The Next Three Months: Baby Milestones in Months 4-6
The first three months of a baby’s life are often referred to as the “fourth trimester” because the baby is still intensely dependent, has only rudimentary communication abilities, and does not seem fully engaged with the surrounding world. All of this comes to an end in the next three months, which is when babies really come alive. During this time, you will finally begin to feel your love returned, your child will develop a recognizable personality, and your ability to communicate with him or her will grow exponentially. For parents, it is an exciting time. It is particularly relieving for first-time parents, who have been through so many new things over the rough first three months. Those feelings of self-questioning and intense uncertainty develop into confidence, and your love for your baby grows to proportions you never knew were possible. You continue to bond, and every day brings exciting new things that make you feel ever more pleased to be a parent. Below we will look at each of these months one by one, but keep in mind that every baby is different. Your baby is likely to develop some traits and behaviors later than the average and some earlier. In most cases, slight deviation from the norm does not mean your child is either behind or advanced. It just means your child is a unique individual. Month Four
- Better head and neck control: Your baby’s floppiness will soon be a thing of the past, and you will no longer have to worry about supporting her head every time you pick her up. By the end of this month, your baby will likely be able to hold her head straight when being lifted, pulled upright, and carried.
- Enjoying tummy time: Most younger babies can stand being on their bellies for a short time, but they soon lose patients. But with better neck control comes the ability to hold the head up and play. Of course, your child may not be enthralled by her toys just yet, but she should be able to entertain herself on her tummy for a few minutes at least.
- Rolling over: This month, your child will likely roll over for the first time. And if she does not do so quite yet, you will see her trying quite mightily. Some babies start rolling from front to back, and some from back to front. The ability to do both usually does not develop until later.
- Smiling and laughing: You are probably familiar with your child’s smile by now, and maybe you can even make him laugh. This month, those abilities will become even more defined. He will begin smiling in response to your smile, and you will likely find a few tricks to make him laugh when he is in a good mood.
- Beginnings of speech: This month, you might notice your child making more sounds and seeming to develop a little more control over her noises. It will still be some time before the first words come, so do not expect too much.
- Sitting up: This month, your child may continue to seem compelled to tip over every time you try to prop her up, but she will get better. And if you have a soft surface and are there to catch her, you can even practice sitting without a prop.
- Starting solids: When to introduce solids is up to each family, but if your child can hold his neck up, then starting solids is not out of the question. Many parents choose to wait until the sixth month or even later.
- Teething: Your child’s teeth may begin to grow in this month. And if so, keep in mind that teething can come with pain, fussiness, and other symptoms.
- Steady nap schedule: If you were not active in imposing a sleeping schedule on your child in the early months, this month he may begin to do so on his own. By the end of the month, you will likely be able to say definitively how many naps your child needs per day and how long these naps typically last, and you will know all the signs of sleepiness.
- Standing: Earlier, you probably held your baby up to give her practice standing. This month, she will become even better, and she may even be able to pull herself up from a standing position or stand when propped against an object.
- Crawling: Few babies can truly crawl with any skill by the sixth month, but this month you will notice your baby seems determined to move around, and he will work at it for long periods of time. There are things you can do to encourage him, but he will learn with or without your help. This month, you might want to get serious about baby-proofing your home.
- Sleeping through the night: Most younger babies wake up once or twice during the night for a sleepy feeding, but this cannot last forever. This month, there is a good chance that your baby may begin making it through all or most of the night without any significant wakeups. And if it does not happen yet, do not worry. Many babies continue to request nighttime feedings for months more.