• Tip Sheet

4 to 8 MONTHS

Babies from 4-8 months may explore objects with their mouth and by kicking, reaching, grasping, pulling, and letting go. They delight in discovering new skills. Babies at this age can smile, laugh, coo, and reach out to engage their parents and other caregivers. They love to listen and respond to language by imitating the sounds and rhythms of what they hear.

Kids This Age May:

How You Can Help Them Develop:

  • Look at an object in their hand, mouth it, and then take it out to look at it again.
  • Expose them to a variety of sensory experiences — like sights, sounds, tastes, textures, movements, smells — both indoors and outdoors.
  • Listen to the sounds that people use while talking in the language they use at home, and use these same sounds while babbling.
  • Provide infants with both calming and exciting experiences depending on their signals.
  • Kick feet while lying in the crib, feel the crib shake, and then kick feet again.
  • Show they enjoy physically active play by repeating actions (e.g., kick, wave arms, roll over).
  • Gently turn, roll, bounce, and sway them to increase their muscle strength and help develop important connections between the brain and muscles.
  • Provide periods of unstructured movement every day, allowing the infants to move freely on the floor.
  • Hold head, roll from back to stomach and from stomach to back.
  • Sit without support.
  • Move from a sitting position onto hands and knees.
  • Provide opportunities for them to move and engage in a variety of physical activities, such as lying on a blanket on the floor in a safe area.
  • Reach for and grasp an object, using one hand.
  • Provide safe (i.e., no small parts or pieces) objects and toys and play games to encourage the infants to move and do things for themselves.
  • Give infants appropriate finger foods to eat when they are ready (e.g., dry cereal, cooked vegetables).
  • Place objects of interest just beyond their reach to encourage stretching and coordination.

Kids This Age May:

How You Can Help Them Develop:

  • Engage in playful, face-to-face interactions with an adult, such as taking turns vocalizing and then smiling or laughing.
  • Provide regular interactions with them.
  • Make eye contact with them during routine activities such as feeding, diaper changing.
  • Talk and coo during interactions with them; imitate their sounds.
  • Show interest in familiar and unfamiliar children.
  • Provide them with opportunities to be around and observe other children, including those slightly older.
  • Allow older children to talk, smile and laugh with the babies.
  • Cry when hearing another baby cry.
  • Stop playing and look at a child who is crying.
  • Talk to them about what other children are feeling or expressing with their sounds, gestures, or facial expressions.
  • Turn excitedly and raise his arms to greet a family member at pick-up time.
  • Respond consistently to them, using warm facial expressions and words.

Kids This Age May:

How You Can Help Them Develop:

  • Repeat sounds when babbling, such as "da dadada" or "babababa."
  • Respond to their cooing and babbling as if they understand everything you are saying.
  • Imitate sounds or gestures that babies make and allow time for them to imitate you.
  • Respond to a wave by waving and saying, "Bye-bye."
  • Use every day routines to play games, like waving goodbye or blowing kisses.
  • Look at pictures that a parent or caregiver points to while reading a storybook or hold a book and try to turn the pages.
  • Read to babies and provide cloth or cardboard picture books for them to hold.

Kids This Age May:

How You Can Help Them Develop:

  • Shake a toy, hear the sound it makes, and then shake it again.
  • Loudly bang a spoon on the table, notice the loud sound, and do it again.
  • Allow babies time to explore and examine objects and new things.
  • Offer toys that they can grasp and explore.
  • Shake sound toys so babies can hear and respond.
  • Respond to them, pointing out the effects of their actions on toys. For example, say, "Look how you made the ball move!"
  • Imitate a familiar gesture, such as clapping hands together or patting a doll's back, after seeing someone else do it.
  • Play with familiar toys, such as shaking a rattle or patting a soft toy, and allow time for babies to imitate your actions.

Kids This Age May:

How You Can Help Them Develop:

  • Start to remember things. For example, they may turn toward the front door when hearing the doorbell ring or toward the phone when hearing the phone ring or they may look for their parents after they briefly step out of the room.

Videos: 4 to 8 MONTHS

6 month milestone video.
Used with permission, Minnesota Department of Education.

Note: It is important to arrange for regular health and developmental exams with a health care provider. These are usually part of a well-child visit and can include vision, hearing and oral health screenings.

Questions? Concerns?

The Guidelines describe how a typical child develops but it is important to understand that each child learns and develops at his or her own individual pace. Since each child is different, caregivers should talk with a health care provider or other trusted professional about any questions or concerns. For more information about questions or concerns you may have, please contact us.