My baby just turned 4 months old. You know what’s great about this age? He isn’t a newborn. But you know what’s challenging? He isn’t a newborn.
In the last few weeks he has transformed from a sleepy little thing who would doze all day to a real baby who wants to nap in his bed for a couple hours and then be awake and play for a few hours. And lately while he’s awake, I’ve noticed he has started making this new, whiney noise. When we first started hearing it my 3 year-old said, “Oh mama! I think the baby is hungry!” And my 5 year-old chimed in, “No, no, he’s tired.” And I had to explain to both of the big kids, “Nope! I know what’s wrong. The baby is actually bored.”
I forgot about this stage of baby development. He is old enough that he is now awake and alert for longer stretches of time, but he isn’t mobile or verbal so he can’t really entertain himself. He can get his fingers in his mouth and that’s about it. I remember when my first baby hit this stage and I sat there looking at her, stumped. I mean, what do you do with a baby this age anyway??
Now, 5 years later, I’ve got plenty of little baby activities up my sleeve. My baby gets up from a nap, I change his diaper, he eats and then he is READY for action. I now have a little circuit of things to do with him to keep that bored/whiney noise at bay.
1. Tummy Time.
Not all babies are a huge fan of tummy time, but it really is important for their gross motor (large muscle) development so you’ve got to try to make it happen a few times a day for a baby this age. My baby likes it, but not when he is tired so we’ll often do tummy play not long after he has woken up and is full of energy.
2. Sitting Up Play.
Get out that Boppy Pillow you use for feedings and prop it up around your baby so he can practice his trunk control. This is when my big kids get excited to show the baby more interesting toys, like Cora the Smart Cub by VTech. The baby likes how this toy lights up and plays music. I also got to program it with his name and the date, and it blew the big kids’ minds! He would stare at this thing all day…except he gets tired pretty fast from sitting up so then we move on to the next activity!
3. Bouncy Chair.
By now my baby seems to want a little break from the physical play and so I might plop him in his favorite bouncy chair and hand him a teething toy. This is also usually when I pee, fix a sibling snack, etc. He is happy to watch us all zip around the room while simultaneously working on his fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination by getting that toy where he wants it–in his mouth!
4. Mirror Play.
When he gets fussy in the bouncy chair, I might take him to the mirror in his room to check out his reflection. My baby thinks it’s hilarious to look at himself in the mirror, only I know from the Mirror Test that he doesn’t actually know he is looking at himself — he thinks he is seeing a playmate in the mirror. Give it a try!
5. Finger Play.
When he is bored of the mirror play I usually throw a blanket on the floor and do some finger play with him. I don’t sing anything fancy, and he doesn’t seem to mind. He’s in it for the eye-to-eye contact, the snuggles and the bonding. His favorites are Itsy Bitsy Spider, Humpty Dumpty, and a baby version of What Does the Fox Say? No, I’m not kidding!
6. Book Play.
Usually our last playtime activity before nap is story time. I have a variety of simple, colorful board books and I like to flip through a few while he snuggles in and relaxes before bedtime.
After all this activity he is usually wiped out and takes a good nap. Happy playing!