Learning, Play & Your 4- to 7- Month-Old

How You Can Help Foster Learning

Learning, Play & Your 4- to 7- Month-Old

What Babies Are 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. Your infant will learn to sit during this time, and, in the next few months, will begin exploring by reaching out for objects and grasping and inspecting them.

Continue to foster the learning process by engaging, responding and encouraging as your child develops a stronger body, a curious mind and a feel for language.

Exploring will be a big part of this stage. 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.

Your baby’s ability to reach and hold objects will mature now, and, after successfully grasping an object, your tot is likely to put it into his or her mouth for further exploration. It’s important to make sure any objects that could be choking hazards—or dangerous to your baby in other ways—are out of reach, or, even better, out of sight.

Although first words are still a couple of months away, your infant is learning a lot about language and will begin to distinguish between different sounds even though he or she doesn’t understand what the words mean. By the end of this period, your baby will recognize and respond to his or her own name.

Your baby will also learn how to use his or her voice. Cooing sounds may be mixed with other consonant and vowel sounds such as “ba” and “da,” and will evolve into babbling. Talk to your infant and respond to the sounds he or she makes—this helps teach the social aspects of language and conversation.

Learning Object Permanence

Your baby will also begin to get a sense of object permanence: 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.

By doing this, babies learn that an object exists even after it’s dropped out of sight and start understanding cause and effect.

Encourage Learning

Create a safe place for exploration, because, by the end of 7 months, your baby will be rolling over, sitting and reaching for everything.

Make play spaces inviting and fun with age-appropriate toys in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and textures. Everyday objects, like wooden spoons, plastic containers and cups, also stimulate creativity and curiosity. It’s not so much the toy that’s important, but the way it can help your baby learn.

As your baby babbles and explores how to use his or her voice, keep responding. Reinforce the sounds by repeating them, introduce new sounds and simple words, then watch as your baby tries to imitate you.

Introducing Books

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends reading to kids every day, starting around 6 months of age.

If you haven’t already, introduce books now. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends reading to kids every day, starting around 6 months of age. When you read to your infant, say the names of the objects, people and animals as you point to them, and make the sounds of the animals and the objects in the book.

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.

Photos: istockphoto.com