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.

Back to Articles


Related Articles

Choosing Safe Baby Products

Choosing baby products can be confusing, but one consideration must never be compromised: your little one's safety.

Read More

Communication and Your 4- to 7-Month-Old

Your baby's range of sounds and facial expressions continues to grow, and your baby is also imitating sounds, which are the first attempts at speaking.

Read More

Medical Care and Your 4- to 7-Month-Old

Because your baby begins to show his or her personality during these months, your questions may move from simple sleeping and eating concerns to those about physical and social development.

Read More

Your Baby's Hearing, Vision, and Other Senses: 4 Months

Your baby is working on all five senses, understanding and anticipating more and more. How can you stimulate your baby's senses?

Read More

Your Baby's Growth: 4 Months

Your baby is growing in many ways. Here's what to expect this month.

Read More

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. Provide a safe place to practice moving and lots of interesting objects to reach for.

Read More

Sleep and Your 4- to 7-Month-Old

By this age, your baby should be on the way to having a regular sleep pattern, sleeping longer at night, and taking 2 or 3 naps during the day.

Read More

Communication and Your 8- to 12-Month-Old

Babies this age might be about to say their first words, and communicate using body language. Read more about communicating with your baby.

Read More

Your Baby's Growth: 8 Months

Your baby is growing by leaps and bounds, and may even be crawling or cruising. Here's what to expect this month.

Read More

Sleep and Your 8- to 12-Month-Old

Sleep problems are common in the second half of a baby's first year. It's best to respond to your baby's needs with the right balance of concern and consistency.

Read More

Your Baby's Hearing, Vision, and Other Senses: 8 Months

Here's how you can stimulate your baby's senses and provide a safe environment for exploration.

Read More

Learning, Play, and Your 8- to 12-Month-Old

Your baby is learning more about the world through play and is beginning to use words. Keep those toys and games coming!

Read More

Learning, Play, and Your 1- to 2-Year-Old

Kids go from babies to toddlers during this time, from first steps to walking well. They also make major strides in language and communication.

Read More

Reading Books to Babies

Reading aloud to your baby stimulates developing senses, and builds listening and memory skills that can help your baby grow up to be a reader.

Read More

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.

Search our entire site.