Your 15 Week Old Baby
Just when everything seems to be settling into place… it’s all about to change again. Like the calm before the storm, your 15 week old baby is getting ready to enter one of the biggest developmental stages of the first year. You might even be seeing signs of it already.
Between now and six months, your baby will be both a delight and a challenge, so enjoy the calm while it lasts – big changes are ahead! You can read more about what to expect in our article 4 Month Monsters! 6 Ways Babies Change + Survival Tips.
Feeding Your 15 Week Old Baby
As you approach four months, you can expect any predictability in your 15 week old baby’s feeding behaviour to go out the window. That gentle feed, play, sleep pattern you may have been using might be deconstructed to reappear as play, feed a little, play more, feed a tiny bit, play, go into another room, feed, fall asleep. Some feeds will be abandoned before they barely begin. Others will be cut short too soon, delayed or taken resentfully.
All of these feeding problems are baby related and are due to brain development. She has come out of her newborn ‘cone of silence', which shielded her from distractions at feed times. Now, everything is a stimulus she needs to see, assess, study and dismiss before going back on the breast. Feed sessions either stretch out to longer than those early-day feeds or may become so short, you are left to deal with your letdown, spraying milk everywhere, while your baby has moved on to more important things!
By only drinking the barest minimum needed to satisfy his hunger and thirst, your 15 week old baby (who was angelically sleeping long stretches at night, worthy of bragging of) begins to catch up feeds during the night. He still has his eight feed minimum to get on the clock, and has no qualms about turning calmer nighttime feeds into leisurely three course meals — while you both try to sleep. Nighttime feeding is important though – here are 8 reasons why nighttime feeding is so important.
Your breasts continue to make enough breastmilk by getting feedback from your baby. Delayed and interrupted feeds, cluster feeds and extra feeds at night are all in a day’s work for your breasts – you don’t need to do anything to help them manage. Your baby will make sure she gets all the milk she needs throughout the 24 hours, as long as you do not restrict or reduce her access to the breast. If you got used to longer stretches of sleep at night, it’s normal to resent a return to frequent feeds, a fractious baby or one who will only sleep attached to the breast. But these are all part of this big development stage and will ease at a later time.
Your formula fed baby might show some of these same behaviours – fussy bottle feeding, interrupted sucking to see what's going on and dragging out feeding to accommodate. These things all add up to longer feed times. You might be tempted to prop your baby’s bottle so she can see what is going one while she feeds, but this can be really dangerous as a choking hazard and also limits your ability to get feedback about needing to rest or feeling discomfort. It’s important to always hold your 15 week old baby when she feeds. It's a wonderful time to bond with your baby as you gaze into her eyes – until she spots something more interesting!
Sleep and Settling
If you haven’t yet embraced the convenience of co-sleeping or bed-sharing, four months is a peak time for starting. As you may guess, at this time, parents tend to have a desperate need to get as much sleep as possible. It’s not unusual for a baby who is distracted during the day to wake 4-6 times overnight to catch up, so sleeping with your baby makes a lot of sense. Disrupted sleeping patterns and the inability to easily fall back to sleep are not signs of a feeding problem in your 15 week old baby. These are developmental disruptions and are common from 4-6 months. You’ll find what has always worked before might not do the trick, and new settling tricks need to be added to your toolbox.
White noise can be helpful to ease a baby into sleep by screening out other interesting sounds she might lock her focus on. You can create white noise with a fan in her room, a nearby washer, dryer or vacuum cleaner – or an app on your mobile device which reproduces these sounds. You can run it on a loop!
Your usual wind down routine might start to overstimulate your 15 week old baby. Breaking it into smaller segments or slowing it down and stretching it over a longer timeframe might be helpful. A feed followed by bath, massage, story, feed and bed – all in dim surroundings with zero external stimulus from screens or unnecessary voices will help calm your baby’s brain ready for sleep.
If you normally sing your baby to sleep, you might need to modify the song to one which is rhythmic and slow. Bouncing on a fit ball might now be too stimulating, so rocking in arms could be a calmer option. A walk around the streets in the stroller will be too entertaining, so a walk in the hall can replace it for now. The goal is to minimise the stream of new information coming in at bedtime, which your 15 week old’s overactive brain will feel compelled to process. This is a short phase, and a more settled period should return at around 6-8 months, before another developmental disturbance hits.
Play and Development
Because your 15 week old baby is unable to filter out stimulation, it’s important to monitor how she is coping with so much input. Many parents interpret their baby’s interest as a need for constant stimulation, but it’s very important you balance these activities with ‘white space' for the brain. So short sessions, followed by periods of calm reflection in a known environment will be better than long hours of constant noise and movement for your baby to process.
If your baby hasn’t shown signs of dribbling or drooling yet, it won’t be far away. There are lots of old wives tales about this stage — drooling being due to teething is the most popular myth. The reality is, as your baby continues preparing for solids in a couple of months, it’s time to increase saliva production. As saliva is an important part of the digestive process, learning how to manage it is an important step for your baby. And the first step is learning to keep your mouth shut and swallow when you have a mouthful – both being harder than you think. So, dribbling is simply what happens when your newly-salivating baby can’t keep his mouth closed and it’s full of saliva – it falls out.
A dribbling baby is normal and nothing to worry about. You might find she gets a bit of a dribble rash on or under her chin, due to the constant wetness. Gentle wiping and keeping skin folds dry will help. You can apply a thin layer of whatever you already use as a barrier cream in the nappy area and make sure you change bibs frequently – now you know why you were given so many as shower gifts!
Your 15 week old baby loves to see the world around her, and babywearing is a great way to help her do this. But it’s important to follow the T.I.C.K.S. safety guidelines to make sure you're carrying your baby safely and comfortably. Find out more in our article: 4 Babywearing Safety Tips – Keeping Baby Visible and Kissable!