From birth, your baby has continually been learning about the world by interacting with people, places, and objects. This stage in the middle of your baby’s first year enables you to see how your baby begins to apply all of this information that has beenabsorbed over the previous 4 months into their daily life. Your baby will begin to sit by herself, and you may notice how actively she uses her hands, and mouth, to explore her environment. Through manipulating objects around him, your baby will discover how shaking a rattle makes an exciting sound, or dropping a toy brings a reaction from you or other adults. Engaging with your baby and giving them safe toys to play with will help them experiment and learn about how certain actions lead to interesting effects. During this stage your baby will also develop object permanence as she learns that objects continue to exist even when they are out of sight. Before this, whenever you moved out of a room, played peekaboo, or hid a toy behind a cloth, it was as if you and the toy had completely vanished! Now your baby will begin to learn how objects, and people, do not disappear from existence when they leave her line of sight.
As your baby grows, so will their babbling vocabulary. You may have already noticed your baby begin to laugh and coo more frequently. During this time, your baby is in a vocal-play stage, where she will begin to pronounce simple syllables like “ga”, “boo”, or “nuh”. Around six months, your baby may string syllables together and begin to pronounce a larger range of consonants. In contrast to most of the sounds coming from your baby, these babblings are not meant primarily to get your attention, and you may find that you hear your baby babbling often when he or she is alone!
Although these sounds are not particularly meaningful, your baby will begin to understand meaning in the speech they hear. At this stage, babies are more attentive to a voice speaking with typical pauses in their speech, and can begin to match sounds they hear with the correct vocal movements used to produce each word. It is also during this time that babys become more attuned to their native language, and begin to lose the ability to recognize sound categories from other languages that they have never heard.
See some of the ways your baby will communicate with you from 4-6 months // source: pathways.com
Your baby’s physical growth is expanding rapidly, and soon your baby’s motor skills will be too! At this stage your baby will begin to hold her head up while lying on her stomach and pushing up on her arms to lift her chest off the floor. Try placing your baby on his stomach, and as he continues to try to push himself up, your baby will get closer to sitting on his own. By the end of this stage, your baby will be able to roll over, sit by herself, and perhaps crawl. As your baby explores her world from a new angle, she will also learn to pass toys from one hand to another, helping her to manipulate and understand the size and shape of objects.
Watch your baby learn to push themselves up as they develop // source: pixabay
Social and Emotional Development
As a parent, you continue to be an incredibly important part of your baby’s social and emotional experiences. During this time, notice how your baby responds when you express a happy face. Towards the end of this stage, your baby will be able to identify the correct facial expression simply from the tone of your voice. This means your baby will not only be able to identify emotion from your facial expression but also from your vocal expressions. As a result, it will be helpful to both smile when playing with your baby and use an excited and engaged voice.
For additional information and resources, take a look at the following.
1. For more information on developmental milestones, when to be concerned, and helpful videos demonstrating these milestones, see Pathways’ information on tracking your baby’s milestones through their first year. All of these milestones are validated by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
2. Here is another perspective on your baby’s development from four to six months as told by Dyan Hes, medical director of Gramercy Pediatrics in New York City
3. In the last module, we mentioned the Ovia Baby Development Tracker, an iPhone app that allows you to do personalized tracking of your baby’s developmental milestones. The CDC also has an app which allows you to track your child’s milestones from age 2 months to 5 years with easy-to-use illustrated checklists. This app provides tips from the CDC for encouraging your child’s development. There are many different options for tracking these exciting achievements in your child’s life!