Many children will develop skills in the same order. However, it’s not a question of days or weeks – children will develop at their own pace. Some child developments, for example language skills, are inherited. If you started to speak at an early age, it’s likely that your child will too. If you are worried about your child’s development, talk to your paediatrician.
- Breastfeeding: Mother’s milk is easily digestible and remains the best form of nutrition for your baby. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months. Although it’s great to see your child responding more and more to the world around her as she gets older, it makes breastfeeding more difficult, because she’s more easily distracted. Try to find a quiet place for breastfeeding.
- Rolling over: While lying on her stomach, your baby is starting to lift her head and shoulders off the floor by pushing herself up with her arms. These mini push-ups strengthen her arms and help her see what’s going on in the room. Maybe your child will surprise you (and herself!) by rolling over from her stomach to her back and vice versa. Celebrate this achievement with your baby – she needs your reassurance, particularly when she does something she’s not completely sure about.
- Solid food: Up to the age of 6 months, your child will get all the nutrients she needs from breast milk or formula. Talk to your doctor, local health centre or lactation consultant about introducing solids. Many doctors and the World Health Organisation advise against introducing solids before 6 months.
- Stretching, grabbing, putting things in their mouths: Your baby can now stretch out and grab for objects, even if she doesn’t always grasp them at first. As soon as she has the object in her small fist, she’ll look at it for a moment and then put it in her mouth. Encourage your baby to discover and play with different things, for example cloth nappies, rattles or a bell tied to string. She will discover cause and effect by crumpling and releasing the material or by pulling on the string attached to the bell. To prevent choking, don’t let her play with small objects.
- Teething: Maybe your baby is starting to dribble more. Some babies start teething at this age, but teeth don’t usually appear before 6 months. To soothe the pain, your child will suck on her fist. Some babies get a high temperature, suffer from diarrhoea and/or sleep badly while they’re teething.
- Independent play: At 4 months, your baby is happy to play alone for a few minutes. If you notice it’s suddenly gone quiet in the room next door, you’ll probably find your baby playing happily with her hands and feet.
- Language: Researchers believe that at 4 months babies already understand the basic elements of their native language. At around 6 months, babies are able to produce their first speech sounds, such as “ma-ma”, “da da”. However, at this age, she doesn’t connect these sounds with her parents. But she can take part in games by imitating the sounds you make. This strengthens her developing communication skills.
- Colour preferences: Although babies can see from birth, they have difficulties initially in differentiating between similar shades, e.g. red and orange. This is why they initially prefer black and white or other strongly contrasting colours. Between 2 and 4 months, your baby can identify differences in colour and shade more clearly. Mobiles in primary colours, bright pictures and expressive picture books are sure to catch her eye.
- Picky with people: From 4 months, your baby will respond to your presence, voice and gestures by kicking her legs and waving her arms. Up to now, she’s probably greeted everyone with a smile, but she’s getting a bit pickier now. Give her time to adjust when she meets strangers, including babysitters.