Movement, Coordination, and Your 4- to 7-Month-Old
At this age, kids are learning to roll over, reach out to get what they want, and sit up.
You can help your child by providing a safe place to practice moving and lots of interesting objects to reach for or move toward.
How Babies This Age Move
By now babies should be able to hold their head and chest up when lying on their stomach. During this stage, they begin pushing their head and chest further by straightening the arms and arching the back, which strengthens chest and back muscles.
Your child also might begin moving his or her legs and rocking on the stomach. In this way, babies are getting ready to roll over and build up to crawling.
During this period, your baby will probably learn to roll over in both directions. So be sure to never leave your little one unattended. These newfound movements could cause a child to fall from a bed or couch unless supervised. Even if your child never rolled over before, there's always a first time. Babies like to surprise parents that way.
With improved neck and trunk strength, babies learn to sit when placed in that position with support. Over these months, your baby will learn to lean forward with arms outstretched for support, then gradually gain the strength and confidence to sit unaided, though he or she won't be able to get into a sitting position without some help.
Leg strength is also improving. Your baby will learn to support all his or her weight when held in a standing position. It's important not to force a baby to stand who is not ready, but by 7 months most infants enjoy standing (and bouncing!).
Reaching and Grabbing
Babies use their hands more and more and will learn to reach and grab for what they want. They're also learning how to pass an object from one hand to the other, how to turn them round and round for inspection, and how to pick up objects by raking things with the fingers into their grasp.
Give your child lots of toys with sounds and textures to pick up, shake, and explore. Be careful with small objects because babies will place just about anything they can into their mouths for further exploration, so watch for potential choking hazards.
Encouraging Your Child's Movement
Have a designated safe play space where favorite toys can be kept within your baby's reach. Continue to let your baby spend time on his or her tummy. In this position, encourage your baby to lift his or her head and chest off the floor. Make some noises, shake a rattle to entice your child to look, then lift up. Place a favorite toy in front of your baby to encourage forward movement.
Let your baby practice sitting by supporting your child with your hands or with a pillow behind his or her back. In a sitting position, your baby's hands are free to reach for and explore toys.
From a sitting position, help your baby pull to stand. One. Two. THREE! While standing, let your baby bounce a few times before lowering him or her back down.
These three positions (tummy, sitting, standing) let babies exercise their muscles and master the skills needed to move to the next developmental level.
When to Call the Doctor
Development follows a pattern that builds on skills your child previously gained. The time it takes for kids to achieve specific skills can vary widely, but if you're concerned about your child's development, talk to your doctor.
Let your doctor know if your child doesn't:
- use an arm, leg, or one side of body
- roll over
- bear weight on legs
- sit while supported
- reach for objects
Lingering newborn reflexes also may need attention at this age, so check with your doctor if your infant still exhibits the Moro or tonic neck reflex:
- The Moro reflex causes an infant to suddenly throw his or her arms out to the sides and then quickly bring them back toward the middle of the body whenever he or she has been startled by a loud noise, bright light, strong smell, sudden movement, or other stimulus.
- The tonic neck reflex is also called a fencer's pose. When an infant's head is turned to one side, it's likely that he or she will automatically straighten the arm on that side of the body while bending the opposite arm.
Failure to reach individual milestones doesn't necessarily mean there is a problem. But it is worth discussing with your doctor, who can recommend further assessment, if needed.