Your 19 Week Old Baby
Your 19 week old baby is dealing with some big development right now, and you are both likely to be feeling stressed by it.
It's hard to see your baby unhappy and feel there is nothing you can do to help. Whether it's a developmental leap, teething, minor illness or even just bad nappy rash – there are many stages in the first year when your baby is miserable and unhappy.
It helps to know you are not always able to stop the cause of your baby’s fussiness or distress – some things just need to pass on their own time, and your role is to soothe. Others will always have an opinion about what you should – or shouldn’t – be doing when caring for and raising your baby. It is hard receiving so much advice at times, when all you would really like is some support.
Looking after yourself is even more important during these challenging stages, and it is okay to give yourself permission to focus on what is most important right now.
Wonder Week – Leap Four
If your baby was born on her due date, around 19 weeks she will experience the fourth Wonder Week.
Wonder Weeks are typically accompanied by the three Cs – clinginess, crankiness and crying, and this one is no exception. In fact, this leap and those which follow last much longer than those earlier. Most families find leap five especially demanding. It can last as long as five weeks, and coincides with a particularly frustrating time for your baby, whose determination to move has not yet matched by her ability.
Feeding Your 19 Week Old Baby
Your breastfed baby continues to be distracted and fuss at feed times, with increasing night feeds often becoming more effective than those during the day. Seeking the breast for comfort is natural for your baby, and your 19 week old baby might seek frequent breastfeeds but often not be able to settle and focus to feed, leading to further frustration. This does not mean you have a low milk supply or that she needs to start solids. If she is overstimulated or overwhelmed by what is going on, she finds it harder to feed.
There may be times where you need to soothe and settle your 19 week old baby to sleep, or close to it, before she relaxes enough to attach and feed well. Often breastfed babies seem to be going through breast refusal during the day, yet feed contentedly during the night.
Sometimes you can get around this daytime refusal by recreating the nighttime feeding environment: lying down with your baby in your darkened bedroom (if that's how you normally feed her) can lead her to attach and feed during the day. This stage – though inconvenient and frustrating – is usually temporary and short term, especially if you don’t force the issue. Some babies will attach if you walk around with them near your bare breast or take a relaxing bath together.
Rest assured, as long as she is given free access to the breast day and night, she will compensate for missed day feeds during the night and still get her typical daily intake over the 24 hours. If your breasts become full or uncomfortable, expressing can relieve the pressure, and also provide some expressed breastmilk for feeds where you need to be out of the house or in distracting environments during this stage.
Sleep and Settling
The rapid brain development at this time continues to disturb your 19 week old baby’s sleep, and will do so for several weeks to come. Cosleeping with your baby’s bed in your bedroom or safe bed sharing will make it easier for you to manage the unsettledness which can accompany this night waking. It can also help you notice to your baby’s feeding cues quickly, so she doesn’t become more distressed.
It's not uncommon for a bed sharing baby to stay attached or close to the breast most of the night, which can make for some disturbed sleep if you cannot get comfortable. It can help to place some supportive pillows behind your own back and between your knees. If frequent night waking is disturbing your partner’s sleep to the extent that it might impact on their driving or workplace safety, then arranging a temporary bed for them in another room might be necessary.
Your formula fed baby will also likely be waking more often during the night at this time. While occasional extra feeds might help during rapid growth, too much extra formula is not recommended, so alternate settling techniques are needed. If you haven’t previously introduced a dummy or pacifier, you might be considering it now. Sucking helps all babies to relax and become calm and sleepy. One problem with a pacifier at this age is babies are too young to put it back into their mouth, and may wake when it falls out. It is not safe to secure the dummy in any way to prevent this, so you can expect to be woken to replace it during the night. Try to limit use of the pacifier to sleep times only, to reduce its impact on your baby’s important oral exploration with toys and other objects at this age.
Play and Development
Many 19 week old babies will be able to sit while supported for a short time. This gives your baby a whole new perspective on the world and you will find sitting her on your lap means more engagement during games and story time. You might be tempted to purchase upright seats or other products to seat your baby for longer periods. However, some experts have concerns about the use of upright seats and similar aids which place baby in positions they are not yet developmentally ready to do on their own.
Ideally, your 19 week old baby should spend most of her time on her back or tummy on the floor, while she works through the stages of learning to roll. Crawling will soon follow, then your baby will learn to get herself into a seated position, usually around 8-10 months of age. The development of her central nervous system progresses downward with each developmental stage, building on the one to follow. Supported sitting on your lap or the floor for short periods is not, in itself, harmful. But products like the Bumbo prop your baby into a forced sitting position, tilting their pelvis and creating an unnatural posture. If you decide to use these types of products, always do so under close supervision, never place the baby in them on a raised surface and limit their use to short periods only. Consult your doctor, chiropractor or physiotherapist for more information.
Your 19 week old baby will build upon her hand-mouth play with objects and begin to try hand to hand as well. Once she can securely grasp a rattle or other toy in her hand, she next learns how to release it into the other hand. This simple act, which we do multiple times per day without thinking, is complex and an important challenge for her developing brain. Right now, grasping is what she does best – letting go is yet to come! Grasping will be important when she begins holding food to feed herself in the second six months but, for now, it is just fun! Offer her lots of different items to hold , from rattles and small building blocks, to suitable kitchen implements etc. But remember – everything she holds will go straight into her mouth!
Although most breastfed babies go through a period of distracted feeding or temporary breast refusal during this stage, for others, an increase in comfort feeding gets them through a challenging developmental period. Comfort feeding is often dismissed or frowned upon by those around you, who don’t necessarily understand that breastfeeding is about more than food and hunger. Find out more in our article, Comfort Feeding – 5 Reasons Why It’s Great For Mamas And Babies.