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Your Child's Milestones (4 Months): Baby Coos at Her Reflection
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  • At this age, your little one will have reached quite a few important baby milestones. At 4 months, she can hold her head up by herself now -- a significant motor skill, said pediatrician Dr. Kurt Heyrman. You’ll also notice her interacting and engaging with you more, even copying your facial expressions! She’ll also be able to shake a rattle, try to help you hold her bottle up and may be fascinated at her own reflection in the mirror (even though she doesn’t know it’s her!). 

    With guidance from Special Education teacher Joji Reynes-Santos, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Ages and Stages Questionnaires, a tool used by pediatricians for screening a child's development, below are developmental milestones most babies reach by 4 months old. 

    But first, take note:

    • Wait until the end of 4 months before observing your baby for his 4-month-old milestones. Every child is different. Some reach their milestones earlier, and others a little later.
    • Have you been practicing tummy time? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends tummy time to babies as soon as possible. Make sure your child practices it a few times a day when she’s awake and playful. 
    • Make sure your baby is well-rested and fed. Some of the items on this list may require you and your baby to engage in simple activities. Fussiness may make it harder to get accurate observations. 
    • Talk to your child’s doctor at every well-baby visit about the milestones your child has reached. Always consult with a pediatrician who will address your concerns and be able to inform you on what to expect next.
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    What most babies can do at 4 months old:

    Physical development

    • When not lying down, can support own head and hold it steady
    • Can hold a toy and shake it and swing it
    • When lying on stomach, pushes up to elbows
    • Pushes down on legs when feet are on a hard surface 
    • Brings hands to mouth

    Cognitive or mental development

    • Reaches for toys with his hands even when object is out of reach
    • Follows moving things with eyes 
    • Watches faces closely
    • Responds to affection (ex. smiles at mom's playful kisses)
    • Recognizes familiar people and things at a distance

    Social and emotional development

    • Smiles or gets excited around familiar people
    • Enjoys playing with people and may cry when playing stops
    • When in front of a mirror, may smile or coo at her reflection
    • Copies some movements and facial expressions, like smiling or frowning 

    Language and communication development

    • Has accompanying facial expressions when babbling
    • Cries in different ways to show hunger, sleepiness, pain, etc.
    • Chuckles or laughs softly
    • Makes high-pitched squeals
    • Makes sounds when looking at toys or people 
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    Red flags
    Children develop at different rates, says the AAP. There may be nothing to worry about. However, it’s important you still bring up any red flag concerns with a pediatrician. According to the CDC, talk to your child’s doctor if your 4-month-old baby:

    • can't hold her head up or steady

    • doesn't push down with legs when feet are on a hard surface

    • doesn't smile at people
    • doesn't watch things as they move
    • doesn't coo or make sounds
    • doesn't bring things to mouth
    • has trouble moving one or both eyes in all directions 
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    Sources: CDC, AAP, Ages and Stages Questionnaire

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