How your baby grows and develops: 2-4 months

Milestones matter! How your child plays, learns, speaks, acts, and moves offers important clues about their development.

This is a general guide to infants from two to four months of age. Remember, each child is unique and will grow and develop at their own pace. It is normal for a child to be behind in some areas and ahead in others. For babies born prematurely, milestones are based on their corrected age (your baby’s actual age minus the number of weeks or months they were born early).

Babies can’t be spoiled so feel free to play, cuddle and respond to all your baby’s cues and cries. You can help your baby learn and grow.


Your baby is increasingly aware of the people around them and will try to get your attention. When you consistently respond to your baby’s cries and smiles, you help them develop trust and self-confidence.

By 4 months your baby is getting more interactive.  They may: You can help your baby learn by: Safety tip:
  • Begin to smile at people
  • Be able to calm themselves by sucking on hands
  • Will look for a parent
  • Enjoys playing with people
  • Shows excitement by waving arms and legs
  • Responding to your baby’s cries babbles and coos. When you consistently respond to your baby. you help build your relationship with your baby.
  • Cuddling, talking, and playing with your baby when they are being feed, dressed, and bathed.
  • Holding and talking to your baby; smile and be cheerful while you do.
  • Playing games like Peekaboo, This Little Piggy Went to Market and Patty-Cake with baby.
  • Getting your baby to copy your expressions. Try giving a large smile, or sticking out your tongue and give your bay time to imitate you. You can also try imitating your baby.
  • Setting a regular schedule. Also, help your baby get into a routine, such as sleeping at more at night than in the day.
Never shake your baby.  If you are feeling tired and frustrated, ask someone else to watch your baby while you take time to calm down, or gently place your baby in the crib, cradle or bassinet and leave the room to get your feelings under control.  Shaking a baby can cause permanent brain damage and even death. See Why is my baby crying? What can I do? for tips on comforting your baby and staying calm.

This is where communication really starts to take off.  You may start to notice that your baby actually has different cries for when they are hungry, in pain or tired. In this way, your baby can tell you what they need.  Your baby will like to make sounds and have you copy them back as a conversation.

By four months your baby is beginning to find their voice and may: You can help your baby learn by: Hot parent tips:
  • Start to babble, laugh and squeal
  • Copy sounds
  • Have different cries to let you know that they are hungry, in pain or are tired
  • Talking, reading and singing to your baby throughout the day
  • Have “conversations” with your baby by replying to their babbles. Repeat the sound and wait them to make another.
  • Describe your baby’s actions to her. For example, if baby reaches for something say “You are reaching for your teddy bear. Do you want that bear?”
  • Baby talk is fine, but also speak real words to your baby to help them learn language and meaning.
  • When you ask your baby a question, give them plenty of time for them to respond. It takes a while for the baby to think and then make a sound back.
  • If baby turns away, closes their eyes or get fussy, they may be telling you that they are overstimulated and need a break.

Your baby is learning all the time. They are beginning to understand cause and effect – if your baby swats a toy on the infant gym, they will start to expect it to make a noise.

By four months your baby is already figuring things out and may: You can help your baby learn by: Safety tips:
  • Be more awake and more curious about people and surroundings.
  • Start to explore objects and toys with her eyes, hands and mouth.
  • Reaches for toys that they want
  • Recognizes familiar people and things at a distance.
  • Encouraging play by offering toys with different colours shapes, sizes, textures and sounds.
  • Using an infant gym with objects that your baby can swat at.
  • Holding a toy just out of baby’s reach for baby to reach, swat at and grab.
  • Understanding that if your baby becomes fussy, squirmy or starts to cry, your baby may be telling you that they need a break.
As babies explore, they love to put everything into their mouths.

  • Make sure that the toys are age-appropriate to avoid choking hazards. If there are older siblings in the home make sure that small parts from toys are kept safely away from baby.
  • Be aware of items which might have lead paint, or other toxins.
  • Avoid letting your baby watch the television, smart phone or computer screen. Screen time is not recommended for children under two years of age.
  • Model healthy screen use by turning off screens when not in use and not playing the TV in the background.

Babies develop so fast.  They gain strength starting from the head and moving down their bodies.  At first, they need their parents for everything, but as they develop, they learn to roll over, and reach for things they want.

By four months your baby continues to learn how to use their body and hands and may: You can help your baby learn by: Safety tips:
  • Hold head steady, unsupported
  • Stretch and kick their legs to strengthen leg muscles which prepares them for rolling over.
  • Sit up with support
  • Roll from tummy to back
  • Bring hands to mouth
  • Bat at or grasp toys
  • Push down on legs when feet are on a hard surface
  • Giving baby tummy-time to help strengthen the neck, arms and shoulders.
  • Once your baby can hold up their head, helping them practice sitting by propping them using your body, pillows or a supportive seat.
  • Putting toys near your baby so that she can reach for them or kick her feet.
  • Putting a toy or rattle in your baby’s hand and help them to hold it.
  • Holding your baby upright with feet on the floor, and sing or talk to your baby as she “stands” with support.
Babies develop skills quickly. One day they can’t roll over, the next day they can.  Parents need to be one step ahead of their baby’s next move to keep them safe.

  • Babies roll. Always keep one hand on your baby when they are on high surfaces like change tables to prevent a fall.
  • Always supervise your baby if they are propped up in a seated position.
  • Supervise tummy time so that baby’s head doesn’t get stuck face down, which could cause suffocation.
  • Small items are a choking hazard for babies. Keep small things safely away from baby.
  • Babies need to sleep in a safe sleep environment.   Place baby on their back in a crib, cradle or bassinet with a firm mattress, with no pillows, blankets, toys.

Most infants will see their doctor or nurse at 4 months for a check-up and immunizations. This is a good time to talk about your child’s development.

You Know Your Child Best

Act early if you have concerns about the way your child plays, learns, speaks, acts, or moves, or if your child:

  • Is missing milestones
  • Doesn’t watch things as they move
  • Doesn’t smile at people
  • Can’t hold head steady
  • Doesn’t coo or make sounds
  • Doesn’t bring things to mouth
  • Doesn’t push down with legs when feet are placed on a hard surface
  • Has trouble moving one or both eyes in all directions

Tell your child’s doctor or nurse if you notice any of these signs of possible developmental delay and ask for a developmental screening.  DON’T WAIT. Acting early can make a real difference!

For more information:


Caring for Kids: Information for Parents from Canada’s Paediatricians

Centre for Disease Control and Prevention: CDC’s Developmental Milestones