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Blog: The 4-month-old baby

The changes newborn babies go through as they develop and grow

by Belinda Chambers

An image of a 4 month old baby laying on a rug with his hands in the air

I was smug. I had got this baby thing ‘right’. We’d got past the 12-week milestone and all the challenges they’d told me about were about to pass. I was a GREAT mother, A+ for me, hashtag winning!

They’d told me that babies cry and are fussy the most between 2 to 12 weeks and peak at 6 weeks, so surely we were on the download slope and my baby would soon be calm all the time. They’d told me that breastfeeding would be established around 12 weeks. I had plenty of milk so surely my supply would soon start to regulate and the hurdles I was facing would disappear and it would be smooth sailing from now on. They’d told me that baby’s sleep would start to stretch out and regulate to longer night-time stretches and, well, my baby slept! We’d have sleep stretches of 6 to 8 hours most nights, so I had conquered this early phase too.

As a first-time mum, I had read the books, trawled the internet for information, listened to all the experts, including those in my social and family circles, those professionals who we visited and those personalities I tuned into across social media. I had taken it all in and I had cracked the newborn baby code!

I compared myself to the stories other mums told me of their parenting journeys and I mentally checked my baby against the babies of the same age at our new parents’ group and patted myself on the back for how well we were doing at avoiding the pitfalls those other babies had gone through.

I was smug and I was in for a big let-down (excuse the pun!). My expectations for how smooth things were about to become were misplaced. My baby hit 4 months and suddenly everything went wrong!

From the week after he turned 4 months, he never slept through again (and 7 years later still doesn’t sleep all night straight through). I worried about this and, in time, learned that it is very common for babies to wake in the night for the first year or two as they develop and grow.

My breasts went soft and stopped getting engorged when my baby was due for a feed. I doubted my supply and thought I was starting to run out of milk, especially that I was empty in the evenings. I worried about this and, in time, learned that my body was adjusting to producing milk and had regulated to produce the milk that my baby needed for the day. I also learned that my breasts are never empty, no matter how drained they feel.

My baby continued to have fussy times. He cluster fed at night or days when he was just a bit off and didn’t turn into a happy, calm child at all times. I worried about this and, in time, learned that all babies have up and down periods (and again, my 7-year-old still does in for the age and stage he is in). I learned to manage those times and go with the flow of what was happening with my little one.

I learned that I either didn’t listen to the things ‘they’ had told me fully. I suspect I was just picking out the bits I wanted to hear to form the magic recipe of raising babies or I was listening to people who actually didn’t have a great background or evidence-base to be an authority in this space.

I learned that comparing myself to others wasn’t helpful. Every baby is individual and their growth and development and personality is different. I learned that even within a family the experiences raising each child is not the same as every mother-baby dyad is unique.

I found myself relying more and more on my local ABA group for support as I faced 4 months and the ages and stages after that. I couldn’t wait for each ABA catch-up to hang out, have a cuppa and share my worries and learn from the stories and experiences of the mums and grandmas that were becoming my mum-friends.

I learned a lot in the weeks and months after my baby turned 4 months old, as I had right from when he was born, and still do today. I still worry as every mum does. I have mostly learned that there was no ‘getting it right’ and, believe it or not, I learned that no awards or grades were given out for being a mum. We are all GREAT mums and doing the best job we can in whatever age and stage we are in.

Belinda Chambers is an Australian Breastfeeding Association breastfeeding counsellor from the Geelong area, and mother of two boys. She loves being there to support mums and families in the times that they need it. Belinda enjoys telling stories and creating evidenced-based information resources such as the Breastfeeding … with ABA podcast and blog.


More information

Companion podcast episode

You have finally entered into the world of a 4-month-old baby. You have exited the land of newborn and its unpredictability and your newest destination is the stability of an older baby, an infant who must by now have a more predictable schedule who sleeps all night. Or so you thought! Laura, Jacquie and Naomi talk about the challenges and delights of this age, and Jacquie shares her experience with her recent experience with her own baby.

Listen here

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