Baby Care

11 week old baby

Breastfeeding

Your baby is getting closer to their 3rd month of life, a time of even more change and development. You will have noticed them growing out of their tiny clothes and you may need to go shopping for ones in the next size up. Most parents don’t need too much persuasion to do this and if you have been lucky, you will have been given lots of clothing as gifts.

Make a point of dressing your baby in their special clothes, even if you are just spending the day at home. You will be amazed at how quickly they grow out of small sizes.

Your baby’s weight is only one indication of their overall growth and you will see that they are looking longer, their head a little larger and their limbs straighter than they were just a few weeks ago. Your baby’s size is influenced by many factors. Their individual make-up, the genetics they inherited from you and your partner, their environment and importantly, the nutrition they are receiving each and every day.

Who are you like?

You are likely to feel your baby has an identity now with a little personality unique to them. You may see or sense familial similarities which come as a surprise. Alternately, your baby may seem so unique that they aren’t like anyone else in the family at all. Parents are pre-programmed to respond and care for their children. This is all about nurturing our own DNA and genetic code so that future generations can carry on our inheritance. It’s also about the pure joy and pleasure involved in loving the little person we have created.

Babies are easy to fall in love with. There is something about them which strikes a chord within their parents, who feel they would do anything for them. In families where there is more than one child, it can be common for parents to feel differently towards each child. There are many reasons why this happens. If you do not feel as if you have bonded or attached to your baby, do speak with someone about this. By 11 weeks there has been enough time and opportunity for the relationship between you to have formed. These weeks should be time of pleasure, even if they are more tiring than you could have imagined.

Feeding

Some babies are particularly hungry and never seem to be satisfied, even after long feeds. They are at their happiest when they are sucking and don’t seem to be able to last long between feed times. If this sounds like your baby, try not to be concerned. As long as they are gaining sufficient weight – around 150-200 grams/week, they will be getting enough milk to grow. Don’t be tempted to offer your baby solids, no matter what advice you have been given. Their digestion is simply too immature to deal with ingesting any food other than breastmilk or formula. It won’t be until they are closer to 6 months that their gut is able to deal with additional nutrition.

Delaying solids until 6 months is also thought to be a protective strategy against the development of allergies.

Sleeping

Your baby will still be showing the classic signs of tiredness at 11 weeks. Yawing, grizzling, not able to hold your gaze for very long and having to look away. They may even look a little pale with reddened eyes. Try to avoid your baby becoming overtired before you place them in their cot for sleeps.

All babies have a “sleep window” of time where it is easier for them to drop off to sleep. Missing your baby’s cues or signals that they are tired and ready for sleep could easily lead to them becoming overtired. This will make it harder for them to settle down and drop off to sleep.

If you are happy to cuddle your baby until they go off to sleep, this is fine if it is working for you both. What commonly happens at this age is that babies will only sleep for around 20 minutes if they are placed into their cot already asleep. If this is happening with your baby, aim to lay them down into their cot when they are sleepy and tired but still awake.

Patting, soothing and comforting them whilst they are in their cot is a good strategy to encourage them to go to sleep in the same place where they are going to wake up.

Behaviour and development

Lots of smiles, coos, mouthing and even small laughs from your little one this week. Play peek-a-boo, pat-cake and blow raspberries with your baby. Sing nursery rhymes, make funny faces and just have fun. Make up little games which are unique to you both. These interactions don’t need to be complex, in fact the simpler the better. By doing this you will be feeding your baby’s brain, which is just as important as feeding their body.

Science has shown that one of the most rapid and important periods for brain development happens in the first 3 years of life. It is vital for children to receive loving, sensitive and nurturing interaction and care over this time and, all of the years until they become fully independent adults.

Avoid feeling as if you constantly need to do things for your baby, sometimes it is enough just to be with them.

Crying

Your baby’s cry may be changing now, towards becoming more intense, louder and more demanding. They are starting to know what they want and you’ll find their cry sounds different, dependent on what their needs are. Some babies are easier to “read” than others. They are more passive, easy to please and are quickly soothed. Others can be more high needs and require lots of soothing and reassurance before they will calm.

Temperament and personality are again, largely genetically inherited traits. Many parents feel they see their own personalities reflected in their baby, even at this early stage.

Routine

Your baby may have reduced to 5 feeds/24 hours now and isn’t demanding a feed in the middle of the night. Take advantage of this if you can and try to time your own longer night time sleep period to fit in with theirs. Many parents, especially mothers, see their baby’s longer sleep block as a chance to catch up on some chores. Look for a balance with what you are doing and try not to compromise your own opportunity for sleep just for the sake of an ordered house.

Sleep is vital for your immune system to function well, to help with your memory and to feel vitalised and refreshed the next day. If you feel as if you have “baby brain” having more sleep is likely to help. Make sure you are well hydrated with plain water and avoid drinking too much coffee or tea.

What you can expect

Your baby is getting closer to 3 months old, that magic age where they are likely to become more settled. You may have even found they are more predictable and having less crying episodes this week. Don’t be concerned if they are still having a couple of wakeful, unsettled periods a day.

Check with your child health nurse that you are doing what you can in terms of comforting your baby. Deep warm baths, tummy massage, going for a walk and having some floor time are all useful strategies to help with calming.

For more information see Baby weeks or Baby Care.