How to Entertain a High Energy, Fussy 4 Month Old

4 months is a tough time for a baby… So many changes! According to The Wonder Weeks, the “leap” that your baby enters around 4 months is a big one. He will now be able to perceive transitions (observing a bouncing ball, grasping objects with his hands, etc…) and starts to notice and enjoy sounds (especially your voice!) His awareness of the world around him has become undeniable.

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But with all of these acquired skills comes some unavoidable fussiness. Most babies around 4 months tend to become a lot more assertive: they grumble when they are impatient, push the breast away when they have had enough, want more attention at all times (yes, he is now aware that you are no longer in the room.) You will notice that you often need to be very imaginative and come up with as many activities as you can to prevent an impending meltdown.

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Another difficult consequence of this learning curve is the dreaded “4 month sleep regression”. Never heard of it? Around this time, your baby’s sleep matures — it becomes dynamic and your baby will start to go through different sleep stages. Be ready for some changes, whether in terms of your baby’s sleeping (night wakings, shorter naps) or eating patterns (more or less of it), either during the day or at night.

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With all of these changes, here are 8 activities and toys that we consider “miracles” for Liam… They help us keep him busy and happy. Hopefully they’ll become staples in your household too 🙂

  1. Superman” – This is my husband’s favorite. When Liam gets annoyed with the typical “hold”, Joe will hold him horizontally and literally have him fly through the house, at various heights. Liam always squeals with delight! (Warning: Just make sure his last feeding was at least 1.5 hours ago…It could be disastrous.)
  2. Assisted Sit Ups – At around 4 months, a baby can usually hold his head up pretty well. To help him practice sitting, pull him up by his hands, having him use his arm strength. You’ll notice he’ll pull himself up almost on his own and can sit with your help.  Liam loves the change of scenery.
  3. Stand & Jump – This usually gets Liam giggling: I hold him upright and “throw” him high (without letting go, of course) then back to eye level. The more I do it, the more he seems to have fun!
  4. Fisher Price Jumperoo (Love U Zoo) – We introduced the jumperoo when Liam was almost 4 months old. Although he could hold his head up perfectly fine, the upright position seemed to overwhelm him. Now, Liam enjoys jumping up and down and touching all the different toys. I can’t wait to see how entertained he’ll be at 5-6 months!
  5. Sophie the Giraffe and the Wubbanub – The classics. Liam loves his Wubbanub to go to sleep and Sophie when he’s hanging out in his crib. We’ve recently introduced other soft teethers and he seems to enjoy them as well… He seems to be enjoying anything that fits in his mouth lately. does that mean we’ll be dealing with teething soon?!
  6. Tiny Love, Soothe, and Groove Mobile Liam has always loved his mobile and it has always allowed us get things done during the day. Hallelujah. The Tiny Love, Soothe, and Groove mobile has multiple song options and we love that the three animals spin as they rotate.
  7. Oball Infant Rattle – This was the first toy that Liam was able to grip. Due to its round shape and many holes, he is even able to grab it when he is hanging out in his crib. It’s funny watching him try to put it in his mouth over and over… unsuccessfully.
  8. Yoga/Exercise Ball – On very fussy nights, the yoga ball is a lifesaver. I’ve mentioned it before and truly recommend it for new mamas — the motion seems to always soothe and put him to sleep.

If all fails, taking a walk outside or a quick car ride in the neighborhood always work. We spend a lot of time in our yard or walking up and down the street. Liam likes the crisp fall air and bumpy road!

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Johanna Riehm teaches in the department of Communication and Media at Manhattanville College and in the department of English at Mercy College. She teaches courses in the history of communication, public speaking, and social media, as well as creative and technical writing workshops. Johanna’s work has been featured in Graffiti Literary Magazine, The Write Place at the Write Time, The Bangalore Review, Cactus Heart Press, and the LaMothe Review. She is working on her first longer work, a creative nonfiction novel called We Carved Our Names in Tamarind Trees.

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