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Milestones, Development & What to Know

Milestones, Development & What to Know

Your 38-week-old has a lot going on. Not only are they more curious and opinionated than ever, but they’ve become increasingly capable of getting from point A to point B to explore whatever catches their interest. Baby’s also getting increasingly communicative, babbling away and getting ready to form those first words. Here’s a closer look at what you can expect in 38-week-old baby development.

38-Week-Old-Baby Milestones and Development


As their first birthday approaches, baby’s growth may begin to slow down. A 38-week-old boy is typically 28.2 inches long and weighs 19.5 pounds. Girls are on average 27.5 inches long and weigh 18 pounds. Baby might also have changed where they are on the growth curve, which is okay as long as they’re growing at a steady rate. Of course, if you have any concerns at all, don’t hesitate to check in with your pediatrician.

Emerging skills

There’s so much happening at 38 weeks! Baby’s likely a pro at sitting up without help, and might also be crawling and pulling up on furniture. Baby’s hand-eye coordination is improving, and they can likely hold an object between their fingers and thumb. This means they’re steadily working on the all-important pincer grasp, which will help them pick up small objects more easily. By this age, most babies will look when you say their name and show off a variety of (often hilarious) facial expressions that show they’re happy, sad, angry and surprised. Separation anxiety is also likely to have set in, so don’t be surprised if baby cries when you leave or gets shy around strangers.

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By 38 weeks, baby has likely settled into a regular meal pattern that looks a lot like yours: Three meals a day plus a snack or two. Breast milk or formula are still likely making up most of their calories, though. You can continue to breastfeed baby five or so times a day. If bottle-feeding, you can give your 38-week-old around five bottles a day, typically not exceeding 32 ounces in 24 hours—although keep in mind that babies’ needs differ.


Baby’s sleep needs haven’t changed much in recent weeks. Baby still needs 12 to 16 hours of sleep every 24 hours, including nine to 12 hours at night. That’s not to say things will always go as planned: This age is a very common time for a sleep regression. Sleep interruptions often happen due to teething or separation anxiety. Continue to keep up with a steady bedtime routine and you’ll be out of the weeds soon.

Now that baby is moving more, do they need to wear shoes?

You can hold off on buying footwear until baby starts walking. In fact, you’re likely better off sticking with a simple pair of socks these days. Wearing shoes won’t help baby walk faster, and going barefoot supports healthy foot development. When baby does take those first steps, put them in a pair of shoes that are flexible and lightweight (avoid hard or stiff bottoms), fit well and have non-skid soles. Even then, you only really need them to protect baby’s feet outside. At home, barefoot is still a-okay.

When should you lower baby’s crib mattress?

Chances are, you dropped baby’s crib mattress to the middle setting once they learned to sit up. Now, it’s a good idea to think about dropping it once more. As soon as baby can pull up to stand, it’s important to lower their mattress to the crib’s lowest setting.

I know screen time isn’t advised for babies. But is it okay to have the TV on in the background sometimes?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends avoiding all screen time for children younger than 18 months. (Of course, FaceTime with Grandma is okay!) Background TV might seem like no big deal, but research shows that it can reduce both parent-baby interactions and baby’s attention during play, which are both critical for healthy development. To play it safe, skip the TV and go for some background music or a riveting podcast instead.

Timely 38-Week-Old Topics

Saying “mama” and “dada”

Baby has been babbling for a while now, so you’re no doubt excited to hear them utter a real word. And you may not have to wait long! Babies generally start stringing syllables together by 7 months (“mamamama” and “dadadada”), and while that’s just babble, as baby approaches 9 months they’ll get better at saying the real words! Keep in mind, baby may not understand the meaning of what they’re saying until they’re around a year old—so don’t be surprised if baby calls the postal worker “Mama!” When baby starts to use the word in the proper context, it’ll melt your heart.

Building routines with baby

Now that baby is becoming more aware of their surroundings, it’s a good time to start emphasizing the structure of your days. Consistency will help build baby’s self-confidence and understanding of their place in the world. This might look like regular family meals, a daily walk or their nightly bath. As you move through your routine, use simple language to talk to baby about what you’re doing: “After bath time, we put on a clean diaper.” Of course, your routine doesn’t have to be rigid—things happen. It’s fine (and sometimes fun) to be flexible! As long as you’re keeping with the general rhythm of the day most of the time, baby will get the hang of the routine and reap its benefits.

  • Don’t let impostor syndrome faze you. Impostor syndrome can exist in the parenting world too. Plenty of new parents are affected by the anxiety-fueled idea that they’re failing at their role and will eventually be found out as a fraud—even when they seem to be doing a great job on the outside. This is especially true if you’re a perfectionist or high achiever. Talking about it with other parents can help: Chances are, someone you know is struggling with the same feelings. Similarly helpful is having realistic expectations of yourself, focusing on achievable goals and celebrating small wins. Also, resist the urge to compare yourself to others—Instagram is not reality.

Products You Need at 38 Weeks

  • 9-month toys. As your little one’s skills continue to develop, it’s a good idea to refresh and rotate their playthings! Here are some age-appropriate toys for 9-month-olds.
  • Climbing toys. Now that baby is starting to pull up to stand, this is a great time to look at climbing toys. Pikler triangles are perfect for baby to hold onto as they learn to stand and cruise and will last through the toddler years (and beyond!).

Weekly Activity For Your 38-Week-Old Baby

Break out the bubbles! Touching these soapy spheres and watching them float is an engrossing sensory activity for your 38-week-old that you can do outside on a nice day. You can turn popping bubbles into a game to support baby’s motor skills, or work on language by naming the different parts of baby’s body the bubbles land on.

Whitney Casares, MD, MPH, FAAP, is a pediatrician in Portland, Oregon, and the founder of Modern Mommy Doc. She earned her medical degree from the University of Vermont.

Nemours KidsHealth, Your Baby’s Growth: 9 Months, May 2023

World Health Organization, Length-for-Age Boys: 6 Months to 2 Years

World Health Organization, Weight-for-Age Boys: 6 Months to 2 Years

World Health Organization, Length-for-Age Girls: 6 Months to 2 Years

World Health Organization, Weight-for-Age Girls: 6 Months to 2 Years

Mayo Clinic, Infant Development: Milestones from 7 to 9 Months, December 2022

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Important Milestones: Your Baby by 9 Months, June 2023

Cleveland Clinic, Finger to Thumb: What to Know About the Pincer Grasp, May 2023 (American Academy of Pediatrics), Sample Menu for a Baby 8 to 12 Months Old, August 2022 (American Academy of Pediatrics), Amount and Schedule of Baby Formula Feedings, May 2022

Nemours KidsHealth, Sleep and Your 8- to 12-Month-Old, July 2022

Nemours KidsHealth, Is My Baby Ready for Shoes?, October 2019

American Academy of Pediatrics, Media and Children, June 2021

Pediatrics (American Academy of Pediatrics), Media and Young Minds, November 2016

Cleveland Clinic, Signs it’s Time to Lower Baby’s Crib Mattress, March 2023

Nemours KidsHealth, Communication and Your 8- to 12-Month-Old, July 2022

University of Florida, The Importance of Family Dinners

Healthy Children (American Academy of Pediatrics), 5 Secrets to a Smarter Baby: School Readiness Can Start Now, July 2019

Cleveland Clinic, Impostor Syndrome: What It Is and How to Overcome It, April 2022

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