Peekaboo! At 26 weeks, baby’s playful nature is emerging more than ever: Baby’s laughing, squealing and interacting with you by making lots of funny sounds. They’re also likely using babbling to get your attention. (Sneak preview: Soon enough, “da!” will turn into “dadada” and then to “dada!”) Here’s more of what to expect in the life of a 26-week-old.
26-Week-Old Baby Milestones & Development
A 26-week-old baby girl in the 50th percentile weighs around 16.1 pounds, while boys weigh around 17.5 pounds on average. The average length is around 25.9 inches for girls and 26.6 inches for boys. Keep in mind that these are just averages—every baby grows at their own rate. By this age, you should begin to see a curve along which baby is growing steadily. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to ask your pediatrician.
Baby’s hand-eye coordination is improving: During mealtimes, they might be showing off their “raking grasp,” aka using their fingers (not yet the thumb) to bring food closer. They’re also working on sitting up independently, possibly leaning on their hands to support themselves. Baby’s communication is evolving, and they’re likely copying what you do: Engage in some back-and-forth by copying them, which will help develop their budding social skills.
You should still aim for between 24 and 32 ounces of breast milk or formula a day. If you’re thinking of introducing solids this week, first make sure baby’s ready: They should be able to sit up alone or with support, have good head and neck control, and generally open their mouth when food is offered. (It helps if they’re interested in your food too!) You can start by introducing foods that are mashed, pureed or strained. Or, you can go the baby-led weaning route, which skips purees and spoon-feeding in favor of baby feeding themselves finger foods. Whichever method you choose, make sure to avoid common choking hazards such as uncut grapes or cherry tomatoes, hot dogs, nuts, popcorn, potato chips and hard candy. Also be sure to steer clear of cow’s milk and honey (it can cause a serious type of food poisoning called infant botulism) until baby’s first birthday.
The six-month mark is a common one for baby to go through a sleep regression. Baby is becoming more aware of and sensitive to sounds and their environment—and reaching a number of developmental milestones—so they might be waking more frequently and having trouble falling asleep (sometimes making up for it with longer daytime naps). This could last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Stick to a consistent bedtime routine and engage in soothing activities like rocking and cuddling to help baby wind down before bed. Baby needs about 12 to 16 hours of sleep a day, including at least two naps.
Baby won’t poop. What’s going on?
It’s not unusual for babies to become constipated when they first start solids. Look for signs like less pooping than their usual pattern, straining to poop, hard and pebbly poop, a swollen belly and signs of pain (they might pull their legs up to their stomach). To help, experts recommend feeding them pureed pears, peaches or prunes, giving baby a warm bath to relax and exercising their legs like a “bicycle” to help stimulate bowel movements. If at-home treatments don’t work, or if baby is vomiting or has blood in their stool, make sure to call your pediatrician.
Do I need to lower the crib mattress now that baby can sit up?
Yep! Before baby can sit up, “commando crawl” or get up on their hands and knees—all of which babies often do around 6 months, in preparation for crawling—the crib mattress should be lowered to its middle setting.
Big tub safety
Chances are, your 26-week-old is on the verge of outgrowing that tiny infant tub. Once baby can sit up on their own with minimal help, they’re likely ready to move to the big bathtub. When bathing baby, fill the tub with no more than 2 inches of water, and make sure the water temperature is under 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Most importantly, never ever leave baby unattended in the tub, even for a second; babies can drown in as little as 3 to 4 inches of water. And don’t rely on bath seats or rings to do the job—they might be convenient, but they can give you a false sense of security. Instead, keep at least one hand on baby at all times.
Toys and playtime
An important way to help baby hit key milestones and gain new skills is to choose toys and activities that match what your little one is ready to work on. After all, children learn through play! So what kinds of playthings should you be offering now to encourage your child's development? Babies this age are working on sitting independently, so look for toys that can be played with while lying on their tummy or sitting up. Board and cloth books and textured balls are perfect objects for baby to hold and explore. Also great are stackable cups: Not only do they promote hand-eye coordination, but you can hide things under the cups to teach baby that objects still exist even when they can't see them.
- Get help if you’re feeling down. Emotional ups and downs are par for the course in the postpartum period. But if you've been feeling unusually sad lately, you could be experiencing postpartum depression (PPD). Research shows that rates of PPD tend to increase slightly in the months leading up to baby's first birthday. If you think you might need some extra support, make sure to talk to your provider, who may recommend options like medication and therapy. Signs that it’s time to reach out to a provider include sleep disturbances (beyond being woken by baby), racing thoughts that impact your ability to focus and get things done, feelings of guilt and shame, isolating or harming yourself, not wanting to bond with baby (even after a break) and experiencing “mom rage” that doesn’t go away.
Products You Need at 26 Weeks
- No-slip bath mat. If baby’s transitioning to the big tub, make sure to do it safely. A textured, no-slip bath mat will keep baby from sliding around in there.
- Spout cover. The occasional bath bump may be inevitable, but a cushioned bath spout cover will soften the blow and protect baby's head.
- Diaper pail. If you opted to skip the diaper pail at the beginning, once baby starts eating solids, you may change your mind. (Prepare your nose; those diapers get way stinkier!) If you decide you want an odor-blocking pail after all, these are some top choices.
Weekly Activity for Your 26-Week-Old Baby
During tummy time, put toys just out of baby’s reach to encourage them to practice moving. Take a cue from the cat’s toys and try dragging a string or stuffed animal around to make the game more challenging. The muscles baby engages when they’re on the floor are the ones they’ll eventually use to stand up and walk.