3 - 4 Month Check
- Introducing Solids (Weaning)
- Baby teeth
- Ways To Play
- Vitamins And Health
- Keeping Safe
It is often around 3-4 months that friends and family start asking you when you are going to try your baby on solids. Advice has changed a lot over the years and experts now say that babies only need breast or formula milk on demand until they are six months old.
This gives babies time to develop so they can eat solids safely in an upright position. It also reduces the risk of conditions like eczema, asthma and food intolerances. Read more about this and how to wean at Start4Life *here*.
At around this time your baby will begin to show interest when you are eating. They may also seem to want more milk or wake more often. These are very normal stages and do not mean that your baby needs solids.
- Your baby is learning a lot by watching you.
- If your baby is demanding more milk and waking more often it is fine to give them more milk. They are getting more active and this will make them feel hungrier.
All babies are different and some will not be quite ready for solids even at six months. To safely start eating food your baby needs to be able to do all of these three things;
- Hold their head and neck up steadily when sitting.
- Be able to pick up food and bring it to their mouth.
- Move food around in their mouth and swallow it - not spit most of it out.
If you are not sure if your baby is ready, or if your baby was born prematurely, ask your health visitor or GP for advice on when to start introducing solid foods.
There are some big advantages to waiting until your baby is six months old;
- They are more able to support their head and neck. This means they can eat safely with less risk of choking.
- They can feed themselves (finger feeding). This means they learn to stop when they are full. This can help to prevent obesity in later life.
- They will be learning to use their fingers to pick up small objects. They may get messy but learning to eat should be a lot of fun!
- Chewing food develops jaw muscles and will help speech development.
- They can have ‘lumpy’ food. This means they can try lots of different foods, tastes and textures.
*Click Here* for more information on weaning.
You may be wondering when your baby will get teeth, or how you will be able to comfort your baby if teething makes them unhappy. First teeth usually appear at around six months but teething might begin sooner.
Now is a good time to register your baby with your NHS Dentist. If you are not registered you can find out how *here*.
Caring for your own teeth will set a good example for your child as they grow.
You will have really noticed the changes in what your baby can do. Their personality will be really shining through. This is a very special time.
- Your baby may already be chuckling or laughing softly. They will be making lots more noises and be showing their excitement when they see and hear you.
- Their eyesight is much better and your baby will move their eyes from side to side or up and down to watch their toys, or the cat! They can move their head from side to side when laying down. They are interested in everything.
These new skills mean they can begin to watch and then reach up towards things dangled above them.
- They can start to enjoy time playing on their tummy. Maybe holding their head up for 15 seconds and having a look around.
- They will notice their hands and fingers - looking at and playing with them.
- With practise they will be able to hold toys for about a minute. They start to put toys in their mouth. They will try and ‘help’ at feed time, holding on to your breast or the bottle.
Their smiles will be coming easily now and they will love smiling and cooing at themselves in a mirror.
All of these skills mean your baby is learning to communicate, problem solve, be sociable and enjoy physical activity. The time you spend playing and talking to them help these skills develop more.
Babies are born ready to learn. Play is a fun way to help your baby develop. You are their ‘first teacher’ and their favourite playmate. By picking up your baby when they cry, singing or playing peekaboo over and over again, you are building your baby's brain.
Small children learn best from everyday experiences with you. Talking to them about the things they show an interest in, helping them explore the things around them will help their development.
You don’t need expensive toys or equipment – having you with them is the most important thing. You could try;
- Playing on the floor with them so they can stretch, kick and practice rolling.
- Helping them practise ’tummy time’ to develop their pushing up and head holding skills.
- Talking, looking at books and singing songs to help with early language skills.
- Give them different textures to feel, dangle toys above them and talk about what they are doing.
Praise your baby for trying and share their pride when they manage something new. *Click Here* for information on the benefits of play and play ideas for different age groups.
Vitamin D is important for healthy bone growth. *Click here* to see the latest advice on who should take supplements.
Healthy Start Vouchers
Find out if you qualify for Healthy Start Vouchers that you can use towards buying fruit, milk and veg as well as vouchers for vitamins *here*.
Immunisations are an important part of keeping your baby healthy. You can find out more about what immunisations your baby will need and when by looking at the links below;
- Find out more about how immunisations protect your baby *here*.
- During the COVID-19 outbreak it is still very important your baby gets their immunisations as recommended. Find out more *here*.
Always seek advice if you have worries your baby may not be well. You know your baby best and you should not put off asking for help if you are worried. This is just as true during the COVID-19 outbreak. You can call your GP, or 111. If you feel that your baby is dangerously ill call 999.
You could download this Lullaby Trust App which can talk you through a checklist that can help you decide if your baby is unwell and needs help - but you should always trust your instincts.
At around 4 months of age your baby may start rolling. This puts them at higher risk from accidents. Babies can roll very fast and for quite a long way once they get the hang of it. Babies need a close eye kept on them to keep them safe.
You can reduce the risk of accidents if you;
- Change your baby on the floor so they can't fall.
- Don’t leave them on their own unless they are safely in their cot. Once they can roll moses baskets aren't safe for them.
- Move breakable or special things out of reach.
- Pad sharp corners on furniture or large objects.
- Pick up small objects that a baby could choke on if they put them in their mouth.
It's a good time to plan ahead as your baby will get more and more mobile. Have a crawl around your house and see what might be risky for your little one. Remember you will soon need stair gates and cupboard locks for when your baby gets more mobile.
*Click Here* for more advice on home safety and preventing accidents.
Safe sleeping advice is still very important, to reduce the risks of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Your baby should still be sharing a room with you and be put to sleep on their back. You can remind yourself of all the safe sleep advice *here*.
If your baby can roll you should still put them down to sleep on their back. If they roll in their sleep then try not to worry they are mobile enough to change their position.
Your baby will be awake for longer periods now. Their sleep pattern will change.
At 3 months old your baby will need around 4-5 hours of sleep in the daytime, as well as about 10-11 hours at night. This sleep happens in smaller sessions. They are still very likely to wake in the night. All babies develop a sleep pattern in their own time and it is still early days. By the time children are a year old, they may be more able to sleep through the night.
One of the things that can help your baby learn to settle at night is to begin a bedtime routine. Have the same things happen at the same time – like a bath, pyjamas and then feed. Keep lighting low and your voice quiet when you put them to bed. It is great if they can get in the habit of being put in their cot drowsy but not asleep – this helps them learn to drift back to sleep again when they wake in the night.
There is more information on helping your baby get into a sleep pattern *here*.