4 months old: Gross motor skill development

4 months old: Gross motor skill development

Your baby’s gross motor skill development at 4 months old. Follow your baby’s milestones step-by-step.

Gross motor skill development allows babies to exercise their balance, coordination, and large muscles. These abilities will help your little one master certain movements, such as sitting, crawling, walking, running, climbing, and jumping. Developing gross motor skills is also an important step toward developing fine motor skills.



Gross motor skill development: 4 months old

At this age:

  • Your baby can lift their head and chest when lying on their stomach and lean on their forearms.
Remember that not all children develop the same skills at the same speed. The material on this website is for general information purposes only. If you’re concerned about your child’s development, speak with a doctor.
  • When sitting in your lap, they reach forward to grasp at objects.
  • They turn their head in all directions to follow a toy with their eyes when lying on their back or stomach.
  • They can lie on their side without rolling onto their back.
  • They bring both hands to their chest and keep their head straight when lying on their back.
  • They can stretch out their arms and legs and keep them in the air for about 3 seconds while lying on their stomach.
  • Your baby can touch objects at chest level with both hands and follow them with their eyes if they’re brought toward their belly button.
  • They can bring toys to their mouth.
  • They keep their head steady when held in a sitting position and may prefer to sit instead of lying down. But don’t forget about tummy time: according to the Canadian Paediatric Society, babies should be placed on their stomach for 10 to 15 minutes at least 3 times a day.
  • They might accidentally roll onto their sides and back when lying on their stomach.
  • They can support their weight on their feet and stay upright when being held around the chest.

Over the next few weeks, your baby will begin to do the following:

  • Move their arms and legs together when lying on their back.
  • Track objects with their head and eyes and grab them with their hands.
  • Support their weight on closed fists when lying on their stomach.
  • Use their arm and abdominal muscles when you pull them up from lying down into a sitting position.
  • Bring their feet to their mouth.
What to watch out for
  • If your baby shows no interest in the toys you offer them and doesn’t reach for them when sitting or lying on their back, speak to a doctor.
  • Even at 4 months of age, make sure your baby’s head isn’t always turned to the same side to prevent flat head syndrome. Talk to a doctor if you have any concerns.

How can you help your baby progress?

Every child is different and develops at their own pace. That said, you can help foster your baby’s development by adopting the Comfort, Play, and Teach parenting approach, which can easily be integrated into your daily routine. The table below outlines small, age-specific actions you can take that will benefit your baby’s gross motor development.

Comfort
When you place your baby in different positions throughout the day (e.g., you hold them to your shoulder, then put them in your lap, then lay them on their back or stomach),
 
they discover and enjoy the changes in perspective.
When you pay attention to which positions your baby likes and doesn’t like,
 
they feel respected and valued.
Teach
When you lay your baby on their back and place their hands flat on their knees to roll them from side to side,
 
they can feel their abdominal muscles working as they change positions.
When you bring your baby’s knees to their chest and their toes to their chin to the rhythm of a song,
 
they feel their legs and toes move and become aware of their body.
Play
When you place a toy in front of your baby and then move them and the toy to different positions,
 
they learn to look at an object from different angles and can practise grasping at it.
When you cross your baby’s legs while they’re lying on their back and gently roll them onto their side,
 
they discover the sensation of their body moving from one position to another.

 

Naître et grandir

Scientific review: Sonya Côté and Virginia Sabourin, occupational therapists
Research and copywriting: The Naître et grandir team
Updated: March 2019

 

Photo: iStock.com/YinYang

 

Sources

Please note that hyperlinks to other websites are not updated regularly, and some may have changed since publication. It is therefore possible that a link may not be found. If a link is no longer valid, use search engines to find the relevant information.

  • American Academy of Pediatrics. “Movement Milestones: Babies 4 to 7 Months.” www.healthychildren.org
  • Centre de santé et de services sociaux (CSSS) du Suroît. Développement moteur de l’enfant (0 à 12 mois) : pour mieux vous guider.www.santemonteregie.qc.ca
  • Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development. Physical Activity in Early Childhood: Setting the Stage for Lifelong Healthy Habits. April 2011. www.child-encyclopedia.com
  • Ferland, Francine. Le développement de l’enfant au quotidien : de 0 à 6 ans. 2nd ed., Éditions du CHU Sainte-Justine, 2018, 264 pp.
  • Canadian Paediatric Society. Caring for Kids. ”Your child’s development: What to expect.” www.caringforkids.cps.ca

 

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