7 Week Old Baby
Your baby may be changing its facial appearance, from having less of a very newborn look to developing more of its own unique characteristics. Your own genetic influence, as well as your partner’s, may be very obvious in some of its features.
A dimpled chin, distinctive nose, long fingers and toes, the list of shared characteristics with parents is endless. Unfortunately, we cannot predict or directly influence the inherited traits we’d like to pass onto our children – that is for nature to determine.
Don’t forget to take lots of photos and videos of your baby while it is still so young. Some parents do a series of monthly photos so they can compare their baby’s growth and development. Others record every little milestone in their baby’s personal health record book. Understandably, if this is your first baby, you’re likely to have more time to invest into this. But even if you’ve had lots of children before, try to find a few moments to record some of their unique qualities.
Your baby’s skills in feeding will have developed even further by 7 weeks of age. They will have become more efficient at sucking and swallowing and have learned how to feed at a rate and pattern which suits them. If you are breastfeeding you may find your supply decreases a little around now. The hormones which sustained your supply in the early weeks will have settled. Your milk supply will be determined by the frequency of your baby’s feeds as well as how effectively they empty your breasts.
If your baby is going through a growth spurt they are likely to demand feeds more frequently. Don’t worry if your supply seems low for a day or so. If you allow your baby to feed more often and ensure they are sucking correctly, your supply will increase.
If you are bottle feeding, you may need to increase the amount of formula you are offering in each bottle. Don’t forget that your baby will need formula milk for the first 12 months of their life
You still won’t be back to your normal 8-10 hour night time sleep pattern just yet. But if you’re lucky your baby will be having at least one longer, uninterrupted sleep cycle overnight. This is commonly around 6 hours, but only if they have had sufficient feeds over the last 24 hours.
Keep following the safe sleeping guidelines as recommended by the SIDS Foundation. Remember to settle your baby to sleep on their back from birth, avoid your baby being exposed to tobacco smoke, provide your baby with their own safe sleeping environment, make sure your baby is in their own safe sleeping environment for the first 6-12 months, and ensure their face is uncovered.
Behaviour and Development
You are probably getting lots of smiles from your baby each day now with some little cooing noises as well. It is important to talk to your baby throughout the day when they are awake. Even though they can’t talk back (yet) they will still be listening to you and will benefit from this stimulation. Try to find time each day to read to your baby as well. They won’t be too particular about what you are reading, but the sound of your voice, its pitch, flow and rhythm will all help your baby to lay down the foundations for their own speech and language to develop. Don’t forget to sing too, and recite some nursery rhymes while you’re at it. Try not to feel awkward or uncomfortable as you do this. Your baby will only benefit from your loving interaction.
Don’t forget some tummy time each and every day. Your baby’s tolerance for having this is hopefully increasing and you’ll see the benefits as they lift their head to almost 45°. Watch out for that little bobbing head though, it can get pretty hard to hold up for more than a minute or two. A soft blanket is usually enough protection for their nose and face to fall onto.
Your baby’s cry may be changing now, from a high pitched, mewing cry to a louder more lusty one. You’ll notice the intensity of your baby’s cry is different as well, depending on the cause. A tired cry is very different to a hungry cry which again, can be very different from a discomfort cry.
Some cries are easier to tolerate than others, such as a tired whingy grizzle, but others are a real call for your immediate response. Follow your own gut feeling on whether you feel your baby needs some attention. Research shows that babies who are attended to quickly tend to cry less and be more settled than those who are left to cry.
Your days will still be largely occupied with feeding, settling and attending to your baby’s needs. He or she is too little yet to have a predictable, set routine. But there is likely to be a little more structure to your days.
This may be the week when you get out more and aren’t so focused on the baby. Although this can take a lot of planning, it can be worth it just to have a break from being at home. Don’t underestimate the importance of having a supportive network of family and friends. New parents are not meant to be isolated and humans by nature are highly social creatures.
What You Can Expect
There are likely to be more noises coming from your little one this week, especially when you talk and look at them. Each time you do this, you will be helping the pathways in your baby’s brain to form. Your baby is a sponge at this age and their brain will literally be moulded by the loving interaction and care you provide them with.
Look for their responses when you interact with them and be sensitive to their cues. One of the most important factors in raising emotionally healthy children is that parents are tuned into them. Communicating with your baby is a two way process but it’s very tiring work. If your baby breaks their gaze, looks away or becomes grizzly then take this as a sign that they need to move onto something else.
Avoid thinking you are spoiling your baby by going to them quickly when they cry. Your baby is progressing through a very important stage in their development from now until they are around 1 year old. During this time they will learn who to trust and who will best meet their needs.