Your 22 Week Old Baby
As your 22 week old baby continues through the evolution which occurs at around 4-6 months, you will see lots of big changes – and a few little ones too.
Still in Leap Five, your 22 week old baby has moments when he seems inconsolable, yet others when he is just a bundle of giggles and happiness.
It’s hard to see these big mood swings, leaving you wondering if you’re doing something wrong when you hold your clingy baby, who will only settle in your arms and will not go to anyone without tears.
You might feel frustrated when every person you seek advice from shrugs their shoulders apologetically and blames a “stage” but it really is true that most of what your baby is going through right now is due to development. Riding through the storm is all you can do.
Feeding Your 22 Week Old Baby
Your 22 week old baby might be seeking extra feeds, and you might wonder if this means he needs solids. It is normal for babies to seem hungry when they are growing rapidly, and it’s important that milk continues to be the primary food in his diet.
Formula and breastmilk have the right balance of nutrients he needs, as he builds brain cells to direct his body to move, and builds the muscles he needs for them to do so. Early solids cannot replace that, and just take up space in his tummy that should be filled with milk.
A breastfed baby will adjust his intake as needed, feeding more often during times of rapid growth. In the past, it was assumed these periods of increased feeding were to boost the milk supply, accommodating his changing needs. However, research has shown a baby’s overall intake per 24 hours varies little between one month and six months.
Instead of gradually increasing as the baby gets bigger, we now know that exclusively breastfed babies take an average of 700-800ml each day at least until they begin reliably eating solids. By contrast, a formula fed baby is given around 2 1⁄2 ounces (75 ml) of formula a day for every pound (453 grams) of body weight, with an upper limit of no more than 32 ounces (960 ml) of formula in 24 hours.
So why do formula fed babies get a steadily increasing volume of milk according to their weight while breastfed babies do not? One large study compared feeding volumes in formula-fed and breastfed babies and found that the formula-fed babies consumed 49% more milk at one month, 57% at three months, and 71% at five months. There are probably a few reasons:
- Bottle feeding delivers milk at a steady rate throughout a feed, not changing in volume or consistency as breastmilk does. Babies tend to keep swallowing until the bottle is empty, and parents/carers often encourage them to keep feeding until the last drop is swallowed. By contrast, a breastfed baby has several opportunities to end the feed between milk-ejections and will usually come off as a new cycle (let down reflex) begins.
- Breastmilk is more easily processed by a baby’s digestive system, so more formula needs to be consumed to get the same level of nutrition. Formula doesn’t have the hormones such as leptin and adiponectin, which help babies’ metabolism and appetite control or the hormone cholecystokinin (CCK), which helps babies fall asleep. This means formula fed babies burn more energy sleeping than breastfed babies, and so need more fuel (milk). Find out more about what’s in breastmilk and what’s in formula, here.
The main reason though is probably not evidence-based at all: it has simply been the practice, since formula was first promoted, to calculate a baby’s need based on their weight. If you are unsure about how much to be feeding your growing formula fed 22 week old baby, check with his doctor or nurse for more advice.
Sleeping and Settling
If you baby seems determined to start crawling soon, you can look forward to more interrupted sleep at night! Researchers have found pre-crawling babies wake more frequently during the night. However, they still get around the same number of hours sleep in total. While the average age of crawling is around eight months, it can be as early as four months or as late as ten months.
Pre-crawling is a period of preparing muscles, coordinating movements and practicing techniques. Although some babies go straight to the typical hands and knees movement we think of a crawling (or creeping), others drag their body (commando-style) or find other ways to move. Some experiment with a few options before settling on one. Interestingly, a lot of that experimenting seems to be done during sleep! It’s not uncommon to find your pre or newly-crawling baby awake in a different position to how you left them in their cot, crying for your support to fall back to sleep.
It does seem that each stage of major motor development disrupts sleep, and with the steady progression of rolling, crawling, sitting, standing, walking which occurs over a period of 6-12 months, you can expect interrupted sleep for some time to come.
With the eruption of several teeth appearing during the same time frame, night time parenting can be demanding. Many parents turn to co-sleeping at this stage as a way to minimise disruption and maximise sleep for all involved.
Play and Development
Your 22 week old baby is learning a lot about communication. He can recognise your emotions from facial expressions and the tone of your voice, and can anticipate simple patterns of behaviour from the steps you take each time. He experiments with his voice, creating high tones and low, and has a series of sounds you can recognise and encourage by repeating them back to him. He listens intently when you and others speak to him (and around him) and he is learning the speak and pause pattern of conversation through his observations.
It will be some months yet before your baby begins to use the most basic of spoken vocabulary. Simple words which evolve from sounds are similar across cultures and languages – mama, dada and baba being the most common. But did you know, you don’t need to wait for verbal development to appear for your baby to begin using language for communication? Baby sign language can be learned from as early as six months, and is a fun way to play with your baby, introducing him to the world around him — as well as building language and communication skills.
Babies quickly take up the simple hand gestures which are used to sign everything from “milk” to “dog” and soon begin to use them independently. Before you begin, find out which sign language is used in your country. In Australia, Auslan (Australian Sign Language) is used, while in the US it is ASL (American Sign Language). The UK has BSL (British Sign language). Keep this in mind if you are buying or downloading resources online. You can also check out your local library for books or DVDs on the subject. Many communities also offer classes, story times or other sessions for parents to share with their babies and toddlers.
When your baby is going through these big developmental stages, you can understand their need to breastfeed more overnight. But how many feeds does that mean – and what if it just seems like one endless feed from dusk to dawn? Find out more in our article: My Baby Wants To Breastfeed All Night – Is It Normal?