Month 4: Top 10 Sensory Activities for 4 month old baby
8 min read
As an Occupational Therapist and a Mom I have put together top activities for your 4 month old baby. They will focus on strengthening their cognitive (mind) and motor (movement) skills.
I hope you enjoyed Josh’s 4th month story. Providing your baby with lots of movement is essential for sensory development. Which is needed for your baby’s motor skill growth. As you see from Josh’s story there are lots of ways you can move and have fun with your baby. Look out for more stories in the coming monthly activities posts.
What to expect from your 4 month old baby
Your 4 month old baby is growing fast and becoming more alert by the minute. Here are a few things that you might see your 4 month old do:
- Your baby’s head should be steady and no longer wobble.
- They can hold their head and chest upright while laying on their stomach.
- Their legs are getting stronger and they can push and kick with their feet.
- Some babies are able to roll from tummy to back. They may be practicing to roll from back to tummy.
- Your baby’s hand skills are improving. They get better at grabbing, holding and moving objects. Be aware as mostly everything that gets into their hands will get into their mouth.
- Your baby loves to communicate with you. They may be laughing, smiling and cooing.
- They are becoming more aware of their environment and notice that people around them respond to their actions. You may have started to constantly pick up objects from the floor that your little one is throwing as part of their game.
Activities for your 4 month old baby
Whenever you have the opportunity to play, try the below activities. Through play, your baby gets to experience different sensations, which help your baby’s development, both mentally and physically.
Here are my top 10 sensory activities for the 4th month of your baby’s life. These activities have been tried and tested.
1. Object exploration
Through playing and exploring a variety of objects, you help your baby’s hand development. As they play and interact with objects they practice many important skills. They learn how to grasp, hold, move and release an object. Through exploring objects of different shapes, sizes and weight, your baby is starting to strengthen all those hand muscles. This play also activates both tactile and proprioceptive senses. Choosing how hard or how soft to grab something without squishing it is part of the proprioceptive sense. It is a skill that they take many more months to master, however the foundations can be built now.
Give them lots of opportunities to explore this. It can be practiced through giving them hard and soft things to play with. Such as a rattle that can’t be squished and a feather or a foam block that can be squished.
Feel free to expand from just playing with toys. You can use random objects that you picked up around the house such as an old spice container or a large wooden spoon.
Something as simple as a clean cloth provides lots of learning opportunities. Watch them pull on it, suck on it, hold it, release it (still a little tricky at this age) and discover what happens when they scrunch it up.
They can explore while sitting supported in your lap, laying on their back or during tummy time.
Tip: Ensure you use age appropriate and safe toys and objects as most of them will end up in your baby’s mouth. Watch out for choking hazards.
2. Shake it up!
Grabbing, shaking and learning about cause & effect is lots of fun for your little one.
This can be so much fun with rattles. There are endless options out there. You can get a whole percussion set going with the combination of purchased or home made rattles. You can use standard rattles, bell rattles or grab an empty plastic bottle and make your own.
Once you have your rattles, all that’s left is to give your baby one. Join in the fun with them and see the delight in the sound it makes when they shake it.
Ideas for home made rattles:
Get a plastic bottle. You can vary sizes and shapes for a different sound and tactile experience for your baby.
You can use any of these items inside the bottle: pasta, rice, colored candy (various sizes & colors), dried beans, dried lentils etc. Basically anything that will make noise when shaken.
If you come up with some other great ideas please share them below in the comments. It will be great to hear.
3. Texture exploration
The development of the tactile system is important. A baby learns about their body and their environment though the sense of touch. Exploring textures can happen through the use of hands, feet, face… It includes their whole body. Developing a healthy tactile system helps in the development of many skills including gross and fine motor skills.
Here are some ideas:
- Play on a variety of textured fabrics or blankets. It can include sheep skin, silk, cotton etc.
- Give them various textured materials or toys to explore. Examples can include different fabrics, fur, tissue, velvet, textured toys, sponges.
- Let them explore toys or objects that are smooth, bumpy, spikey, hard, squishy, crinkly, shiny or furry.
- Look at textured books together.
- Move different textured materials over their body (arms, feet, face, belly and back). Again it can include different fabrics or toys. My son Josh loved when I tickled him with a feather.
- Bath time! Water covers their whole body and it is yet another sensation. You may even use different textured towels each time to add some variety.
