Frequently Asked Questions: 4 Months

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Frequently Asked Questions: 4 Months

Guiding Your Child Through The Infant Year
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions: 4 Months
Frequently Asked Questions: 4 Months
Find answers to common questions about 4-month-olds.
InteliHealth Medical Content
Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

Frequently Asked Questions: 4 Months

When can I introduce solid foods?

Ask your baby's pediatrician for her specific recommendations, as solid foods are usually not introduced before 4 to 6 months of age, at the earliest. Most babies do not need any solid foods before this age because breast milk or iron-fortified infant formula provides all the nutrients the baby needs. After 6 months of age, a baby requires more foods to provide more calories, protein, and iron. Around that time, he will begin to show interest in other foods and develop the ability to eat them.

The introduction of solid foods before 4 to 6 months may not provide the proper balance of nutrients. Despite popular belief, adding cereal to the diet does not help babies sleep through the night.

Each child develops at his own pace. Signs that your baby may be ready to try solid foods include: holding her head and neck steady for 10 to 15 minutes while sitting up with support in your lap or in an infant seat; putting his hands or other objects in mouth; acting hungry, demanding breast or bottle more often, or taking more than 32 ounces (one quart) of formula in 24 hours. You may also notice your baby showing interest in your food and trying to grab your food while watching you eat, and waking more often during the night when he had been sleeping through much of the night for a while.

For more information see introducing solids.

Should I put cereal in the bottle to help my baby sleep through the night?

Cereal does not usually need to be put in your baby's bottle unless your baby's doctor specifically suggests it. Despite popular belief, adding cereal or other solid foods to your baby's diet will not help your baby sleep through the night. Your baby may have a hard time learning to eat from a spoon, if she gets used to taking solid foods in a bottle.

When will my baby sleep through the night?

Although newborns sleep approximately 16 hours each day, they do awaken often to feed. Each time they sleep lasts as long as four hours or so, but the longest time may not always occur at night. Parents are understandably anxious for their infants to sleep for long periods, particularly at night, so that they can get some uninterrupted sleep, too.

Fortunately, by age 4 months, most babies can sleep as long as 6 to 8 hours at night, without the need for feedings, rocking or other interventions; by age 6 months, they can sleep as much as 10 to 12 hours.

There are some things you can do to help your baby learn to sleep through the night and to prevent later sleep problems. Put her to bed when she is drowsy but still awake. Keep middle-of-the-night feedings brief and boring, with dim lights and no talking or playing. Minimize nighttime diaper changes and make these quiet and boring, too. Establishing good sleep habits early with your baby can help everyone in the family to be well rested.


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Last updated February 11, 2011

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