• The Complete Guidelines
  • Tip Sheet

4 to 8 MONTHS

Infants four to eight months old are becoming more alert and mobile. They learn about their world through their senses and emerging physical skills. Babies at this age are gaining muscle strength and may achieve a series of physical milestones, including head control and sitting up, which is later followed by creeping or crawling. They explore objects with their mouth and by kicking, reaching, grasping, pulling, and letting go. They delight in discovering new skills and may become deeply engrossed in practicing a newly discovered skill repeatedly. Young infants are skillful at attracting and holding the attention of those around them. They 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.

For some specific examples of these indicators within each domain and what you can do to support children, visit the parents & caregivers section for 4-8 months.

Download the Guidelines for children 4-8 months for complete descriptions of specific behaviors and suggested supports.

  • Perceptual Development: The developing ability to become aware of the social and physical environment through the senses.
  • Use the senses to explore objects and people in the environment.
  • Gross Motor: The developing ability to move the large muscles.
  • Maintain their posture in a sitting position and shift between sitting and other positions.
  • Demonstrate control of head and neck.
  • Fine Motor: The developing ability to move the small muscles.
  • Easily reach for and grasp things.
  • Use eyes and hands to explore objects actively.
  • Health: Maintenance of healthy growth and participation in physical activity.
  • Maintain growth.
  • Engage in physical activity and movement.
  • Develop sleep routines and cycles.
  • Interaction with Adults: The developing ability to respond to and engage with adults.
  • Purposefully engage in reciprocal interactions and try to influence the behavior of others.
  • May be both interested in and cautious of unfamiliar adults.
  • Interaction with Peers: The developing ability to respond to and engage with other children.
  • Show interest in familiar and unfamiliar peers by staring at another child, exploring another child's face and body, or responding to siblings and older peers.
  • Relationship with Peers: The development of relationships with certain peers through interactions over time.
  • Show interest in familiar and unfamiliar children.
  • Empathy: The developing ability to share in the emotional experiences of others.
  • Demonstrate awareness of others' feelings by reacting to their emotional expressions.
  • Social Understanding: The developing understanding of the responses, communication, emotional expressions, and actions of other people.
  • Know what to expect from familiar people.
  • Understand what to do to get another's attention.
  • Engage in back-and-forth interactions with others.
  • Imitate the simple actions or facial expressions of others.
  • Relationships with Adults: The development of close relationships with certain adults who provide consistent nurturance.
  • Seek a special relationship with one (or a few) familiar adult(s) by initiating interactions and seeking proximity, especially when distressed.
  • Identity of Self in Relation to Others: The developing concept that the child is an individual operating with social relationships.
  • Show clear awareness of being a separate person and of being connected with other people.
  • Identify others as both distinct from and connected to themselves.
  • Recognition of Ability: The developing understanding that the child can take action to influence the environment.
  • Understand that they are able to make things happen.
  • Expression of Emotion: The developing ability to express a variety of feelings through facial expressions, movements, gestures, sounds, or words.
  • Express a variety of primary emotions such as contentment, distress, joy, sadness, interest, surprise, disgust, anger, and fear.
  • Emotion Regulation: The developing ability to manage emotional responses, with assistance from others and independently.
  • Use simple behaviors to comfort themselves and begin to communicate the need for help to alleviate discomfort or distress.
  • Impulse Control: The developing ability to wait for needs to be met, to inhibit potentially hurtful behavior, and to act according to social expectations, including safety rules.
  • Act on impulses.
  • Receptive Language: The developing ability to understand words and increasingly complex utterances.
  • Show understanding of a small number of familiar words and react to adult's overall tone of voice.
  • Expressive Language: The developing ability to produce the sounds of language and use vocabulary and increasingly complex utterances.
  • Experiment with sounds, practice making sounds, and use sounds or gestures to communicate needs, wants, or interests.
  • Communication Skills and Knowledge: The developing ability to communicate nonverbally and verbally.
  • Participate in back-and-forth communication and games.
  • Interest in Print: The developing interest in engaging with print in books and the environment.
  • Explore books and show interest in adult-initiated literacy activities, such as looking at photos and exploring books together with an adult.
  • Cause-and-Effect: The developing understanding that one event brings about another.
  • Perform simple actions to make things happen, notice the relationships between events, and notice the effects of others on the immediate environment.
  • Spatial Relationships: The developing understanding of how things move and fit in space.
  • Move their bodies, explore the size and shape of objects, and observe people and objects as they move through space.
  • Imitation: The developing ability to mirror, repeat, and practice the actions of others, either immediately or later.
  • Imitate simple actions and expressions of others during interactions.
  • Number Sense: The developing understanding of number and quantity.
  • Focus on one object or person at a time, yet at times they may hold two objects, one in each hand.
  • Classification: The developing ability to group, sort, categorize, connect, and have expectations of objects and people according to their attributes.
  • Distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar people, places, and objects, and explore the differences between them.
  • Symbolic Play: The developing ability to use actions, objects, or ideas to represent other actions, objects, or ideas.
  • Use active exploration to become familiar with objects and actions.
  • Build knowledge of people, actions, objects, and ideas through observation.
  • Routines: The developing ability to understand and participate in personal care and sleep routines.
  • Is responsive during the steps of personal care routines.
  • Develops sleep routines and cycles.
  • Problem Solving: The developing ability to engage in a purposeful effort to reach a goal or figure out how something works.
  • Use simple actions to try to solve problems involving objects, their bodies, or other people.
  • Memory: The developing ability to store and later retrieve information about past experiences.
  • Recognize familiar people, objects, and routines in the environment and show awareness that familiar people still exist even when they are no longer physically present.
  • Attention Maintenance: The developing ability to attend to people and things while interacting with others and exploring the environment and play materials.
  • Pay attention to different things and people in the environment in specific, distinct ways.
 

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.