Your 48 Week Old Baby
Your 48 week old baby is eleven months old! The past 48 weeks have seen her grow and develop so rapidly it is hard to imagine her as the vulnerable newborn she was not so long ago.
She is now confidently moving herself around, while holding onto supports, and the next few weeks might see her stand independently and take her first steps unsupported.
Her brain development has also been rapid. Those seven Leaps that form the Wonder Weeks in the first year have hard-wired her brain for complex processes we take for granted. These mental progressions will continue in the second year, and beyond, with language development becoming a primary focus.
Communication will be increasingly important as your baby becomes a toddler, although there will be times ahead when you’ll wish she could not express her thoughts and opinions so easily. But that’s still a little way into the future, and the final weeks of her first year still have a few surprises in store!
Feeding Your 48 Week Old Baby
If you haven’t already started, you might gradually introduce plates, bowls and cutlery into your 48 week old baby’s mealtimes. Many families avoid some of the inevitable dropping of implements over the side of the highchair by simply not using them to begin with. Baby-led Weaning works best when food is placed on the flat surface of the highchair tray and baby eats using her hands.
By 11 months, your baby’s fine motor control has developed to the extent that she can direct her hand to a small container, grasp something as small as a blueberry, and direct it to her mouth. Her understanding of this process will help her as she learns to use a spoon, then later a fork.
Plates and bowls that can be attached to the tray with suction will save you both some frustration. They not only prevent her lifting and dropping them but also stop them sliding around the tray. She will use some force as she gets the spoon into place and will need a secure target that can resist that force.
Choose wide, flat dishes rather than those that are narrow and high. In the toddler years, divided dishes will be useful to corral different foods and avoid the dreaded “they’re touching each other”, but for now a simple container is best.
Using cutlery requires complex hand-eye coordination and lots of practice. Dropping is inevitable, as reflexive movements can override intentional ones. The messy mat you have on the floor beneath the highchair should be clean enough for you to pick up and return spoons, but have multiples available at each meal, anyway. It reduces how often you need to bend to pick them up. Look for spoons with handles that are easy for your older baby to hold, rather than those intended for feeding purees to much younger babies.
Sleep and Settling
Your 48 week old baby is most likely to be cutting teeth – with the first eight typically in place by 13 months. Soon after that, you might begin to see the one-year-old molars begin their movement through the gum tissue. Keep in mind it is this deeper movement which causes pain and discomfort, not so much the actual eruption through the gum.
Teething discomfort tends to be worse during the night. This could be because babies are busy enough during the day to be distracted from it. The top four teeth can begin movement at the same time, and you might see four swollen spots on your baby’s gum. This can be a miserable time for your baby. She doesn’t know what is happening and just feels uncomfortable.
Teething discomfort can interrupt sleep or make it harder to fall asleep. Your baby will need extra parental support. Breastfeeding, babywearing, rocking, patting and other hands-on techniques can help her relax enough to fall asleep. If you feel your baby is in pain, and simple methods don’t seem to be helping, speak to your baby’s doctor, nurse or pharmacist before offering pain or teething relief products.
Play and Development
If your baby is walking confidently, and holding on to supports like furniture or a walking trolley, it can be fun to hold her hands and become a walking support yourself. You might even think you are helping your baby learn to walk independently. However, it is not such a good idea to do this, for many reasons.
Your baby needs to go through a process that leads to independent walking. The process includes standing, squatting, and stooping down to reach things. She is working hard on balance right now, and using all the small bones and complex muscle systems laid out in her feet for that purpose. While it does no harm to hold both her hands occasionally, and walk her along in front of you, that position is very different from how she will walk by herself; it uses a different posture and point of balance.
For now, it is better to sit with her while she develops her strength and balance. You can encourage her to take a step towards you, or offer an interesting toy for her to grasp, just beyond her reach. Mostly, though, your role is to watch and wait … and keep that camera handy to capture the special moments.
As your baby begins to stand and walk, you might wonder when to buy those important first baby shoes. Family members might be eager to make this purchase, or offer new or hand-me-down shoes for your baby. You might already have a collection of your own, waiting for the big moment!
Apart from soft-soled ‘pre-walkers’, designed to protect your older baby’s feet when she’s playing outside, your baby should learn to walk with bare feet whenever possible. Shoes can interfere with that subtle balancing process, and delay your baby becoming confident in standing or stepping. In fact, delaying shoes as long as possible, even when independent walking begins, is important for the muscle development in her feet.
Your newly-walking baby should have her feet professionally fitted for shoes, to make sure the length and width are just right for her. And her feet will grow so rapidly, it is important to get that fit checked every six to eight weeks, so you know when she is ready to go up to the next size. You can expect her to grow two sizes a year in the first four years!
One more thing about those hand-me-down shoes. Use caution when accepting well-intentioned gifts. Shoe wearers mould their shoes to the subtle shapes of their feet. Because babies and toddlers are still forming the structure of their feet, the opposite can occur, and the shoe might mould the shape of the child’s foot to fit it.
It is important to make a careful inspection of used shoes before putting them on your child. Here are some things to look for:
- Second hand shoes should not have been pushed out of shape by the person who wore them before.
- Scuff marks on the shoes are OK.
- Make sure the heel is worn down evenly.
- Look at the shoe from the heel end and make sure the cup looks straight.
It is better for your child’s foot health to have one or two pairs of well-fitting shoes than a wardrobe full of different styles of cheap or second-hand shoes.
As your baby approaches her first birthday, you might be undecided whether you should wean her or continue breastfeeding into the second year. You might be feeling pressure to wean, from others, or perhaps you’re just not sure whether there are good reasons to breastfeed your toddler. Find out more in our article: Breastfeeding Toddlers – Why Continue Breastfeeding?