Your 31 Week Old Baby
Your 31 week old baby has the world opening up before her.
As she begins to sit, then crawl, she sees life from new angles and there is a lot to explore.
As she adjusts to her new levels of mobility, lots of learning is happening, and you might find her studying things thoughtfully at times.
Your 31 week old baby will learn that sitting up under the coffee table bumps her head, and crawling behind the couch leaves her stuck if she can’t crawl backwards!
She is making lots of new sounds, and enjoys hearing you read stories with funny voices – even if you feel a bit silly making them.
But all this growth and development place extra demands on her body and brain, and you can expect some extra night waking, fussiness and separation anxiety, as she works it all out. It’s a good thing she’s cute!
Feeding Your 31 Week Old Baby
If you are working and breastfeeding, you might be wondering whether you can cut down on pumping now your baby is beginning to eat solids. It can be demanding to make time to pump during your working day, and it’s tempting to drop a session or cut back on the time you spend away from your work.
If breastfeeding until at least 12 months is your goal, then it is important to maintain your milk supply by expressing regularly when you are away from your baby. Because milk continues to be the primary food source for the full first year, solids will supplement milk feeds, not replace them. This means you can expect to pump and feed at about the same frequency.
Formula fed babies will be weaned from the bottle at twelve months, so you will progressively drop bottle feeds and replace them with alternatives. While breastmilk continues to be important in a baby’s diet into the second year and beyond, formula is not considered necessary after 12 months. Even toddler formula has no benefits over a balanced diet for children of that age.
At this stage, if you have no plans as to when you will wean from the breast, you can continue to follow your baby’s lead and be confident your supply will meet her needs as it has done until now. If you plan to wean at around 12 months, you can begin that process closer to the time and won’t need to do anything differently right now.
However you feed, it is still important to offer milk before solids, to be sure your baby gets all she needs from the breast or bottle before you offer other foods. Only breastmilk, or formula, offers the complete nutrition babies rely on.
Sleep and Settling
The combination of teething, developmental leaps and increasing mobility might be taking a toll on sleep – yours and your baby’s! Disrupted nights, demanding days, and a growing baby to chase and carry are all reasons you could be feeling extra tired right now. You might be wondering about sleep training or other ways of reducing your baby’s waking at night. Others might be telling you it’s wrong for your baby to wake so often or that you shouldn’t be breastfeeding so often during the night.
It helps to remember there are reasons why your baby is waking at night. Babies want to breastfeed because they have woken up due to discomfort, or perhaps their sleep has been disrupted by movement outside their control. Your baby is probably just as unhappy to be awake as you are, and is looking for a quick way to soothe pain, relax and gently fall asleep again. Breastfeeding meets all of these needs and also helps you go back to sleep quickly because of the hormones released when you breastfeed.
Finding ways to minimise the disruption will help you all get back to sleep as quickly as possible. If you use nappies (diapers) designed to cope with heavy night wetting, you might not need to change your baby every time she wakes. This means a shorter time awake, and you can also keep the lights lowered so you don’t fully wake.
If your 31 week old baby sleeps in your room, with her cot close to your bed, you won’t need to walk through the house, and if you are comfortable breastfeeding lying down, you can both rest while you feed. If safe bed-sharing isn’t possible for you, then ask your partner to stay awake while you feed lying down, and to wake you or set an alarm on your phone to wake you after a typical feed length. Some families set up a ‘side-car' cot alongside the bed, so the baby can be safely moved away from the adult bed with minimal disruption after feeding.
Play and Development
By now, your 31 week old baby is probably sitting independently. The central nervous system develops from the head down and has now reached the level of her lower back, allowing her to sit with her spine upright. She will be working on moving herself from lying down into a seated position, as well as starting to crawl. All this makes for a lot of muscle development!
Those chubby hips and thighs are becoming stronger in readiness for the next big progression – standing! You might already see signs of your 31 week old baby trying to pull herself into a standing position, and giving her arms a workout too! She can probably support her weight in a standing position while you hold her, but it will be a while before she can stand and balance on her own.
Your independently sitting baby will love her different perspective on the world. Some babies love sitting so much, they work out how to move around while they do so! Bottom-shuffling is a variation on crawling for some babies, or a useful addition to it for others. Although slower than other forms of movement, bottom-shuffling allows babies to carry things while they move, and you might find your baby moving things around the room.
Bottom-shuffling tends to run in families and these babies often sit earlier than average and dislike tummy time. Although traditional crawling, or creeping, on hands and knees is recognised for its importance in brain development, there is conflicting opinion about whether babies who skip crawling or find other ways to move before they walk are missing a vital milestone. It is important to remember these babies can incorporate crawling into play after they achieve walking, especially if you offer fun activities like play tunnels, or chairs lined up in a row to crawl through.
It is the cross-body action of crawling that’s important, as both the left and right sides of the brain are engaged at once. You might find your bottom-shuffling baby will crawl up stairs quite happily if you supervise her, or she will try to crawl when confronted with a slope in the playground or baby-gym. Giving your baby lots of opportunities for floor time rather than always sitting her up to play will help her explore different ways of moving.
It can be a bit of a shock to find yourself more tired now than you were in the early days after your baby was born. With less support and understanding from family and friends once the newborn period is over, and with the added demands of being back at work, finding ways to catch up on sleep, or even rest, can be harder at this stage of your baby’s life. Here are some ideas you might like to try: 6 Things To Do When You Need More Sleep.