Your 23 Week Old Baby
As your baby comes out of Leap 5, you have a few settled weeks ahead before his next Wonder Week arrives at 26 weeks.
Your 23 week old baby may become more settled and you can begin to fall into his new rhythm.
He will be moving a lot more now – rolling gives him mobility, and he might be practising his pre-crawling skills or even showing signs of moving in a forward – or backward – direction when on his tummy.
He will be sitting more upright now, and will enjoy being at the table in his highchair at mealtimes, regardless of whether he has started solids yet.
His grasp is improving in readiness to hold foods himself, and his tongue reflex will have all but disappeared. You will notice lots of drooling and dribbling as increased saliva production occurs for eating solids. You may also notice it still spills out of his mouth when he smiles!
It will be a while until he has the muscle tone to hold and swallow saliva, rather than let it dribble out of his mouth.
Feeding Your 23 Week Old Baby
Around six months, most babies are developmentally ready for eating solid foods.
If you intend to use the Baby-Led Weaning approach, sometime in the next few weeks your baby will be keen to grasp food and bring it to his mouth. Even if you have already started solids using purees, you can watch for this readiness and introduce finger foods into your baby’s diet. Learn more about the types of foods which are easy for your baby to hold in our article 10 First Foods To Try When Baby Led Weaning.
When you introduce solids, it's important that milk remains the primary food in his diet. Whether you are breastfeeding, mixed feeding or formula feeding, it will be some time before your baby gets complete nutrition from solids. Giving his milk feed before a solid meal will ensure he satisfies his appetite with that.
It's normal for babies to take a while to actually digest foods other than milk, so don’t be surprised if his bowel movements remain unchanged after you begin baby-led weaning. The process of bringing food to the mouth, biting, chewing and swallowing are complex skills which take practice – another reason why milk should continue to the be the main food source.
The first sign your baby has actually swallowed something might be the food's appearance, relatively unchanged – in his nappy! Don’t worry if bits of undigested fruit or vegetables arrive this way. As your baby learns to use his strong gums to chew, the food will break down more, and his system will be able to digest it.
A baby who is fed purees is not able to practice these skills, as the food requires no biting or chewing, so you will find his bowel motions change colour and texture as soon as solids begin.
Sleeping and Settling
Your 23 week old baby is probably still waking several times a night for breastfeeds, or to have a bottle, or needing his dummy put back in his mouth. You might be feeling pressure to teach him to self-settle, and might even be told he should be sleeping through the night by six months.
It's very normal for babies in the first year to wake regularly (in fact, studies show this continues to be normal into the second year) with 78% of babies aged 6-12 months still regularly waking at least once in the night. And 61% of babies have at least one milk feed during the night. Read about why nighttime breastfeeding is so important.
Your busy baby might wake after one sleep cycle (around 40 minutes) during the day and not be interested in resettling. This can be frustrating, especially if he is also waking frequently at night. While some babies need solid blocks of sleep lasting two or three hours or more, many others cat-nap and still thrive.
It’s hard not to compare your baby with others in your mother’s group, but if your baby is happy, healthy and satisfied by the amount of sleep he gets over the 24-hour period, then you can be confident he just doesn’t need as much sleep as others. Just as some adults need much less than the typical eight hours and others need more. Your baby will sleep when he needs to – quite likely wherever he happens to be at the time!
Learn more about how daytime naps still count when your baby isn’t in his cot – Does Your Baby Junk Sleep? 4 Surprising Facts About Baby Sleep.
Play and Development
If your 23 week old baby has begun moving by shuffling along on his bottom, you might be told by his doctor, nurse or other advisors that you should be encouraging crawling.
Babies who sit early often become “bottom shufflers” and soon learn how to move around this way, often quite quickly. Parents tend to put these babies in a sitting position to play, rather than on their tummy or back. It is common for these babies to have disliked tummy time and to have shown an early preference for being held upright.
Traditional crawling is recognised as developmentally important as it requires what is known as “crossing the midline”. When a baby crawls on his hands and knees, both the left and right sides of the brain are involved, and this is important for learning and development. If your baby shows a preference for sitting and bottom shuffling, it is important to still give him plenty of time to roll and encourage crawling with games and activities. While you cannot make a baby crawl, you can give him every opportunity to do so by limiting time in strollers, high-chairs, swings and seats and continuing to place him on his tummy on the floor as much as you can.
Your 23 week old baby will be fascinated by new experiences and you can incorporate these into his playtime. Think about activities which stimulate all his senses – blowing bubbles for him to watch, playing peekaboo, simple songs and rhymes like “This Little Piggy Went To Market”, tickling, and sharing books together. As he spends more time awake each day, playtime will become increasingly important, and you will enjoy introducing new games and activities as his development progresses.
Recommended Reading: Crawling is a significant stage of a baby's development. But when will it happen and what can you do to encourage your baby? Find out in our article When Do Babies Crawl? 7 Tips To Get Crawling.