As your baby is midway through Leap 4, you have a few settled weeks ahead before his next Wonder Week arrives at 26 weeks.
Confused about what we mean by Wonder Weeks and Leaps? To learn more, read our article Wonder Weeks – How They Help You Understand Your Baby.
How many months is a 23 week old baby?
How time has flown! It will feel like a long time since you were pregnant. Your 23 week old baby is now nearly 6 months old, and it’s amazing to see so many changes in your baby’s development, as he flourishes day by day and week by week.
Your 23 week old baby might have become more settled now and you can begin to fall in with his new rhythm.
He’ll be moving a lot more and developing the large muscles in his arms and legs. This is supporting his gross motor development. Rolling gives him mobility and he might be practising his pre-crawling skills or even showing signs of moving in a forward motion (or backward direction) when he’s on his tummy.
He’ll also be sitting more upright now and will enjoy being at the table in his highchair at mealtimes, regardless of whether he’s started solids yet. He’ll enjoy socializing with older kids and joining in around the dinner table with the rest of the family.
His grasp is improving, in readiness for holding foods by himself, and his tongue reflex will have all but disappeared. You’ll notice lots of drooling and dribbling with the increased saliva production needed for eating solids. You might also notice it still spills out of his mouth when he smiles.
It’ll be a while until he has the muscle tone to hold and swallow saliva, rather than let it dribble out of his mouth.
If you’re still unsure about whether your baby is ready for solid food, don’t worry; we’ve got you covered with our article From Confusion To Clarity – When To Introduce Solids.
Feeding your 23 week old baby
At about six months, most babies are developmentally ready for eating solid foods.
You might be intending to use the Baby-Led Weaning approach. At some time in the next few weeks, your baby will be keen to grasp food and bring it to his mouth. Even if you’ve already started solids, using purees, you can watch for this readiness and then introduce finger foods into your baby’s diet.
Learn more about the types of foods that are easy for your baby to hold in our article 10 First Foods To Try When Baby Led Weaning.
When you first introduce solids, it’s important that milk remains the primary food in your baby’s diet. Whether you’re breastfeeding, mixed feeding or formula feeding, it will be some time before your baby gets complete nutrition from solids. Giving him a milk feed before a solid meal will ensure he satisfies his appetite; any solids he takes afterwards will be complementary to his milk feed.
It’s normal for babies to take a while to digest foods other than milk; this is because their little systems are not yet used to handling foods. So don’t be surprised if his bowel movements remain unchanged after you begin baby-led weaning.
Bringing food to the mouth, biting, chewing and swallowing are complex skills in a process that takes time, coordination and practice – another reason why milk should continue to be your baby’s main food source.
The first sign your baby has actually swallowed something other than milk 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, it will break down more and his system will be able to digest it.
A baby who is fed purees is not able to practise these skills, as the food requires no biting or chewing, so you’ll find his bowel motions change color and texture as soon as he begins to eat solids.
Does your milk supply drop at 6 months?
Your body is designed to exclusively breastfeed your baby until he’s around 6 months, at which point additional foods are required to support his growth and brain development. It’s normal about this time, therefore, for your milk supply to dwindle slightly as your breastfeeding journey moves into a new chapter.
It’s worth noting that milk production works on a supply and demand basis. As your baby gets older, you might find he sleeps for slightly longer or goes longer between feeds.
He might have even dropped a feed overnight. As you begin to introduce solids, his nutritional need for breast milk alone might also decrease.
Because all of these milestones tend to happen around the same time, the ‘demand’ will decrease and inhibit milk production slightly. Around this time many moms notice a change in their baby’s behavior at the breast during feeds.
Your baby might play with your nipple, or use his hands to stimulate your breast. He instinctively knows how to give your milk flow a little boost.
Tips for keep up your milk supply
As their babies’ eating habits begin to change, many mamas notice a dip in their milk supply. If you pump regularly, you might even notice you’re getting slightly less breast milk each time.
Here are a few simple tips for keeping up your supply:
- Use frequent skin to skin time, to boost your oxytocin levels
- Massage the breasts before and during pumping
- Stay hydrated
- Maintain a healthy breastfeeding diet, including fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- Drink mother’s milk tea
- Incorporate galactagogues (substances that boost milk supply) into your diet, such as oatmeal, dark leafy greens, fenugreek, brewer’s yeast, fennel, chickpeas and nuts.
You can also make your own lactation cookies at home.
To find out how, read Lactation Cookies – 90% Of Our Fans Say Our Recipe Works.
How long should my 23 week old baby sleep?
The topic of sleep is always at the forefront of new parents’ minds. There are plenty of varying views on what babies should and shouldn’t be doing with regard to their sleep pattern and arrangements. As a new parent, it’s totally normal to feel confused about what’s best to do for your baby’s health and development.
It’s very common for babies in their first year to wake regularly; research shows it continues to be normal into the second year. In fact, 78% of babies aged 6-12 months still wake regularly at least once in the night; and 61% of babies have at least one milk feed during the night.
Although it might feel bothersome at the time, and you might have almost forgotten what it feels like to have a full night’s sleep, there are some very good reasons why your baby wakes for feeds in the night. Understanding why feeding during the night is important for your baby’s development can at least bring you some comfort in those early hours of the night.
Related reading: Nighttime Breastfeeding – 7 Reasons Why It’s So Important.
Your busy baby might wake after one sleep cycle (around 40 minutes) during the day and might not be interested in resettling. This can be frustrating, especially if he is also waking frequently at night. Although some babies need solid blocks of sleep that last 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 in a 24-hour period, then you can be confident he just doesn’t need as much sleep as other babies might. It’s the same with adults; some need much less than the typical eight hours and others need more. Your baby will sleep when he needs to – and quite likely wherever he happens to be at the time.
Related reading: 6 Ways To Build Your Support Network After Having A Baby.
Learn more about how daytime naps still count when your baby isn’t in his cot in our article Does Your Baby Junk Sleep? 4 Surprising Facts About Baby Sleep.
Wherever you put your little one down to sleep during the day or night, be sure to follow safe sleep guidelines:
- Always place your baby lying flat on his back for sleeping
- Provide a smoke-free environment for your baby
- Breastfeed your baby if you can; breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
- Your baby should sleep in the same room as you for the first 6 months of life
- Use a firm flat mattress and avoid loose bedding, pillows, soft toys and cot bumpers
- Don’t fall asleep with your baby in an armchair or on the sofa
- Don’t sleep in the same bed as your baby if you’ve been smoking, drinking or have taken any drugs/medication
- Don’t sleep in the same bed as your baby if you feel excessively tired
- Don’t sleep in the same bed as your baby if your baby was premature or of low birth weight.
Related reading: Sleeping With Baby – Is Co-Sleeping Safe?
Play and development
What should babies be doing at 23 weeks old?
If your 23 week old baby has begun to move by shuffling along on his bottom, his doctor or other advisers might tell you to encourage 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’s common for these babies to have disliked tummy time and to have shown an early preference for being held upright.
Traditional crawling is recognized 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’s still important to give him plenty of time to roll and to encourage crawling with games and activities. Although 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 them into his playtime. Think about activities that stimulate all his senses: blowing bubbles for him to watch; playing peekaboo; using simple songs and rhymes, such as ‘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.