Your 20 Week Old Baby
Your 20 week old baby is five months old – woah!
He is still in Leap 4 of the Wonder Weeks, so you can expect him to be clingy, cranky and crying. You'll also be seeing changed sleeping and feeding patterns for the whole of this month.
At the same time, your 20 week old baby is enjoying the sound of his own voice almost as much as you are. He will be making a range of simple sounds now, and will delight in your response as you mimic him or introduce sounds of your own. He will love to hear you sing simple songs and play games like peekaboo, which help him learn about “object permanence” – the key to reducing separation anxiety, which is common at this stage.
As long as you stay close by, your 20 week old baby will love to meet other babies and adults and interact with them as well. He is a social being who can become bored easily, so look out for opportunities for him to meet other people and experience new things.
Feeding Your 20 Week Old Baby
Over the next four weeks, you will see increasing signs of your baby being developmentally ready to begin solids. The recommendation of “around six months” takes into consideration the normal variation between babies reaching the milestones recognised as important for taking this next step. Your 20 week old baby will likely reach these in the next eight weeks. There is no need to rush or be concerned if he is ready a little before or after 24-26 weeks of age.
Introducing solids can feel like an event or milestone, but often happens spontaneously and without planning when a baby reaches out and helps himself from his parent’s plate! Unless the food is especially unsuitable for a baby (only whole nuts and honey are not recommended before 12 months, however fast foods, cakes and desserts are probably not ideal first foods!), you can allow him to explore his stolen treasure, mouthing it as he does other things he grasps in his hands.
You might find you are handing your baby finger-sized pieces of meat, fruit, vegetables or other family foods at mealtimes for him to suck and play with, before he actually begins consuming them. This is part of the natural process of baby-led weaning and is typical, especially of babies who share mealtimes with the family.
Your breastfed or formula fed baby is probably still easily distracted at feed times, needing quiet space to feed effectively during the day. This should gradually improve over the coming weeks, with most babies developing the ability to screen out distractions by around six months. Of course, some babies will always be hyper-aware of what is going on around them, and will interrupt feeds to check out what's going on. This developmental distraction does ease in the second half-year.
Sleep And Settling
Your 20 week old baby is probably now rolling from tummy to back and tummy to side, with rolling from back to tummy typically happening between 5.5 and 7.5 months. This means he is likely moving around a lot in his sleep, practising his mobility, and getting into awkward positions he may need rescuing from.
Once your baby can move himself from back to tummy, in the coming weeks, he will also do that in his sleep – making it much harder to follow the “back to sleep” SIDS guidelines. Some parents worry they need to wake regularly during the night to return their baby to the back position, however it is generally accepted that once your healthy baby can move himself into such a position, he can also move himself out of it if needed.
Continue to follow the remaining guidelines, especially regarding bedding, bumpers and toys in his cot – they can become a danger when a mobile baby comes up against them in his sleep. Choose a sleeping bag instead sheets and blankets, and cease swaddling once your baby begins rolling. Once able to get onto his tummy, he will soon be preparing his body for crawling – the next big step in his mobile development.
Play And Development
Your 20 week old baby may have already popped a first tooth, which typically appear between 4 and 7 months of age. Baby teeth, or primary or milk teeth, often arrive in a typical order — though not all babies follow this pattern and it isn’t a problem if they don’t. The first two to appear will usually be the two central bottom teeth. These smallest and simplest of all teeth tend to arrive after a short period of signs and symptoms we refer to as “teething”, although sometimes they pop through with no sign they were coming!
Teething is an ongoing process which takes place over a period of two years – and that's just the temporary ‘baby teeth'! Typical teething order sees the individual teeth becoming larger and more complex, through until the two year old molars, which slowly emerge in the third year of life. The movement of erupting teeth as they come up through the gum tissue and ‘cut' through the gum line (which actually splits naturally, rather than being cut by the tooth) usually creates discomfort and some degree of pain during the acute stage. However, the process occurs over a longer period, when you might not be aware your baby is teething.
Debate rages between doctors, who say babies do not show symptoms such as fever while teething, and parents, who see signs such as red cheeks, increased dribbling, running noses and high temperatures as physical signs teeth are erupting. Find out more in our article about Teething Symptoms.
It's important not to automatically assume teething is responsible for your 20 week old baby’s discomfort or distress. Babies with high temperatures or fevers in particular should be checked by your doctor to rule out hidden illness such as urinary tract, ear or throat infections or other issues which can be hard to pick up.
It's also worth keeping in mind that teething occurs over a long period of time, and will therefore coincide with most of the developmental stages of 4-12 months and beyond. Before assuming it's teething, check if your baby is experiencing a Wonder Week or physical growth or developmental spurt, which might be disturbing sleep or feeding patterns.
During these developmental leaps, you might find your breastfed baby increases night feeds to a point where his newborn days seemed easier! You are probably wondering: My Baby Wants To Breastfeed All Night – Is It Normal?