19 Week Old Baby Development
Your Growing Baby
At this age, babies adore playtime, and games are a big hit—especially ones that involve grabbing and grasping, which help them hone fine motor skills. Try tossing a small soft ball into his lap, then see if he can find it and attempt to do the same. Tie an empty spool of thread from a ribbon and dangle it in front of him; he'll probably make a grab for it. Or show him how to use the toys he hasn't grown into yet, such as stacking rings or shape sorters. The clattering sound as you dump toys from a container might be far more amusing than trying to put them back in.
Of course, for your little one, every game is a learning experience. Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle found that older babies who regularly played with blocks performed better on language tests than babies who didn't. One theory: The simple games encourage parent-baby bonding and reduce TV time or other activities that don't engage baby. They also stretch your baby's brain, encouraging your little one to make new mental leaps—a process that helps your baby's development across the board.
Your baby might approach games with an impressive sense of purpose; you might notice that he furrows his brow and looks like he's deeply concentrating, for example. All this fun is mentally hard work for a 4- or 5-month-old, so if he starts getting cranky, it could be a sign that he's had enough for now and needs a break or a nap.
Health and Safety Info
Studies show that babies who are 4-1/2 months old recognize their own name—and they prefer hearing it over other sounds. By now, your baby is also expert at IDing your voice, and he'll usually turn his head when he hears it. Some babies take a little longer with these skills than others, but if your child doesn't seem responsive to your voice or doesn't start babbling within the next month or so, a hearing problem could be to blame.
Babies with hearing problems might still be startled by loud noises—the classic hearing test for infants—but they might have difficulty hearing low tones, understanding certain speech sounds, or imitating the sounds that make up speech. If you have any concerns, ask your pediatrician to do a hearing test. She'll use an otoscope to examine your baby for physical problems, such as a ruptured eardrum, or turn to one of two tests that screen small babies for hearing loss:
- The auditory brain stem response (ABR) test uses electrodes to measure how your baby's auditory nerve reacts to sound.
- The otoacoustic emissions (OAE) test uses microphones to measure the echo of sounds in your baby's ear canal. No echo signifies hearing loss.
If your baby does have hearing loss, treatments can include surgery for structural problems, ear tubes to remedy repeated ear infections, or speech therapy. But doctors agree that starting treatment before 6 months is best, so consult your pediatrician soon if you're concerned.
Baby's Changing Sleep Patterns
Ideally, your baby is sleeping through the night by now—and ideally, we'd also have world peace. Neither seems to be happening on quite the schedule we'd like. If your little one still wakes up one or more times a night, you might consider just letting him cry through it. The rationale is that all babies wake up several times during the night, but the difference between those who wail and those who simply drift back off to sleep is that the latter group has learned how to self-soothe rather than rely on you for comfort.
To make it work, pick a week when both you and your husband will be around; you'll need the extra hands on deck. At bedtime, go through your normal routine, including a warm bath and a few books. Once your little one seems drowsy but before he nods off, put him down in his crib. The clincher to the cry-it-out method is getting your baby accustomed to falling asleep on his own, instead of relying on being rocked, held, or fed to sleep (because he'll demand a repeat of that scenario in the middle of the night, and you'll have to get involved). He'll probably cry, and if it goes on for more than 10 minutes you might want to make a quick guest appearance, just to reassure him that you're still around. But don't pick him up, or you'll have to start the cycle all over.
It takes a certain amount of fortitude, since it's not easy listening to him sob, but you might be surprised to see the crying diminish each night. Within three days or a week, you should wake up at 7 a.m. totally amazed—and totally refreshed.