8 Week Old Baby

Your baby is just at the end of his/her 2nd month, a time full of development and changes. You will be closer to establishing a routine now and have worked out what is realistic for you as a family and what isn’t. Small little rituals such as bringing your baby into bed with you for a cuddle in the mornings, daddy being in charge of bathing etc.

Try not to compare what you are doing with others. Although you may not always feel 100% confident with what you are up to, your baby won’t mind. Their needs are still very basic at this early stage and you’ll find as long as they are not hungry, get enough sleep and have regular nappy changes they will be fairly content. The best thing you can do to care for your baby is to look after yourself. Remember to eat 3 meals a day and snack in-between, drink plenty of pap and water and aim to have a rest during the day to make up for broken sleep overnight.

Feeding

Expect your baby to still need at least 6 feeds/24 hours at 8 weeks. Many babies go through a growth spurt at this age and demand to be fed more frequently. If you are breastfeeding, you may find your baby wants to eat alot in the late afternoons and evenings, making you doubt if you have enough milk for them. As long as your baby is growing well, feel reassured that your lactation is sufficient for their needs.

If you are bottle feeding, your baby may finish their bottle and still be looking for more. Speak with your nurse about the correct quota of milk for your baby’s age and weight. Remember not to alter the ratio of formula powder to scoops of water. If your baby needs more formula, continue to make it up as directed on the can. Throw away whatever milk your baby does not finish in each feed.

Sleeping

Some babies are sleepier than others and follow a regular, predictable routine of sleep. Others are more alert and seem to resist all their parent’s attempts to get them to go to sleep. We cannot control our children’s sleep, when they go to sleep or even how long they sleep for. What is under our control though, are our responses to their sleep and settling.

It can be worthwhile, even in these early stages to try to place your baby into their cot awake so that they learn how to go off to sleep on their own. Babies who are always asleep when they go into their cots don’t learn the skills involved in self settling. They become dependent on their parent’s help to get them off to sleep and then expect the same process or prompts each time they want to sleep.

 

Behaviour and development

Your baby will be holding their hands together now, but their movements will still be a little random and flinging. They won’t be able to hold a rattle just yet but that time isn’t too far away. Your baby will be loosing their grasp reflex by 8 weeks and this will soon be replaced by a deliberate grab and hold.

Lots of smiles, coos, eye contact and mouthing movements from your baby this week, especially when you are up close and talking to them. Your loving, positive stimulation will help your baby to develop their social skills and remind them that they are part of a human group. If you have older children, encourage them to talk to the baby and involve them in gentle play. Your baby will love the interaction with their siblings and through your own care giving; your older children will learn what’s involved in nurturing and caring for young babies.

Get down onto the floor yourself and position some toys around so they can lift their head and focus on them. Babies of this age don’t have good vision but are drawn to contrasts. Toys with black, white and red as their primary colours will be clearer to your baby.
Consider getting a baby gym – an ideal toy for this age group. Set up a little play area. Make sure it is still in a clearly visible place for you to keep an eye on your baby.

Crying

Your baby may be a little more unsettled this week, prone to fits of crying and distress. It can be hard to settle babies of this age, who, because of their crying can easily become overtired and hard to soothe. You are likely to find their crying peaks in the mid-morning or in the late afternoons.

 

Routine

Your days are still probably dictated by your baby’s demands, leaving you little time for much else. If you have always prided yourself on a clean and organised house, this may be a challenging time for you. There can seem to be no end to the list of jobs which need doing and each day seems much like a template of the ones that have gone before. As exciting as it is, young baby care can become very tedious and wearing. This is why it is so important to try to do something a little different every couple of days.

Although you may not have much energy, try to go for a walk-even if it is to the local shops around. Housework does have the tendency to eclipse real life, which is why it is so important to keep it all in perspective.

If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed by the mess in the house, make a decision about one or two rooms which really matter to you. This may be the bedroom and the kitchen, the bathroom and the living room. Aim to focus just on them and work on establishing a little order. This is a much more realistic and reasonable goal than aiming to have the whole house pristine.

What you can expect

This is the week when your baby will be due for the first of their post-birth vaccinations. These are available for free at your community health centres.

Don’t forget to take your baby’s personal health record book so that their vaccination can be recorded. They will include a reminder for when the next one is due.

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