Can you believe you’re almost halfway through the first year? By 23 weeks, you’re a complete pro at meeting baby’s needs—because if you don’t, they’ll let you know! Here’s more of what to expect with your increasingly vocal and mobile 23-week-old.
23-Week-Old Baby Milestones & Development
Baby boys at 23 weeks weigh, on average, 16.8 pounds, while girls clock in at about 15.4 pounds. The average length (aka height) is around 26.2 for boys and 25.4 inches for girls. Remember, percentiles are just tools that healthcare experts use to gauge growth over time. Every baby has their own growth curve—and as long as they’re growing steadily, they’re doing just fine.
Your 23-week-old is about to hit some major social and emotional milestones: They’re starting to recognize the people around them, they love to look at themselves in the mirror and they’re developing quite the infectious laugh. By this age, they’re also starting to take turns making sounds with you, putting things in their mouths to explore them and reaching to grab toys they want. Physically, baby’s working on rolling from their belly to back and pushing themselves up with straight arms when on their tummy. The journey to independent sitting continues; baby might be leaning on their hands to support themselves while sitting.
Whether breastfed or formula-fed, babies should be taking in around 28 to 32 ounces of milk a day. Breastfed babies will likely eat every three to four hours. For bottle-fed babes, follow their cues for when they’re full, like turning their head away from the bottle or pushing it away with their hands. Baby will likely be ready for solid foods soon: Talk to your pediatrician and watch for readiness signs like baby watching you eat with interest or reaching for your food.
At this age, babies need between around 12 and 16 hours of sleep per day, with at least two naps. If baby’s waking for a nighttime feeding, keep it quick and quiet. Now’s a good time to encourage good sleep habits by setting a consistent bedtime routine.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns that because their immune symptoms are still developing, even healthy babies are at a higher risk of getting very sick from the flu. That’s why it’s important that baby get vaccinated at their upcoming 6-month checkup. Call your doctor if baby has a fever above 101, refuses fluids, has lasting diarrhea or vomiting, or shows any signs of dehydration.
Can I spread out baby’s 6-month vaccines?
At baby's 6-month checkup, they may get five or six shots at once, which seems like so many for such a little person. It’s tempting to want to spread them out, but pediatricians say that waiting can leave baby vulnerable to the diseases they’re not yet inoculated for. Also, the vaccine schedule isn’t arbitrary; it’s the culmination of the best information available from leading experts.
Should I give baby Tylenol before shots?
You want baby to be in as little pain as possible after all those needle pokes, but experts say that giving them fever-reducing medicine before they get their immunizations may actually diminish their immune response and make the vaccines less effective. If baby seems uncomfortable after vaccines or has a fever, pediatricians recommend giving acetaminophen (infant Tylenol) every four to six hours, as needed. But if you have any questions, just ask your pediatrician.
At their 6-month appointment, baby will receive several vaccines, including the third dose for serious illnesses such as diphtheria, polio and rotavirus. Check in with your pediatrician’s office beforehand so you know exactly which shots to expect. Babies get their shots in their thighs, so try to dress baby in easy-to-change, loose clothing to reduce discomfort. To make baby less uncomfortable, you can also hold them while they’re getting the shot—breastfeeding or bottle-feeding immediately after can help them too. Have a pacifier ready, if they use one.
Holding a bottle
While it’s ultimately up to baby to decide when they’re ready to hold their bottle, there are a few things you can do to help them get ready for the big moment. Most babies will start holding their own bottles as their fine-motor skills develop between 6 to 10 months. Of course, every baby is different, and the typical window for baby holding a bottle can be pretty wide. Some learn to hold the bottle pretty early on, while others take their time—and both are okay. If you watch carefully, baby will give you clues to tell you they’re ready to get more involved at mealtimes, such as sitting up independently for a few minutes or reaching for the bottle during feedings. Be patient and remember to follow baby’s cues.
- Look out for your partner’s mental health. Postpartum depression, anxiety and other mental health issues don’t just affect birthing parents. Check in on your partner and other caregivers. Share the symptoms of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) with your loved ones, such as thoughts that won’t slow down, anger, irritability, fatigue or disordered sleep, not feeling “like yourself,” or the urge to hurt yourself or baby. If you know someone who could use help, ask your healthcare provider or baby’s pediatrician for resources.
Products You Need at 23 Weeks
- 6-month-old toys. Can you believe baby is about to turn 6 months old? Refresh your toy selection with some age-appropriate playthings.
- Teething toys. If they haven’t already, your little one is about to enter the teething stage. Help keep them comfortable (and entertained!) with some top-notch teething toys.
Weekly Activity for Your 23-Week-Old Baby
Hit the floor with baby! As much as time allows, let your 23-week-old play on the floor, where they can roll and explore. Dangle a toy just out of their reach, so they can roll toward it and try to grab it. Aim for five to 10 minutes of floor time a few times a day.