Your 17 week old baby is likely to want to chew on anything she can get her hands on.
At just over 4 months old, your little one is probably reaching for your food, as she is now keen to try the different textures. Everything goes straight to the mouth.
If you’re curious about what most babies are doing at baby week 17, read on.
Your 17 week old baby – growth
There’s a lot going on in the life of your little one, and she doesn’t want to miss a moment of it.
While she watches with wonder at the sights and sounds of everyday life, your baby’s growth, in her brain, is undergoing huge development to prepare her for everything to come in her second half-year.
From wiring up the brain pathways that will one day guide her first steps, to processing the sounds you make as she gets ready for talking, the background activity is complex and, at times, overwhelming.
As her central nervous system continues to develop, from the top down and the inside out, your 17 week old baby’s social development also continues to bloom.
She loves to meet new people and experience new things – as long as you are still close by. As well as being a challenging age, this is also a time of great enjoyment, as your baby shows you the world through her brand new eyes.
Baby weight week 17
As little individuals, babies gain weight at their own pace. On average, girls weigh about 6.4kg (14.2 pounds) and are 24.4 inches (61cm) in length. Boys might average about 6.9kg (15.4 pounds) and 64cm (25.2 inches) in length. New parents can check in with a medical professional if they notice any unusual weight gain or loss as their baby develops.
Baby development at 17 weeks
Your 17 week old baby is probably holding toys tightly in her hand now and bringing them to her mouth. She will also spend time with her fingers and thumbs in her mouth.
Many babies suck their hands from around 16 weeks gestation in the womb, and they work hard in the early weeks of life to gain muscle development to guide them back to their mouths. As well as being soothing, sucking and mouthing are very important for babies; they learn by doing this.
It will be a few months yet before your baby can pick up a toy or other item, turn it, poke it and feel it with her fingers. But at 17 weeks, her mouth, tongue, and lips can learn a lot about the things they touch. Our mouths have more nerve endings per square inch than any other part of the body.
When babies suck their thumbs in childhood, it’s part of a totally normal developmental stage. It’s part of learning and exploring and there’s no cause for you to worry.
This developmental stage is annoying at times, but a normal part of the ‘four month monsters’.
Your 17 week old baby has learned to take in everything going on around her but she is yet to develop the ability to screen it out when she needs to. This skill will develop at about six months, when she will be able to work out what is important and what is safe to ignore.
Now that your baby is spending more time awake during the day, playtime becomes an important part of her routine, as does language development. She will start pulling funny faces in response to you.
Teething baby at 17 weeks
Baby’s first teeth usually arrive at about the 6-month mark. As little individuals, babies can start teething at any time from 3 months onwards. Keep an eye out for any signs.
Signs or symptoms of teething include:
- Excessive drooling
- Being unsettled or fussy
- Red cheeks or rash
- Sore red gums
- Loss of appetite.
Tummy time at 17 weeks
Although enjoying tummy time and practicing rolling will take up a lot of her time, simple games will begin to appeal to your baby.
Tummy time is important for head control and baby’s general development and is a fun time for her to explore. Time on the tummy will help reduce flat head syndrome, caused by being constantly on the back in one position.
Feeding your 17 week old baby
Your 17 week old baby is really taking in everything that goes on around her right now – especially during feed times.
Regardless of whether it’s from the breast or the bottle, staying focused on feeding is hard work when there are other more interesting things to watch and hear. For example, she’ll be fascinated by the way the sun breaks through the blinds or the sound of the dog barking outside.
You’ll probably find feeds are constantly interrupted, or even abandoned when there is any stimulation around you.
The conflict between wanting to feed and wanting to observe can make your 17 week old baby cranky, and can result in both of you becoming frustrated. Going out becomes a matter of finding a quiet space to feed or settle a grumpy baby.
In the meantime, you can expect increased night feeds, where the calming darkness will allow her to relax and feed without distraction. Your breasts will adapt to these changes, although you might experience some fullness or discomfort if too many daytime feeds are interrupted.
Find somewhere you can retreat to for feeds; it can help to sit with your baby while facing a dull corner, with no distractions. Playing a white noise app on your mobile device can disguise other interesting sounds.
Your bottle-fed baby will probably feed better if you sit her upright, facing away from your body, so she can see what is going on. Be careful to avoid overstimulation, though; you might still need to retreat to a quiet place if she continues to be distracted.
Solid foods can wait. Your baby gets all the nutrients she needs from the breast or bottle at this stage. Although well-meaning family and friends will tell you she is teething or she needs solids, the reason your baby is putting everything in her mouth is simply her way of doing research. It also gives her pleasure and can help her feel calm and relaxed.
Sleeping and settling
Feed times are particularly challenging, but you will find getting your baby to sleep can also become more difficult.
You might start to value junk sleep, which is when your baby finally falls asleep wherever she is. Rest assured (pardon the pun), sleep is sleep, and your baby doesn’t need to be tucked up in her cot for it to count as ‘real’ sleep.
Babywearing can help settle your 17 week old baby, especially if you move to a quieter space to settle her. Turn off any devices that emit sound or movement while you are helping her fall asleep, or go to another room. Gentle, rhythmic music or white noise might capture her attention and focus, allowing her to relax and listen.
You might also need to close the blinds during daylight hours, to obscure the outside view and dim the room.
You might find your 17 week old baby in some unusual positions when she wakes in her cot. Practising rolling is common during sleep, and she might wake when she finds herself in an uncomfortable spot.
If you’re still swaddling her, this is definitely a sign to move her to a sleeping bag instead. No matter how firmly you wrap her, a 17 week old baby can still wriggle and squirm to get her arms out or roll. She will be safer in a sleeping bag and still able to move as she needs to.
Avoid placing any extra blankets on your baby, as her movements might lead to her head becoming covered.
Baby carrier vs baby sling – 17 week baby
When 17 week old babies take an interest in what’s going on around them, it’s common for parents to wonder whether they should use a baby carrier that allows babies to face outwards (forward facing) and watch the world around them.
There are things you should know before using such a carrier.
One leading brand recommends only using its forward facing option for about 10-15 minutes at a time. The reason for this restriction comes back to the same problem you might be having with feeding or sleeping: overstimulation.
When your baby is facing away from you, it’s hard to read her feedback; all the noise and movement might be too much. Although she loves to see everything at the market, the shopping mall or the event you’re attending, a little goes a long way. She needs to be able to turn away to process everything before it all becomes too much.
A forward facing carrier doesn’t allow her to turn away or tune out.
For more information, you can read 6 reasons to avoid forward facing baby carriers.
Another option is a ring sling. It allows baby a near-360 degree view but also lets her maintain eye contact with you and allows her to turn away when needed. Wearing your 17 week old baby on your hip is easier than holding her and will also make it easy for you to do household tasks while she watches.
Find out more in our article Choosing a Baby Carrier Or Sling – 7 Styles to Choose From.