people they are familiar with from a distance.

Their ability to see colour is improving all the time and they'll probably be able to differentiate between similar shades of colours and even detect variations in shading.

But the key progress this month is how well your baby is beginning to co-ordinate what they're seeing with how they're moving – meaning they're now able to spot something interesting and make a move towards it with their arm.

You can help your baby's sensory development by:

  • Continuing to play with brightly coloured cloth books and toys that have interesting patterns and shapes
  • Changing their pushchair seat from parent-facing to forward-facing (if you have a pushchair that allows this) for some or all of your trips out, so your baby can see more of the world around them
  • Rolling a ball or moving a toy around in the air – for them to track with their eyes

Your baby's social and communication skills at 4 months

With their improved vision and movement, your baby is becoming much more interested in joining in with what's going on around them. They can smile spontaneously to get your attention (not just in response to your smile) and may even reach for your nose or place their hand on your cheek when your face is close to them.

As the weeks tick by, you many find that your baby is also starting to mimick your facial expressions. They are showing clearer preferences for what they like (smiling, chuckling, kicking legs, opening their mouth when they see the bottle or breast) and don't like (crying when playtime stops). You may even be finding it easier to tell, when they cry, if they're hungry, hurt or just plain tired.

Your baby will be babbling and cooing and copying sounds they hear, turning their head towards you when you speak and making sounds back: they're beginning to learn the art of conversation.

You can help your baby's social development by:

  • Smiling and looking excited when they babble to you, pausing to listen and then continuing the conversation by repeating the sounds they made back to them
  • Talking to them, pointing out objects you can see ("Look, there's a dog!") and describing what you're doing ("Daddy's putting his coat on and then we're going out)
  • Finding toys with a baby mirror on them: your baby will love gazing at their own reflection

Your baby's sleeping at 4 months

Your baby will be sleeping for longer at night – maybe 6 to 7 hours at a stretch – but we can't promise this will be consistent (sorry). During the day, your baby will probably take 3 or 4 'naps' of about 30 minutes to 2 hours at a time, and spend several hours awake. In total, most babies of this age will sleep for 12 to 16 hours per (24-hour) day.

Doesn't sound too bad? Well, brace yourself: the 4th month is a time when your baby is quite likely to have a "sleep regression" – which, as the name sounds, is a period when their night-time sleep goes all disrupted and unpredictable, a bit like it was when they were just a few weeks old.

It's a very common thing (not that this is much comfort in the middle of the night, we know) and is a sign that your baby's transitioning away from a newborn sleep pattern to a more adult pattern of cycles of light and deep sleep. If this seem to be happening with your baby, first check that they're not ill and then grit your teeth: it should all be over within 2 weeks or so.

You can help your baby's sleeping by:

  • Establishing an unvarying bedtime routine (if you haven't already). Start with a warm bath, then wrap them in a towel and take them to a dim or dark room and dress them ready for bed. Keep everything low-key and calm.
  • Helping your baby drowse themselves to sleep. Try to put them down for the night awake, then sit by their cot and offer reassurance – gentle patting or a quiet voice – until they drop off.
  • Offer lots of cuddles by day (especially if they're in the middle of a sleep regression and feeling unsettled as a result) but keep night-time interactions quick, short and quiet.

Your baby's poos and wees at 4 months

Your baby should be getting through about 4 to 6 wet nappies a day.

By the 4th month, your baby may be pooing once a day (especially if they are formula-fed) but they may also go 3 to 4 days without doing a poo.

As long as the poo is soft and your baby is not straining, this is absolutely fine. Tell your GP is your baby's poos are very smelly, very watery or hard.

Your baby's feeding at 4 months

Your baby should be feeding 'on demand' (as much as they want) but, as a general rule of thumb, you'd expect babies of this age usually have about 4oz to 6oz of breast milk or formula every 3 to 5 hours.

You may notice that your baby starts to signal their hunger to you by putting their hands near their mouth.

Other key things to know about your baby at 4 months

  • Teething. Teething can begin in earnest in the 4th month. The first signs may include increased drooling, restlessness, and loss of appetite. Teething babies also often chew on anything they can get their hands on. Teething can be quite painful and uncomfortable and can disrupt both sleep and feeding. For more info, see How to soothe your baby when they're teething
  • Vaccinations: Your baby is due their 3rd 6-in-1 vaccination and their 2nd Men C vaccination at 16 weeks. Do contact your GP if you haven't scheduled these in yet.
  • Breastfeeding: If you're breastfeeding your baby, you may notice that feeds are shorter – not because your baby's taking less milk but because they're much more efficient at feeding. That said, you may also find they easily become distracted during a feed, coming off the nipple and turning their head to see what's going on or even just to smile at you. You may find that it helps to feed somewhere quiet or to cover your baby's head with a loose muslin.

With thanks, for additional material, to our colleagues at Netmoms, Germany

Pic: Getty. Graphic: Jordan Edmonds-Moore


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Helen Brown
Helen BrownHead of Content Delivery

Helen is author of the classic advice book Parenting for Dummies and a mum of 3. Before joining MadeForMums, she was Head of Community at Mumsnet and also the Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby.