Month 4: Babbling & Body Language
by Penny Warner
BABY'S PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT
How Baby’s Body is Growing
- Pre-Standing – Your
baby’s legs are straightening out more as the weeks pass. She’ll stretch her
legs when held upright, and will try to press her feet on flat surfaces. She
may even make stepping movements when held upright in a standing position,
something she used to do as a reflex.
- Neck Strength – Baby
is gathering more strength in her neck, balancing her head so she can see more
of the world. She’ll still need support when she sits for periods of time, but
you may find her leaning forward in an attempt to control her head.
- Arm Waving – While
baby’s legs and neck strength are increasing, so are her arms. She likes to
wave her arms simultaneously, flapping them up and down. She’ll soon be able to
control her arms, but for now she’s practicing control of the movements.
How You Can Help
- Pre-standing – As
your baby stretches her legs and presses her feet down, you can enhance her
pre-standing skills. Make sure baby has bare feet and is wearing loose clothing
or a diaper. Lay her down on her back. Grasp her back and sides, and gently
raise her to sitting, making sure her neck is strong enough to support her
head. Then gently raise her to standing and keep her feet near the floor. Watch
to see if she presses her feet flat on the floor, then with your continued
support, let her balance on her legs. Check to see if she raises a foot.
- Neck Strength – To
increase baby’s neck strength, place her in your lap and pull her forward a few
inches, while watching to make sure she can support her head. Gently ease her
back into the seat.
- Arm Waving – To help
your baby increase her arm control, give her lots of opportunity to move and
wave her arms. The best position for this is sitting or lying on her back. When
she flaps her arms, imitate her movements and watch her increase her waving and
flapping. Then gently move one arm and see what she does with the other
BABY’S COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
How Baby’s Brain is Maturing
- Scent Memory – One
of your baby’s best-developed senses right from birth is her sense of smell.
You already know she can recognize mom’s scent, and even dad’s. Now she’s able
to recognize other familiar smells, such as your perfume, baby lotion, or
certain fragrant toys.
- Listening to
Vocalizations – You baby loves the sound of her own voice! She’s added so many
sounds to her repertoire, she can probably entertain herself for several
minutes, just by vocalizing.
- Circular vision –
Baby’s ability to track objects is expanding rapidly. She can look side to
side, up and down, and in a small circle. As her visual activity increases, so
does her interest in her world.
How You Can Help
- Scent Memory – As
baby comes in contact with familiar scents, let her hold the items near her
face so she can smell them. Say the names of the items, remove them from her
face, then bring them back and let her smell them again. Let her smell a
variety of items and watch her reaction. You might try a lemon, a banana, some
cheese, or other food items. Make sure she doesn't place these in her mouth.
Don’t bring her in close proximity to unpleasant smells.
- Listening to Vocalizations
– Tape-record your baby’s vocalizations as she makes them, and add a few of
your own to encourage her to express herself. Then play back the tape for your
baby to enjoy, and watch her listen attentively to her own voice.
- Circular Vision –
Try a game of “Roaming Spotlight.” Sit in a darkened room with your baby in
your lap facing a wall. Shine a flashlight on the wall and watch baby attend to
it. Move the light slowly back and forth, then up and down, then around in
circles. Move slowly so she can follow the image.
BABY’S PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT
How Baby’s Personality is Unfolding
- Gestures with
Vocalizations – As baby increase her vocalization, she’ll begin to imitate your
gestures as you talk with her, by waving her arms and legs. This back and forth
conversation, using pre-speech and early gestures, is clearly a social
interaction that takes place with babies and their caregivers. Conversations
like these enhance baby’s cognitive skills and emotional attachment to her
- New Awareness of
Environment – Babies at this age are especially attentive to their caregivers.
You’ll notice that your baby gets upset when you leave, that she gets excited
when you enter the room, and that she follows you with her eyes when you move
around the room.
- Eye Contact – Baby’s
eye contact with you is increasing. She can gaze at you for longer periods of
time without a lot of added attention-getters. It’s more than just watching;
it’s an emotional connection that’s important to the bonding and attachment
process. Notice she smiles, vocalizes and moves her body more when making eye
How You Can Help
- Gestures with
Vocalizations – This is a good time for “Pat-A-Cake.” Properly harness baby in
her infant seat and sit opposite her so she can see you clearly. Play
pat-a-cake with her, going through the motions by holding her hands and
chanting the song. Try it again without holding her hands. Then again, holding
her hands. Soon she’ll begin waving in anticipation of the game.
- New Awareness of Caregiver
– Notice how baby watches you, following you around the room with her eyes.
Play a game of “Peek-A-Boo,” by ducking behind counters and chairs, then
popping out to surprise her. Move all around the room to keep her alert to the
game, so she can try to anticipate your next move.
- Eye Contact – As
baby meets your eyes, talk with her to maintain the connection as long as
possible. Move your head slightly, widen your eyes, blink and smile, to keep
her interested in her gaze.