Your 13 Week Old Baby
Your 13 week old baby is becoming very social, and probably greets new faces with a broad grin.
She is discovering her voice and making the first vowel sounds – and loves when you chat back to her. She loves to see the world she lives in and you’ll enjoy introducing it to her.
This is a relatively peaceful period. If your baby is sleeping some longer stretches overnight, you might be feeling more confident and less tired now. But if night feeds are still frequent, remember to make time in your day to rest and nap when you can. Looking after yourself is an important part of looking after your baby.
Feeding Your 13 Week Old Baby
Just when you think you’ve heard every possible opinion on how you should feed your baby, along comes a new angle for those around you to give advice: when you should start your baby on solids. You may find family members are eager to start giving your 13 week old baby rice cereal (read aboout why it’s best to skip rice cereal), pureed fruit or “little tastes” of family meals when you gather. The pressure to go against the current recommendations with the all too familiar, “Well, I did and my babies were fine!” can be strong. So, what are the current recommendations and when will your baby be ready for solids?
The answer is very clear –Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), America’s Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization all recommend exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months (or ‘around’ 6 months) and then for solids to be introduced while breastfeeding continues for at least one year. If your baby is formula fed, then it’s exclusive until 6 months. After 12 months, your baby doesn’t need formula any more.
Learn the 7 Most Important Things To Know About Introducing Solids and 6 Steps To Introducing Solids… The Simple Way so you are prepared to begin… in around three months.
Meanwhile, milk continues to be everything your baby needs to grow and develop – but sometimes, babies go through a period of breast refusal. You might worry that something is wrong with your breastmilk or if your baby is weaning, but usually this is a temporary response. With a little encouragement, your baby will return to the breast. Reasons for refusal can be everything from the return of your menstrual cycle to your breast smelling different after your change your brand of deodorant. You can find out more in our article Breast Refusal – 13 Tips For A Baby That Refuses The Breast.
Your 13 week old baby might slow down their weight gain over the next couple of months. This is normal in breastfed babies. Research has shown that between four and six months, formula-fed babies tend to gain weight faster than their breastfed peers, although growth in length and head circumference were similar in both groups. Keep this in mind when talking about baby weight gains with your friends or family who have similar-age babies. It doesn’t mean your breastmilk is not ‘strong enough’ or you aren’t making enough. You can read more in our article Baby Weight Gain – What Is Normal? 5 Questions Answered.
Sleeping and Settling
Constipation is very unlikely in a healthy, breastfed baby, although changes in their bowel patterns often make parents concerned. Formula fed babies do experience constipation, and it can make them very unsettled at times. It may even cause pain.
It’s normal for a breastfed baby’s bowel motions to reduce in frequency. Your 13 week old baby may only do a poo every few days, and even once every week or two can still be normal. Because there’s so little waste in breastmilk, there are times when there just isn’t enough to pass. That doesn’t mean your baby won’t feel a little uncomfortable at times, but as long as the poo is soft when it arrives, you don’t need to be concerned about constipation. More frequent breastfeeds can help move things along.
For a baby who is fully or partly formula fed, the formula itself can often be the culprit when looking for the cause of constipation. If your baby suddenly begins to poo less frequently and the motions are hard and pellet-like, it might be related to the introduction, or change, of formula in her diet. It can take a while for the bowel to adjust to changes in the diet. You can find out more about what to look for and how to treat it in our article, Baby Constipation – Remedies and Causes.
As your baby comes to the end of the period of crying (which usually lasts around 12-16 weeks), you might be more confident in identifying the reason for her crying most of the time. Hunger, tiredness and discomfort are the usual causes of crying, but what do you do if you have fed your baby and she’s still crying? If you’re breastfeeding, this can lead to worrying about your milk supply. You might start to top-up after breastfeeds with formula or look at ways to increase your milk supply. There are many reasons why babies cry after a breastfeed – and low supply is not always the cause. Before you start to supplement, rule out all the other possibilities – you’ll be surprised how many there are. See our article, 15 Reasons Why A Baby Might Cry After A Breastfeed.
Play and Development
If you swaddle your baby for sleep, you might be concerned as she learns to roll. Many parents transition from a swaddle to a sleeping bag around this age, to minimise the danger of babies rolling onto their stomach while swaddled. Sleeping bags also allow your baby to freely move her legs, which is important for your 13 week old baby, who will increasingly add kicking to her list of things to do.
Your 13 week old baby may have already surprised you with a chuckle or giggle – if not, you can encourage her with lots of face-to-face play, funny faces and silly voices. That first laugh – like the first smile – is the start of a whole new world for your baby, and her simple sense of humour finds all sorts of things amusing!
To encourage your 13 week old toward her goal of rolling, playtime can include activities to stimulate her interest in turning to the side. As well as toys hanging above her, set up her play-space with interesting things she will turn her head to see. Bright coloured toys, board books you can stand up, musical toys and toys which move will all tempt her to turn and watch. Before she can roll onto her tummy, she needs to practice rolling onto her sides, and these activities will spark her interest in doing so.
Kicking creates great delight in babies and they put a lot of effort into it. As well as just being fun, your 13 week old baby is wiring up her brain for more complex movements, like walking in the future. Add some extra fun with bells on socks or booties, which will jingle when she kicks. Once she makes the connection she is creating this new sound, she will kick with intent to hear it more.
It’s normal for new mothers to worry about their babies. But for some women, normal concerns can develop into anxiety and begin to impact on their ability to enjoy their baby. It’s reassuring to know other mothers experience these anxieties, but knowing how to cope with them is important. Learn more in our article: Scary Thoughts? Why New Mothers Have Anxious Thoughts.