Congratulations! You've passed the one month stage and the business of caring for your baby is likely to be getting a little easier. Some parents refer to the baby's age by the weeks; others by the month. It doesn't really matter either way, but weeks tend to be more precise.
You could find that there is starting to be a little more predictability in your days and nights. Your baby still won't be in a set routine – that won't come for a few more weeks – but there will be a pattern to how your life is flowing. This can make planning a little easier, not to mention being able to fit in some extra jobs that are demanding your attention. Remember that your priority needs to be yourself and your baby.
Some mothers are able to leave non-urgent matters for later; others are very task-focused and see each day as an opportunity to complete lots of different jobs. Often, our training, personalities and professional lives have a major influence on how we approach our parenting.
Whichever way you view these early weeks, remind yourself that they pass very quickly. Housework can and will wait for you or someone else to do. Your baby will only be 5 weeks old for 7 days, so make the most of this special time.
Your baby may or may not be sleeping between most of its feeds. Expect a couple of unsettled, wakeful periods each day when your baby finds it hard to calm down.
Always remember to place your baby on their back while they sleep and use a cotton wrap to help stabilise them. If it is hot, you may find your baby only needs a nappy and babygro on underneath its wrap. If it is cold, avoid overheating by feeling your baby's back – between their shoulders and the back of the neck – to gauge their temperature.
If your baby has slept well until now, try not to see this as a guarantee that they will always sleep well. Babies change their sleeping behaviours constantly and sleep will often reflect other things going on in their life (e. g. reaching a new developmental stage, changes in environment, feeding or their overall routine). Don't let this erode your confidence. Parenting is a constant process of learning and adaptation.
Behaviour and Development
Your baby may be starting to smile this week and may even try to fix and focus their eyes on your face. The best time to look for smiles is in the morning when your baby first wakes, or after they have been fed. Talk gently to them and get up close. Your baby's vision is still immature and won't become clear until around 6 months of age.
Don't forget to give your baby supervised tummy time each day. Place some toys around, especially those that feature black, white and red. You'll probably find your baby responds more readily to these hues.
Take lots of photos of this special age. You'll be amazed when you look back on how small your baby was.
Remember to involve your older children as much as possible. Sibling relationships are built on time, exposure and lots of interaction. You can't force your toddler to connect with their new sibling. Have trust that this will come naturally.
Lots of babies seem to find their lungs between 5 and 6 weeks, and don't find the off switch until close to 12 weeks. There are lots of reasons put forward as to why babies cry. A popular theory is that they are feeling overwhelmed by everything around them. This being the only way that they are able to communicate, combined with overtiredness, is probably the major reason for their cries.
If you find it challenging to hear your baby cry, you are not alone. Your baby's cry is uniquely designed to be uncomfortable for you to hear. You are not meant to ignore it, so don't try to. Your baby is too young to change their behaviour.
Research has shown that babies cry less, and for shorter periods overall, when their parents respond promptly to them.
If it is summer and the weather is hot, don't be afraid to bath your baby a couple of times each day. Bathing is a great way of cooling off a hot, temperamental baby and can fill in the time between feeds and sleeps. Use a soft, emollient bath wash that is less likely to dry out your baby's skin.
If you have noticed cradle cap on your baby's scalp, make a point of washing their hair more often. Try using a small amount of baby shampoo or bath wash, lather gently over their scalp and then rinse it off thoroughly.
You can soften the crusts of cradle cap with some olive, almond or vegetable oil, which has been gently massaged.
Don't be frightened of doing any damage to your baby's soft spot or anterior fontanelle (the soft spot at the top of their heads). As long as you are gentle and don't apply too much pressure, you won't do any harm.
Try to get outside every couple of days. Although it may be tempting to just stay in the house, it is important that you maintain some contact with the outside world. Humans are social creatures and new mothers are not meant to be isolated. Make a point of having some contact with a friend, a sister or someone you connect with this week.
If there is an older sibling, take your toddler and your baby to the park for a run around. You may want to consider visiting little friend's place for a play date.
Don't be too worried if you're feeling teary this week. Your hormones will still be stabilising from your pregnancy and it is common for new mothers to have mood swings.
Unless you have no appetite, you are having trouble sleeping, or you are experiencing constant anxiety or sadness, reassure yourself that some variation in mood is completely normal.
Your Physical Recovery
You'll almost be feeling back to your old self by now. You should have recovered fully from the birth, even if your weight is still not back to its normal range. This can take up to 12 months, and now is not the time to be cutting back on your eating.
If you are breastfeeding, you may find that you are permanently hungry and crave sweet foods. Try to fill your body with a wide range of healthy, energy sustaining foods that will help to nurture your body and your baby.