Your 36 Week Old Baby
Crawling on hands and knees, commando-style, or shuffling along on his bottom, your 36 week old baby is likely to be on the move!
Once they get the idea, crawling babies love their increased mobility and can cover a lot of ground quickly. And when they aren’t crawling, they are sitting up and watching the world go by. Both sitting and crawling give your baby a whole new perspective on life and he will be enjoying new experiences every day.
But your 36 week old baby is also about to reach another developmental leap, and sometimes finds his world confusing and overwhelming, so he needs to touch base with you a lot.
In the midst of teething, major physical achievements, and a leap in brain development, your 36 week old baby has a lot going on. You can expect some big changes over the coming weeks, as your baby evolves and adapts to his new abilities.
Feeding Your 36 Week Old Baby
Many babies around this age begin to exhibit food preferences, likes and dislikes. This can be frustrating if your baby has enjoyed a wide range of tastes and textures in the first stage of eating solids.
There are several reasons why most babies go through this normal stage, around 8-10 months:
- Your baby enjoyed the novelty of eating foods to begin with but like anything else, once novelty becomes routine, interest and enthusiasm can wane.
- Teething babies often have tender gums and simply don’t feel like eating harder foods, or those that need chewing.
- Physical growth slows down in the second half-year, and your baby will go through periods when his appetite decreases accordingly. At other times, appetite picks up due to a growth spurt.
- Babies of this age are busy: stopping to eat food might not be a priority over moving and exploring.
- Milk – breast or formula – continues to be the main food source until around 12 months.
Remembering that ‘Parents Provide, Children Decide‘ is a good way to keep things in perspective. Your job is to make a range of food available to eat throughout the day. Your baby will choose what and how much he feels like eating. A healthy, developing baby will not go hungry. Offering him opportunities to eat – both solids and milk feeds – means he will eat what he wishes, when he needs to. You are not encouraging poor eating habits by not insisting he eats: rather, you are encouraging healthy eating habits based on eating to appetite.
Sleep and Settling
As your baby approaches Leap 6, he will be experiencing sleep disruption again. You might also find it harder to settle or resettle him after waking. While night-times are particularly demanding, day-time sleep is also affected and presents extra challenges. Many parents use co-sleeping to manage night-time parenting, and breastfeeding mothers will often use safe bed-sharing practices to help everyone get better sleep. During the day, it isn’t always practical to co-nap with your baby after breastfeeding to sleep, and bottle fed babies don’t always drift off to sleep after feeding, as they did when they were younger. A tired baby with a full tummy who cannot settle can be a miserable baby.
Movement is often the solution to helping babies settle for day-time sleep. Babies naturally become sleepy when they feel rhythmic movement – such as in a baby carrier, pram or moving car. Although many parenting books might caution against allowing babies to nap anywhere other than their cot in a darkened room, for many families ‘junk sleep‘ is the reality of how their babies nap. Sleep is sleep, and if your baby wakes refreshed and rested after a nap wherever he is, then do what works best for him.
A baby who needs the familiar routine of sleeping in his own bed will do better if you can reproduce the bedtime routine, as much as possible, at nap time. While you will probably skip the bath, giving a feed, and putting on his sleeping bag, followed by a story and a quiet cuddle before sleep might do the trick. White noise, sleep music, or other aids you use in the evening can work just as well during the day.
Remembering most babies consolidate their day-time sleep into two naps around this age can also help. Adjusting to this change will take time and your baby might resist opportunities to sleep when he doesn’t feel ready – even if he later falls asleep over dinner! Sometimes, you just need to go with the flow until a new pattern emerges and you can fit your routine around that.
If your baby is just not falling asleep, sometimes it is best to stop trying, and offer a chance to play instead. You can try again a little later and your baby might feel tired enough to settle. Or he might just fall asleep as he plays – a little junk sleep on the floor could be just what he needs!
Play and Development
Your baby spends a lot of floor time moving repeatedly between sitting and crawling, in what can look like random movements. Don’t be fooled: your 36 week old baby is in training for his next big challenges: standing and walking. That constant movement on the floor – sitting, crawling, sitting again – not only allows him to play and explore but is also giving the muscles of his abdomen, lower back, hips and thighs a great workout.
As the central nervous system continues its steady development down from the brain, the final destination is in sight. The nerves which will control the ability to stand unsupported and walk independently in coming months are rapidly wiring up a control system for the most complex abilities of all. And to make that system function, strong muscles need to be prepared.
Your 36 week old baby needs as much floor-based playtime as possible to achieve this. Time spent in strollers, highchairs and other passive sitting should be limited only to transport, feeding etc. While your baby might enjoy activity centres and other toys which allow him to stand supported, they do not allow the natural development of the muscles needed for walking, and overuse can actually delay this. Instead, offer your baby toys on the floor which encourage crawling and sitting: balls and other rolling toys, things with wheels to push and pull, play tunnels etc.
Once your baby is pulling himself up to stand, a solid trolley or other wheeled toy he can push will provide support as he begins supported walking, but even these should not replace opportunities to cruise around furniture and other supports. Sideways walking with support precedes forward walking and develops muscles in different ways. You don’t need to teach your baby to walk or do anything to encourage it: the drive to be upright and walking is primal.
If your 36 week old baby is constantly babbling away, you might wonder when he might utter his first real word. Do you need to be teaching him to speak or will it happen by itself? What will he say – and who will he name first: “mama” or “dada”? Find out about all this in our article: When Do Babies Start Talking? 9 Tips To Get Baby Talking.