At 20 weeks, your baby is now 5 months old. Where has that time gone?
Your 20 week old baby is coming on leaps and bounds, but is still in Leap 4 of the Wonder Weeks.
You can expect him to be a little clingy, cranky and crying during this time.
Related article: Wonder Weeks – How They Help You Understand Your Baby.
20 week old baby development
Your baby is changing fast but there are still plenty of growth milestones approaching.
You can also expect to see changes in sleeping at night and feeding patterns for the whole of this month.
What should a 20 week old baby be doing?
Play and development
Your 20 week old baby is enjoying the sound of his own voice almost as much as you are.
He will be practising his language skills and making a range of simple sounds now. He will delight in your response as you mimic him or introduce him to sounds of your own.
Your baby will love to hear you sing simple songs and play games such as peekaboo. Games like this will help him develop ‘object permanence’.
Object permanence means that babies begin to understand that objects (or people) still exist, even when they can’t see or hear them. This is a key step to reducing separation anxiety, which is common at this stage.
To learn more read our article Separation Anxiety in Babies | 4 Helpful Tips.
As long as you remain close, your 20 week old baby will love to meet and interact with other babies, kids and adults.
Joining a local stay and play group with other children will help your little one build and develop social skills; it will also give you the opportunity to meet other parents and enjoy some much needed adult conversation.
Having you there, and being around others, will help your baby feel more confident in exploring social situations and seeing new faces.
It is part of a baby’s general nature to be inquisitive. Babies love to see animated faces and expressions. Play fun games with your little one by making silly faces and watching his reaction.
Your baby is loving life as a social being, so look out for opportunities for him to meet other people and children and experience new things.
Find out more about boredom and your baby by reading our article Do Babies Get Bored?
Feeding your 20 week old baby
As a parent, you might be wondering when to start introducing solid foods to your baby. This process is known as weaning.
Over the next four weeks, you will see increasing signs that your baby is developmentally ready to begin eating solids.
Some of the signs babies are ready:
- They can sit up by themselves. Good head and trunk control is required to enable them to sit without support
- Increased interest in food. Reaching out for food (normally someone else’s), and being able to bring it to the mouth
- Absence of tongue-extrusion (or tongue thrust) reflex. This reflex means that when something solid or semi-solid is placed in a baby’s mouth, his tongue will push it away. This reflex needs to cease before your baby is ready for solid foods.The tongue-thrust reflex is present in newborns and remains until around 4-6 months of life. This prevents choking in the early months of a baby’s development, as his body is not yet ready to cope with solids.
Can I feed my 20 week old baby solid foods?
The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of your baby’s life, because of its proven health benefits for both mother and child.
After 6 months, for a baby’s health, he will need more than just breast milk, or infant first milk, to enable him to reach all development milestones. Your little one will need the added nutrients and vitamins from complementary foods to support his health, in addition to normal milk.
The recommendation of ‘around six months’ takes into consideration the normal variation between babies as they reach the milestones recognized as important for taking this next step.
Your 20 week old baby will probably reach these in the next eight weeks. But don’t worry, there is no need to rush or to 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 it 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 you can allow him to explore his stolen treasure, mouthing it as he does other things he grasps in his hands. Whole nuts and honey are not recommended before 12 months; fast food, cakes and desserts are not ideal first foods either.
You might try 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 and will need quiet space to feed effectively during the day. This should gradually improve over the coming weeks, as most babies develop the ability to screen out distractions by around six months.
Of course, some babies will always be hyper-aware of what is happening around them and will interrupt feeds to check out what’s going on. This developmental distraction eases in the second half-year.
Learn more in our article Baby Led Weaning – What Is It And Should I Be Doing It?
At what age do babies start rolling over?
Your 20 week old baby is now probably rolling from his belly to his back and from belly to side. Rolling from back to tummy typically happens a little later – between 5.5 and 7.5 months.
This means he is probably moving around while sleeping, practising his mobility during the night and getting into awkward positions he might need rescuing from.
Once your baby can move himself from back to belly, 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, so there’s no need for you to lose any more sleep during the night.
Learn more about the importance of safe sleep by reading our article SIDS And Safe Sleep – How Safe Is Your Baby?
20 week old baby – sleep tips
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 of sheets and blankets, and cease swaddling once your baby begins rolling. Once he’s able to get onto his tummy, he will soon be preparing his body for crawling – the next big step in his mobile development.
Related reading: 5 Sleep Options For Your Baby – Where Will Your Baby Sleep?
Can babies teeth at 5 months?
Your 20 week old baby might have already popped a first tooth, which typically appears between 4 and 7 months of age.
Baby teeth, also known as primary or milk teeth, often arrive in a typical order but not all babies follow this pattern and it isn’t a problem if they don’t.
The first teeth to appear will usually be the two central bottom teeth.
These are the smallest and simplest of all teeth and 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, until the arrival of the two year old molars, which slowly emerge in the third year of life.
Erupting teeth come up through the gum tissue and ‘cut’ through the gum line, which actually splits naturally, rather than being cut by the tooth. This movement usually creates some degree of discomfort or pain during the acute stage.
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 Teething Symptoms | 9 Signs Baby Is Teething.
It’s important not to assume automatically that teething is responsible for your 20 week old baby’s discomfort or distress.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that teething occurs over a long period of time and will therefore coincide with most of your baby’s development stages at 4-12 months and beyond.
Before assuming it’s teething, check whether your baby is experiencing a Wonder Week or a 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 it seems his newborn days were easier.
If you are wondering about this, read My Baby Wants To Breastfeed All Night – Is It Normal?
When to call your doctor
Babies with high temperatures or, especially, those with fevers should be checked over by your health visitor or doctor, to rule out hidden illnesses, such as urinary tract, ear or throat infections or other problems that can be hard to pick up.
If you’re concerned, take a deep breath. It is always better to call and speak to someone and put your mind at ease.