Remember: Most of the objects they touch, whatever their texture, will go straight in their mouth. Make sure that the toys and objects are age appropriate and watch out for choking hazards.
These are so much fun for any age. Even for our little ones.
How to Play
Bubbles can be enjoyed while your little one is laying on their back, stomach or is in a supported seated position.
As an adult you will have to do all the blowing work. Make those bubbles fly. Make them fly high, blow them down low. Blow the bubbles on your little one’s belly or arms.
As your baby watches the bubbles fly, they stimulate their visual sense. As they land and pop on their bodies it stimulates their tactile sense. Beware: It may also make them giggle!
Have fun and blow those bubbles.
5. Let’s get rolling
Have you noticed your baby trying to roll from their back to their stomach? Try the following activity to support this skill.
While your baby is laying on their back, grab their favorite toy. You can gently encourage the rolling by holding the toy above their chest. Start moving it around to get their attention. When they start reaching for it, slowly move the toy to the side opposite to their reaching hand. Hopefully this will initiate a roll. If your baby is unable to roll over completely, gently hold their hip on their reaching hand side and gently roll them over the rest of the way.
6. Getting silly!
I know this sounds easy and it is. However, I do want to mention it to make sure that you always remember to have fun with your baby. Even though crying is still your baby’s strongest form of communication, you may start seeing more giggles, laughs and smiles.
It’s very important to make your baby laugh. It helps to build a stronger bond and gets those ‘feel good’ chemicals released into their brain.
Making your baby laugh should be quite simple. You can simply make a funny face and stick your tongue out. You can make funny noises or play different instruments. Have fun and get silly with your baby!
7. Visual sensory bottles
Visual bottles have been becoming increasingly popular. For your 4-month-old baby this is a great tool to explore. As they hold and move the bottle they use their proprioceptive sense. As they watch the contents of the bottle shift, their visual sense gets a workout.
What is great about these sensory bottles is that you literally have an endless variety of options on how you want them to look.
Some of the favorite ingredients in our house included water beads and glitter. Below I have included couple websites with many ideas to get you started. Just one important tip: make sure you remember to glue the lid to the bottle to avoid an unnecessary mess.
Here are some great ideas for visual bottles:
If you haven’t started reading to your baby yet, today is the day that you should start. Reading has many benefits, so it’s great to get into the habit of reading every day.
- Promote listening skills
- Increase language development
- Assist in the development of attention span and memory
- Promote bonding between you and your baby
- Instill the love of reading
Tips for parents
- Read to your baby in a quiet place
- You don’t have to read all the words in the book
- You can describe what you see on each page
- Have fun when reading. Use exaggerated faces, animated voices and just be silly, this will help your baby’s attention
- Use a variety of books: board books, lift a flap, or textured books.
For more information about benefits and principles on reading to your baby check out www.readtoyourbaby.com
9. Wiggles & Rhymes
There are many ways to incorporate music into your baby’s life. Combining music and movement is especially beneficial. It helps to build a great foundation of skills by incorporating many of the sensory systems. As your baby listens to music, they stimulate their auditory sense. You can support your baby on your lap and sway, rock and bounce while stimulating both proprioceptive and vestibular sensory systems.
What to play? Anything really. You can play your favorite tunes or sing your baby’s favorite nursery rhymes. “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”, “Humpty Dumpty” and “I’m a Little Tea Pot” are some of my favorites.
Have fun and get your baby moving!
10. Tummy time
Spending time on their tummy helps your baby build coordination. It also strengthens your baby’s neck, shoulders, arms and trunk. These muscles help with the motor skills such as rolling over, crawling, pulling self up and sitting up. Read more about Tummy Time and how to incorporate it into play with your baby.
There you have it. My top 10 Sensory Activities for your 4 month old. Many exciting activities you can do today to help your child develop better.
These are just a few activities that are bound to spark other ideas. Just remember that every new sensory experience is helping your child’s growth and development.
Remember: each baby develops at their own pace. If your child is not ready or not interested in this month’s activities, just try them again in a few weeks.
For feedback or further questions please leave a comment below.
Disclaimer: The activities in this blog are intended for sensory play. They are not a replacement for treatment of children with Sensory Processing Disorder, are not medical advice and should not be used in place of the care of a medical doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. These activities should be facilitated and supervised by an adult. All activities are to be performed at your own risk and in no event shall Sensory Lifestyle be liable for any damages.
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