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Just as 18 years is a remarkable moment in an adult’s life, 18 weeks of your baby’s growth should not be any less. It has been nearly 72 days of being engaged with your little one on a daily basis, watching him wake up and go to sleep, and feed, burp, and play and fall, and everything that comes along with it. At this stage, most babies ramp up their development even more and get a good idea of how to handle themselves.
An 18 Week-Old Baby’s Development
Your 18-week old baby weight gain will have reduced a bit compared to how it was earlier since most of the development now occurs in matters of mental and emotional aspects. That being said, there are still many changes that 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. Most babies will be constantly wriggling when you hold them or wrap them, and at times might bump their head on the floor, or fall of the couch and so on. Although rarely do any falls cause damage to the baby, extra precautions do need to be taken to prevent the worst from happening. Since your baby is now interacting with other people without worry, you might think of hiring someone to take care of your child while you start making your plans to get back to work.
[Also Read: 4 Months Old Baby Development]
An Eighteen Week-Old Baby’s Milestones
- All aspects that they see are interesting and intriguing for the baby. This also includes their own selves as they begin to properly start understanding what their hands and legs are made of. Observing their fingers and toes, seeing how they move, and attempting to put them in the mouth will be a daily activity.
- Along with understanding how they look like, your baby will also begin to form some understanding around how best to use them. 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 have left him there properly.
- 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 allows him to move his limbs a lot more than before, which then assist him in learning to walk.
- At this 17 week mark, most of the teeth start preparing themselves by taking their positions under the gums and start rising one by one. If your baby is one of those with the 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.
- Individuality and understanding of himself are what starts to dawn upon your baby around this time. Knowing that his sounds are different from yours, seeing your face in the mirror alongside his own, and learning things from you helps him put together all the aspects that constitute him.
- This will make him increase his interaction with the people he knows well and trusts. It could also mean that any strangers might make him wary and cause him to cry out for you. The more time they spend with someone, the more babies start trusting them.
- The perception of space, depth and coordination would 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.
- Communication develops a lot more as he tries to repeat 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 also acts 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 been feeding off your breast for all this while. Many babies do accept the bottle quickly since the increased flow and convenience works in their favour. Other babies might want the presence and comfort of a breast they trust and might 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. After a while, you can pull away from your breast and try introducing the bottle. A few repetitions of these might 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 might 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, keep breastmilk stored so that it can be given via the 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. Please do not fall for it even if it ends up with your baby crying.
[Also Read: 4 Months Old Baby Food]
For an 18-week old baby, sleep still remains the most important aspect of their growth. Any distractions might cause him to refrain from sleeping properly. 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, might all work in favour of sleep. The schedule of falling asleep might be slightly disturbed by it but most babies do get used to it soon. There isn’t a particular need to wrap your baby up when he sleeps at this age. The motor movement is essential to growth. So, it is important to note that there are no hard toys or objects as such in the vicinity of the baby while he sleeps, which he could hold by mistake and whack himself with.
[Also Read: 4 Months Old Baby Sleep]
An 18 Week-Old Baby’s Care Tips
- When switching to bottle from the breast, make the transition gentle and comfortable for your little one.
- Keep toys and objects away from your baby while he sleeps.
- 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
Your baby’s power to remember and recall starts 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 and talking in small whispers. 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
Being curious about new things is what defines all babies. Some babies might not want to interact with new people and that’s fine. But they always seem to be curious about who they are and might keep glancing at them. If your baby doesn’t seem to have any interest or doesn’t seem to register their 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. While interacting with others, if most describe your baby as lethargic or there doesn’t seem to be any semblance of energy to him, health-related issues might be a possibility with him and your paediatrician should take a look immediately.
Your baby’s mental development and emotional development go a long way in creating a sociable personality. No matter if he is naturally introverted or extroverted, your baby will always tend to have a good rapport with you and this will keep getting stronger as he approaches childhood.
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