20 Week Old Baby Development
Your Growing Baby
Ready to Sit!
Get ready for another photo op: Your baby might soon be able to sit up without any help. This milestone first occurs around 5 months of age, but she'll be pretty shaky at first and will lean forward on her hands for balance. She'll get steadier and steadier over time, and usually by 9 months she'll be able to keep herself upright without falling. All that tummy time has made her a lot stronger, too. By this week she might be able to lift both her arms and legs off the floor when she's lying on her belly, as though she's flying. Superman to the rescue!
You've come a long way from her sleepy newborn days. Right now, your baby is a bundle of energy. She's awake more during the day and is probably down to two solid naps now—one a few hours after getting up and another post-lunchtime. The rest of her day she wants to spend time practicing her new skills: grabbing things, rolling around, chattering away, and playing quietly by herself.
Your baby's playtime will probably be filled with plenty of mouthing—or cramming everything in there to observe taste and texture. She's still got a strong drive to suck, especially if she's started solids, which helps strengthen her mouth muscles. And with constantly improving hand-eye coordination, suddenly everything in sight is fair game—including your grubby running shoes, the dog's tail, and crumbs she finds on the kitchen floor. Don't stress too much if she puts something yucky in her mouth; after all, it's her main way of exploring. Just take the objectionable thing away and replace it with something she can go to town on, such as a teething ring.
Health and Safety Info
Weight Gain Must-Knows
Between 4 and 6 months, your baby will have doubled her birth weight. Her weight-gain rate is fastest during her first 6 months of life; after that, overall growth slows down, though she'll still go through some growth spurts. Many babies triple the weight on their birth announcement by the time they send out invites to their first birthday party. Meanwhile, it's hard not to stress about weight gain: Is my little one packing on too many pounds? Is she too skinny? Your doctor will track your baby's weight on a growth chart, and as long as her progress is steady—she's always around the 75th percentile, say—there's no need to worry. You can encourage healthy weight gain by avoiding force-feeding your baby. Let her stop when she loses interest rather than coaxing her into just one more bite.
Be Aware of Allergies
In other health news, if you or your husband has allergies, such as hay fever or a skin sensitivity (for instance, to wool or certain cleaning products), you might be wondering whether your baby will develop them at some point, too. The main symptoms, such as sneezing or watery eyes, could easily be confused with a common cold, although allergies are apt to last longer than the average case of the sniffles. Watch for symptoms such as dry, red, or itchy skin, a rash, congestion, watery eyes, and sneezing—and, rarely, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath (if this happens, call the doctor right away). Your pediatrician can help you figure out what she might be reacting to—pollen in the air, a new kind of soap—and might recommend an antihistamine, such as Benadryl, to clear it up.
Baby's Developing Personality
By now your baby has developed a personality. She might be an easy and happy-go-lucky little gal who sleeps through the night and loves being held by everyone. Or she might be Oscar the Grouch, fussing her way through the day, sleeping little at night, and refusing to be held by anyone but you. Much of your baby's personality was hardwired before she was even born; it doesn't reflect on your parenting abilities, just who your baby is (at least for now). Learning to accept your little one's personality, whether it's bubbly or bristling, will help you feel more content as a parent.
Though some grumpy babies grow out of this high-maintenance phase eventually, the moodiness can be hard to take. How to cope? First, try to keep your cool. Babies are keen at sensing emotions, so if she thinks you've lost your temper, she might get even more upset. Try to spot patterns in her mood swings. Does she get upset by loud noises, such as the TV or vacuum? Does she always wake up from nap time a famished wreck? Then brainstorm ways to short-circuit the problem, such vacuuming while your hubby takes the baby for a walk or having a postnap bottle ready to go. Knowing what to expect can also be calming, so develop a bedtime routine that involves things such as cuddling after she gets out of the tub or using a white noise machine to help her sleep at night.