Your 11 Week Old Baby
Your 11 week old baby is growing up so quickly! You're probably settling into life as a mother by now. You might even be thinking about your return to paid work – depending on where you live and how much paid parental leave available in your country.
In Australia, mothers receive 18 weeks paid parental leave, so this is a good time to start planning and preparing for it. If you live in the US, the reality is you may already be back at work due to no paid parental leave guarantee. Find out more about breastfeeding and returning to work and see our article, Going Back To Work – 5 Tips For A Smooth Transition.
As your baby approaches the three month milestone, you’ll begin to see a more mature infant than the newborn you birthed. She has grown rapidly, laying down fat stores and growing her brain – both in preparation for what's coming up next. Her hands are no longer clenched in a fist and she might even have worked out how to get her fingers in her mouth!
Feeding Your 11 Week Old Baby
If you’re fully breastfeeding your baby, you will be spending much less time feeding than in the early days. Your 11 week old baby is more efficient now, and sometimes feeds might only take 5-10 minutes. You might find she now wants both breasts at each feed, but continue letting her stay on the first side as long as she wants, offering the second once she shows signs of being dissatisfied with the flow.
Never be fooled into thinking the breast is empty though – there’s always more milk there. But as she feeds, the milk becomes creamier and flows slowly, which an impatient baby often can’t be bothered working for. Swap to the other breast and she will show appreciation as the flow is faster again. When she is really growing fast, she might even come back to the first side again – to get the rest of that high calorie, rich and creamy milk, still waiting for her.
By 3 months of age, more than 60% of Australian babies are partially or fully formula fed. The move from breast to bottle may have been part of your plan from the start, or you might have sadly made this change due to overwhelming problems with breastfeeding. While most breastfeeding issues can be overcome, to do so you need good support and access to health professionals who are well-trained in modern breastfeeding management.
Some mothers have little or no support to breastfeed from family and friends, or feel their occupation or workplace would make it very hard to continue once back at work. If you’ve stopped breastfeeding earlier than you hoped, it’s normal to feel disappointed, resentful or even angry about the circumstances which led to that happening. You may even experience post-weaning depression.
Constantly seeing breastfeeding information can be hard when you feel you did everything you could to reach your goal to fully breastfeed your baby. The purpose of articles about breastfeeding is to support women who are – or hope to be – breastfeeding. They aren’t intended to judge those who made the decision not to begin or continue to breastfeed. Read why these articles are so important here: Why There Are (A Lot) More Breastfeeding Articles Than Formula Articles.
Sleeping & Settling
As she approaches three months, your 11 week old baby might begin to show signs of her developing circadian rhythm: the control system which regulates sleep and wake in response to day and night. Up until now, your baby has been unregulated by hormones like melatonin, which causes sleepiness when the day comes to an end. In the womb, she shared your hormones and your circadian rhythm by proxy. Once she was born, she was able to feed and sleep freely, without any input from her body clock, which probably ensured she would wake when needed to feed, maintaining milk production and fueling her rapidly growing body. It will be at least two years before she has a mature circadian rhythm.
You can read more about this period in our article, Baby Has Night And Day Mixed Up? Here’s What To Do.
Most babies will still be feeding during the night – very few are actually sleeping through at this age, despite what you might be told. See our article, 8 Reasons Why Nighttime Breastfeeding Is So Important.
If you’re mixed feeding, you might be tempted to increase formula at bedtime to get a longer stretch of sleep, or perhaps your partner is giving formula during the night to allow you some extra sleep. It’s really important to always follow the directions when it comes to mixing formula – don’t be tempted to add an extra scoop or some rice cereal to baby’s bottle to make her sleep longer. Modern formula does not need anything added – it’s already a complete food unlike the mixtures your mother or grandmother might remember. Read more in our article: 7 Things To Avoid Putting In Your Baby’s Bottle.
If your 11 week old baby is sleeping for longer stretches at night, enjoy it for now, because there are several developmental stages ahead which disrupt sleep. Brain development, mobility and teething all mean interrupted sleep will continue to occur, and what are sometimes called “sleep regressions” occur when a baby hits one of these stages after previously sleeping longer. These are normal stages and do not mean your baby isn’t getting enough milk. But they do mean your baby may want to feed when they have woken due to other reasons. Those extra feeds will help fuel the rapid development your baby is going through, as well as soothe and settle her.
Play & Development
Your 11 week old baby is starting to make some regular sounds now, and will continue to be interested when you speak to him. If you’ve made storytime a regular part of your day, he will enjoy the rhythm of words in simple stories. Nursery rhymes have been acknowledged for their value in helping children learn to read, with several studies supporting their importance in children’s pre-literacy learning. You might not remember all the words, but a quick visit to your local library will set you up with a reading list to share. Choosing books with bright illustrations will visually stimulate your baby as well.
As your 11 week old baby works more and more on her goal to make intentional contact with the toys on her mobile or play gym, you can help by centering those toys over her chest, rather than eye level. This make it easier for her hands to connect as she waves them in front of her. Check they aren’t higher than arm length away from her body, so she actually can reach them. As with any toys, never leave your baby unsupervised while she plays with such toys, and stop the session when she shows signs of boredom, frustration or fatigue. Find out how to identify four important baby cues.
Babies growth, as measured by weight, is a cause of great worry for many mothers. Regular visits to your nurse or doctor can feel like you’re taking an exam – and the numbers on the scale determine if you pass or fail. Yet, the majority of babies grow normally, and obesity in children and adults is a much greater risk for this generation than failure to thrive as infants. So what is normal and when should you really worry? Find out more in our article, Baby Weight Gain – What's Normal? 5 Questions Answered.