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Your baby is officially 18 weeks old and you might have witnessed quite a few developments in him in the past months. While it may seem to you that he has turned 18 weeks so soon, you know it well that’s not true! You have had sleepless nights and done everything possible to take care of him and help him meet his milestones. By now, your little one must have discovered his feet and toes and he will start rolling over any day now, if he hasn’t already. By this stage, most babies ramp up their development even more and get a good idea of how to handle themselves. Learn everything you need to know about your 18-week-old baby’s development.
Your 18-week-old Baby’s Development
Your baby will continue to gain weight but his weight gain will reduce a bit in comparison to the previous months. From now on, his emotional and mental development will start. That being said, there are still many changes that will happen in the physical behaviour and motor coordination portions of his body. Having started rolling over already or being pretty much on the verge of doing that, your baby will now fall in love with the concept of movement and would want to engage himself in carrying it out. Your baby may constantly wriggle if you hold him or wrap him, and at times might bump his head on the floor or fall of the couch, and so on. If your baby has started rolling over, you need to take extra precautions to prevent the worst from happening.
[Also Read: 4 Months Old Baby Development]
Your 18-week-old Baby’s Milestones
- By this week, your baby will find everything interesting and intriguing. He will even be intrigued by his own body parts; he will discover his hands and legs. He will observe his fingers and toes, will see how they move, and attempt to put them in the mouth. He will soon gather how to use them the best. This could mean that he will be able to put his legs on the bars of the crib and push himself to move around in that space itself. Don’t be surprised to see your baby in a weird position moments after you leave him there on his own.
- Although wrapping your baby when he sleeps will help him prevent from doing any harm to himself, many recommend leaving your baby as is. This will allow him to move his limbs a lot more than before, which will then help him learn to walk.
- By this time, your little one’s teeth will start preparing themselves by taking their positions under the gums and erupt slowly. If your baby has early teething tendencies, there is a high probability that the front teeth of the bottom gum might already be starting to show themselves near the surface, just about to cut it.
- Your baby will now learn about his own individuality and will understand that the sounds he makes will be different from yours. He will see your face in the mirror alongside his own and will learn things from you.
- Slowly, he will start interacting with the familiar faces around him – he will also start trusting them. This also means that strangers might make him wary and he may cry looking for you among strange faces. But the more time your baby spends with them, the more he will start trusting them.
- By this time, his perception of space, depth, and coordination will have improved quite a lot. His judgement in going for objects and grabbing them will be met by a reduced number of failures. Being able to look at multiple objects and follow those with his eyes will start becoming a normal task for him.
- His communication skills will develop a lot (as per his age though) more as he will try to imitate the sounds you make and establish contact with you. This can be escalated further as you repeat back the sounds he makes but in a louder voice or a different tone. It acts as validation and encourages him to communicate more often. Using different objects to make sounds will also help in the same way.
[Also Read: 4 Months Old Baby Milestones]
Most mothers tend to start making their way to return back to work or at least take some time off to catch up with work-related activities from home. This might necessitate feeding your baby via a bottle especially if he has been purely feeding off your breast all this while. Many babies do accept the bottle quickly since the increased flow and convenience works in their favour. Other babies might want breastmilk and may not accept the bottle readily.
One way to work this out would be to keep a bottle by your side while you are breastfeeding your baby. You can introduce the bottle gradually. If you introduce it slowly and repeatedly, it will make your baby believe that the bottle is an extension of you and start drinking from the bottle as well. Gradually, you can then let your baby lie by your side and feed him using a bottle or ask somebody else to help you out with that. Some babies reject a bottle but accept milk through a cup or so. If any other person is going to be taking care of the feeds in your absence, do make sure they have a proper understanding of how much feeding is necessary and an approximate schedule that your baby is used to.
If possible, pump the breastmilk and store it so that it can be given via bottle; and resort to giving the formula only if this isn’t a possibility. Your parents or relatives of the earlier generation might take care of your baby and find it appropriate to introduce solid foods since that was the norm in their times. It is important to make it expressly clear to abstain from giving any solids. Your baby might show interest in wanting to taste something on seeing others have their food but don’t start with solids yet. Your little one is still too young to be given solids.
[Also Read: 4 Months Old Baby Food]
For an 18-week old baby, sleep still remains the most important aspect of his growth. Any distractions may disrupt his sleep and make him cranky. If others are taking care of him, do let them know of any techniques or any music that is beneficial in making him fall asleep quickly. Holding him for a while, cuddling him, or taking a small stroll in the pram, and other such activities can make him fall asleep. There isn’t a particular need to wrap your baby up when he sleeps at this age. But you must make sure that there are no hard toys or objects on your baby’s bed while he sleeps or he might hold them in his sleep and get hurt.
[Also Read: 4 Months Old Baby Sleep]
Tips to Take Care of Your 18-week-old Baby
Here are some tips you should follow while taking care of your 18-week-old baby.
- You can introduce bottle feeding to him, but the transition should happen slowly and gradually, plus it should be comfortable for your little one.
- Your little one will soon start rolling now, so keep toys that have sharp edges away from him. When your little one is asleep, make sure there are no hard toys near him.
- Try hanging playful objects above your baby to keep him occupied when he wakes up.
[Also Read: 4 Months Old Baby Care]
Tests and Vaccinations
The vaccines of PCV, diphtheria, polio, rotavirus and others are usually administered once the baby has completed 4 months and before he completes 6 months. If the vaccines have been given before, no vaccination is necessary now. If not, your doctor will assist you in developing the right schedule for them.
Games and Activities to Keep Your Baby Engaged
Your baby’s power to remember and recall will start developing a lot more in these weeks and it is necessary to keep that progress going. As sounds are important, so is silence. By talking to him constantly, you can introduce the concept of being quiet by whispering or talking softly (or not talking for a while and just observing him). These little acts and games will help him recognize sounds better. The act of saying “shhh” and then talking gently to your child can be quite an experience for him. At the same time, you can make it fun for him by talking to your baby via a baby monitor. This can also be done by recording your voice on the phone and playing back the audio from another corner of the room. Just the presence of your voice will bring about a smile and recognition on his face.
[Also Read: 4 Months Old Baby Games and Activities]
When to Consult a Doctor
Babies are curious and by now you must have figured that out! Your little one will be curious too and he will be curious about himself and will notice different things about him. But if your baby doesn’t seem to have any interest or doesn’t seem to register his presence at all, it is definitely strange and should be checked with the doctor.
This could also be in case of new toys and games, too. And if your baby doesn’t show any interest in interacting with others and seems lethargic, it could be because of some health-related issues. So you must take him to a paediatrician immediately.
Your baby’s mental and emotional development will be rapid at this stage and it will give him a personality in future. You will also see other developments in him! Your baby’s progress can bring a sense of relief and you should feel proud of him. But if you feel that your baby is not developing as per his age, do consult a doctor and get him checked!
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