Baby’s development from birth to four months

At birth there is still so much learning and developing to do. Baby is completely dependent on their parents and carers to survive.

Baby’s main job is to make others respond with love and care through being touched, held, talked to and smiled at.

Feeling secure in loving relationships allows baby to learn lots – like their home language sounds, who family members are and how to move body parts.

Language (talking and listening)

At this age, baby is learning ways to communicate with you. Baby could:

  • cry, coo, babble and grunt
  • copy tongue movements
  • start to squeal and giggle.

To support their development, you can:

  • copy baby’s sounds
  • cuddle, talk and listen to baby
  • learn baby’s signals and respond.

Learn more ways you can support their language development at this age.

Social-emotional (behaviour and emotions)

At this age, baby could:

  • sleep lots
  • cry – they may be hungry, tired, or in pain
  • go quiet at the sound of a human voice
  • enjoy being held by known people
  • get excited for feeding
  • make movements and sounds to get attention across a room
  • look at hands
  • recognise familiar people.

To support their development, you can:

  • make eye contact across the room
  • let baby watch your face when you talk
  • gently touch and hold baby
  • play games – peekaboo
  • respond to baby’s cries quickly and in warm and familiar ways.

Learn more ways you can support their social-emotional development at this age.

Cognitive (thinking and making connections)

Baby is learning about their world. At this age, baby could:

  • sense colour
  • look towards sounds
  • focus on objects a short distance away – up to 20cm
  • start to pay attention for longer
  • follow moving objects with eyes.

To support their development, you can:

  • make gestures baby can copy – smiling, blowing kisses, waving goodbye, clapping hands
  • copy what baby does, matching their pace.

Learn more ways you can support their cognitive development at this age.

Physical (growth and health)

At this age, baby could:

  • have a wobbly head sitting up
  • squirm, wave arms and move legs up and down
  • explore with mouth more than eyes, ears or nose
  • lift head when on tummy
  • start to reach and grasp
  • roll side to back
  • start staying awake longer
  • recognise familiar voices.

To support their development, you can:

  • create safe and secure places for nappy changing, sleeping and feeding
  • give toys safe for mouth
  • breastfeed
  • eat good food
  • touch – cuddle, rock, roll, lap play, massage.

Learn more ways you can support their physical development at this age.

Babies reach milestones at different times. If you are ever worried about their development you can visit an Early Years Place or health service to safely talk about your concerns.

Published — 20 February 2019 Last updated — 11 March 2019

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If you had a spare moment, what would you most likely do with the child?

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