Your 32 Week Old Baby
At 8 months, your 32 week old baby is on the cusp of another big developmental leap, and the coming weeks will be demanding.
As her brain develops in preparation for upright mobility and speech, in the next month or two you will see lots of changes.
Your baby will be delighted and challenged by the world around her, and her need to be near, and be supported by, her primary carers will be increasingly obvious.
At the same time, her mobility means that as you go about your day, there’ll be a little shadow following you and getting into mischief along the way!
Like a pre-toddler, your 32 week old baby will explore her opportunities and feel frustrated by her limitations. Hang on – it could be a bumpy ride!
Feeding Your 32 Week Old Baby
Once the early days have passed and attachment issues are resolved, breastfeeding will be a relatively pain-free experience, certainly for your nipples. Even the arrival of your baby’s first couple of teeth rarely causes the pain or damage you might fear, as her tongue completely covers these sharp pearly whites while she is actively feeding.
With the eruption of the first top teeth, and a return of toe-curling pain during feeding, there’s a new, brief stage your baby will go through: biting! Many are afraid that biting signals the end of breastfeeding, and you might certainly feel it should, when your baby clamps down firmly on your tender skin. But be assured, you do not have to live with painful feeds and damaged nipples all over again. There are things you can do to reduce or eliminate being bitten on the breast.
Firstly, it helps to understand your baby is not intentionally hurting you. Those top incisors also erupt with sharp edges but there is no protection from your baby’s tongue when she feeds. You might feel the teeth sitting against, or even slightly indenting, your skin as the feed progresses. If all feeds are done in exactly the same position, then you might develop a sore spot simply from this repeated pressure. Varying the feeding position will reduce this, and giving your baby lots of hard toys and foods to chew will soon take the sharp edges off those teeth.
Intentional biting is more likely to occur when your baby is tired, frustrated, or feeling ignored at the breast. You might find she clamps down at the beginning of a feed if the flow of milk isn’t fast or slow enough for her needs. Perhaps it will happen during a feed, when she is trying to interact with you but you are engaged in conversation, or using your mobile device, or at the end of a feed when she has had enough, and is feeling playful. She has probably always done this but now, with the sharpness of newly-erupted teeth, you will definitely feel it!
You can break the pattern of behaviour. Watch for a change in the way her mouth holds the breast, how her sucking changes, or the look in her eye just before it happens, and then remove her promptly before she bites. If you are a bit slow and she bites down, a firm “NO!” and putting her on the floor or turning her away from you will show your displeasure. Try not to react in a way which might scare or amuse her; this simple message will be enough. Her short-term memory is not well-developed, so you will need to do this a few times for the message to sink in.
Some babies at this age bite reflexively on anything placed in their mouths. Try giving your baby something she can bite on, so she learns what is okay to chew on. It makes sense not to encourage biting on anything she is meant to suck on, so remove bottles, dummies and sippy cups, if you notice her chomping on those.
It takes some time for the teeth to move down through the gum, and the pressure inside is relieved by biting something firm. Keep her teething toys handy, and have a supply of chilled carrot or cucumber sticks in the fridge, or chunks of watermelon in the freezer, so you can quickly offer an alternative. She will soon get the idea.
If your baby’s teeth actually break the skin on your breast, you will have a sore spot for a few days. Treatment is the same as that for a sore or cracked nipple but do watch for signs of infection, as bites can push bacteria from your skin or baby’s mouth into the wound. Simple topical treatments from your doctor will quickly heal any infection and breastfeeding will soon be pain-free again.
Sleep and Settling
As you approach the next big developmental leap at 36 weeks, you will once again see changes in your baby’s sleep patterns. This Wonder Week period is a significant one, and sleep disruption is likely. Your 32 week old baby might be harder to settle down to sleep, or wake more often during the night. Some babies experience what appear to be nightmares or night terrors, waking screaming and in distress. Others cannot be put down for day-time naps, needing constant contact, through co-napping or babywearing, in order for them to sleep.
Your 32 week old baby will show increasing signs of separation anxiety over the coming weeks and might be distressed if anyone else holds her, even if you are right there. She might resist going down on the floor, but also resist being in your arms! All of these behaviours are typical and normal at this time, making it one of the more frustrating periods for parents and carers.
This is not the time for sleep training. Your baby is wakeful due to discomfort or pain, or because of the disturbance that comes with learning to crawl. Her rapidly growing brain needs breastmilk or formula around the clock, so her need to feed during the night is genuine. She isn’t trying to manipulate you, so comforting your baby will not spoil her. Just as she did in the early months, your 32 week old baby is growing constantly.
Play and Development
Your 32 week old baby is getting ready to write! The hand-eye coordination skills and fine-motor control she is beginning to develop will one day enable her to hold a pencil and move it from one side of a page to the other as she produces the marks we call writing! For now, she will focus on trying to pick up small items with her pincer grip – bringing her thumb and forefinger together. This simple action, which we do hundreds of times each day without thinking, is challenging to learn and refine.
Baby-Led Weaning encourages this development, as small pieces of food need to be picked up and brought to the mouth. Initially, in self-feeding, your baby will use the palm of her hand, with all fingers wrapped around pieces of food to secure them, but you will gradually see attempts to use the pincer-grip as well. Even if you have introduced solids with purees and mash, it is important to move on to finger foods by 8 months to encourage self-feeding. Blueberries, peas, rice and pasta are all excellent small foods to offer your baby. Put them on her high chair tray so she can practise these skills.
Your baby won’t restrict the experience to meal times, so be watchful for anything within her reach that she can pick up and put in her mouth! Small pieces of paper, household bits and pieces, coins and anything else she finds will end up in her mouth! While pieces of paper will do no harm, harder items pose a choking risk, so make it a habit to scan the floor area for hazards each time you put her down to play. In the garden, park or playground, watch out for seed pods and other attractive natural items! You will become skilled at scooping things out of her mouth with your finger!
Many mothers find they are more tired than they expected to be in the second six months of their babies’ lives. Although tiredness and fatigue are to be expected in the early days, you can anticipate better sleep as babies grow. Breastfeeding mothers are especially likely to wonder whether they could be getting more sleep if they weaned. Find out more in our article: Breastfeeding And Tiredness: Can Breastfeeding Make You Tired?