Top 4-Month Baby Milestones: Tips from a Dallas Sleep Coach to Improve Sleep Hygiene

As a sleep consultant, I know that parents of four-month-old babies are navigating an exciting but sometimes difficult phase of life. As a mom of four it helped me to understand the milestones my babies were hitting and how those changes impacted our lives. Even though sleep can feel like a pipe dream at this age, it is crucial to their brain development and your emotional wellness. Here are some things that may help:

Key Milestones at 4 Months Old

  1. Improved Head Control:
    • What to Expect: By four months, most babies can hold their heads up steadily while lying on their stomachs and when supported in a sitting position. 
    • Impact on Sleep: With better head control, your baby might start to roll over from tummy to back, which can initially disrupt sleep. Or course babies often practice new skills at night, (why wouldn’t they)leading to more frequent wake ups. 
  2. Starting to Roll Over:
    • What to Expect: Rolling from tummy to back usually begins around this time. Some babies might also start to show signs of rolling from back to tummy, although this typically happens closer to six months.
    • Impact on Sleep: Your baby’s body will practice this skill almost compulsively until mastering the new skill. When they roll over in the crib it can be startling for them, resulting in yet more night wakings. I support families through this milestone regularly because it’s a doozy.
  3. Increased Curiosity and Interaction:
    • What to Expect: Your baby is becoming more curious about the world. They might start to reach for objects, track movements with their eyes, and respond to familiar faces with smiles and coos (which let’s be honest is the best).
    • Impact on Sleep: With so much new information to process, babies may find it harder to wind down for naps and bedtime. Maintaining good sleep hygiene is even more crucial during this stage.

Tips for Encouraging Head Control and Rolling Through Purposeful Play

When I support a private client we go through a daily schedule that includes play time. It’s important to both engage in purposeful play and give your baby time alone and unstimulated. Here are some ideas for play time. Play for 10 minutes then take a break and walk away from them or sit quietly next to them.

  1. Tummy Time:
    • How to Do It: Place your baby on their tummy on a soft, safe surface for short periods several times a day. Start with a few minutes and gradually increase the duration as your baby gets stronger.
    • Benefits: Tummy time helps strengthen the neck, shoulder, and arm muscles, which are essential for head control and rolling over.
    • Play Ideas: Use a colorful toy or mirror to encourage your baby to lift their head and look around. Singing songs and talking to your baby during tummy time can also keep them engaged.
  2. Assisted Sitting:
    • How to Do It: Sit your baby on your lap or a soft surface with support. You can use pillows or your hands to provide extra stability.
    • Benefits: This helps improve head and trunk control, which are necessary for sitting up independently and rolling.
    • Play Ideas: Place interesting toys just out of reach to encourage your baby to lean and reach, helping to develop balance and coordination.
  3. Side-Lying Play:
    • How to Do It: Position your baby on their side with a rolled-up towel or small blanket behind them for support.
    • Benefits: This position encourages rolling and helps develop the muscles needed for the motion.
    • Play Ideas: Place toys within reach on one side to motivate your baby to roll onto their back or tummy. Make it a fun game by gently rolling your baby from side to side while talking or singing to them.
  4. Reaching and Grasping:
    • How to Do It: Provide a variety of safe, easy-to-grasp toys for your baby to explore.
    • Benefits: Reaching and grasping activities improve hand-eye coordination and strengthen the muscles used for rolling.
    • Play Ideas: Hang toys just above your baby’s chest or place them on their tummy during tummy time to encourage reaching. Soft, textured toys are particularly engaging for babies at this age.

Managing Sleep During Milestone Development

Sleep is a huge question mark at 4-5 months old. So many changes can leave parents feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. We love our kids, we do not love being up every 2 hours all night. 

  1. Stick to a Consistent Routine: If you have not already started a bedtime routine now is a great time to start. Keep it short, 20-30 minutes, bath, diaper, sleep sack, feed, stories.
  2. Provide a Safe Sleep Environment: Ensure your baby’s crib is free of loose blankets, pillows, and toys. Place your baby on their back to sleep, but allow for supervised tummy time during the day.
  3. Be Patient with Night Wakings: It’s normal for babies to wake more frequently during periods of rapid development. Offer comfort and reassurance, and encourage your baby to self-soothe back to sleep when possible.
  4. Encourage Daytime Play: Engaging in active play during the day helps your baby expend energy and can promote better sleep at night. If sleep issues persist, book a free call with me. I am based in Dallas but offer virtual services all over the world.

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