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Learning, Play, and Your 4- to 7-Month-Old

What Is My Baby Learning?

By 4 months old, your baby has learned to recognize you and familiar caregivers, focus and pay attention to things, and actively engage your attention.

Continue to foster the learning process by engaging, responding, and encouraging exploration. Provide chances for practicing and building on what your little one learns with age-appropriate toys and a safe environment to explore.

Your child will be drawn to colors, patterns, and shapes of different objects and toys. By reaching out for things, babies learn about touch, shape, and texture.

Learning happens when your baby is allowed to hold, inspect, and explore an object. Your tot is likely to put it into his or her mouth for further exploration. It's important to make sure that choking hazards and other unsafe items are out of reach or, even better, out of sight!

Baby's first words are still a couple of months away. But your infant is learning a lot about language. Babies can distinguish between different sounds, and begin to connect words with activities. By the end of this period, babies recognize and respond to their own name.

Babies start to babble and use sounds to get your attention. Talk to your baby and respond to the sounds he or she makes. This helps teach the social aspects of language and conversation.

What Is "Object Permanence"?

Your baby also will begin to get a sense of object permanence (knowing that something can exist, even when it's out of sight). This knowledge will prompt your baby to search for an object that you have partially hidden and to drop toys and other objects over the side of a crib or high chair to watch you retrieve them.

Besides learning that an object exists even after it's dropped out of sight, babies start understanding cause and effect (that an action causes a reaction).

As your baby masters this concept, expect your little one to find more ways to make thing happen!

How Can I Help My Baby Learn?

By the end of this period, your baby will be rolling over, sitting, and reaching for everything. Create a safe place for exploration (with supervision). Make the space inviting and fun with age-appropriate toys in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. It's never too soon to childproof the playspace, even if your baby isn't mobile yet — it will happen before you know it.

As your baby babbles and explores how to use his or her voice, keep responding. Reinforce the sounds by repeating them and introduce new sounds and simple words, then watch as your baby tries to imitate you.

Introducing Books

If you haven't already, introduce books now. When you read to your infant, say the names of the objects, people, and animals as you point to them. Make the sounds of the animals and the objects in the book. Encourage your child to hold and explore the books.

Choose baby books with simple pictures and faces and those with lots of textures to feel, like Pat the Bunny. Also look for cloth, vinyl, and sturdy board books that won't rip and can withstand a little drooling and chewing.

Some Other Ideas

  • During tummy time, place a favorite toy or soft ball in front of the baby to reach for.
  • Hide a toy — but don't hide it very well — and encourage your baby to find it.
  • Play "Peekaboo."
  • Let your baby discover that actions can make things happen. Provide toys that move or make sounds when your baby plays with them, such as baby musical instruments, busy boxes, or see-through toys that show motion.
  • Sing nursery rhymes like "Baa, Baa Black Sheep" and "Hey Diddle Diddle."

Keep in mind that babies develop at different rates, and there is a wide range of normal development. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about your baby's development.