Your 9 Week Old Baby
You might notice your 9 week old baby begins to settle around this age.
The intensity of the crying stage is beginning to ease, the second Wonder Week has passed and she may even be sleeping longer periods and showing a predictable feeding pattern.
Your 9 week old baby now has fully developed hearing and is taking more and more interest in the world around her. She can respond a little when you talk to her and follow with her eyes a slow-moving toy when you move it in front of her.
She will be kicking her legs more and can hold onto a toy you place in her hand – or anything else she can grasp! Watch out if you have long hair – she can grab a handful and hold on tight! This reflexive grip comes from our pre-historic past, when babies would grip their mother’s chest hair to hold on. Soon she will be learning to grasp and grip with intention, as these newborn reflexes fade away.
Sleep and Settling
If your 9 week old baby is having some longer sleep periods at night, you might be noticing daytime sleep periods are shorter. This makes sense because your growing baby still needs around 8-12 breastfeeds in 24 hours, so as she consolidates night sleep into longer stretches, her day feeds might increase to compensate.
Many breastfed babies – and some formula fed ones too – seem to cat-nap during the day. A typical sleep cycle is around 40 minutes for a baby at this age, and sometimes that is all they seem to need. You can try to transition her over into another sleep cycle by soothing and patting her when she begins to stir, or popping her back on the breast to ease her back to sleep.
The late afternoon and early evening can be challenging with children of all ages, as with adults. Afternoon fatigue is familiar to most workers. “Chocolate o’clock” kicks in around 3-4pm and productivity levels fall, energy dwindles and sleepiness sets in. This is partly due to hormonal changes as your body clock changes pace, making us sleepier and beginning to think of bed.
In our modern world, bedtime is still far away due to electric lighting overruling sunset, but that doesn’t stop your body beginning a natural wind down at this time of the day. Babies also experience changes as the day draws to a close, leading to cluster feeding, crying and a need to be held. Most babies are unsettled at this time of the day – ironically referred to as the “arsenic” or “witching” hour. You can find out more get some survival ideas here: Witching Hour For Babies – 12 Tips To Help You Cope.
Play And Development
If you aren’t returning to paid work for a while, you might be wondering how you and your growing baby will fill the days as he gets older. Infant care and household chores will take up a lot of your time, but it's important for you both to also include some social and play opportunities outside the home. Social isolation is very common in new mothers, especially if most of your friends and social interaction centred around your work.
Here are a few ways you can meet other mothers as well as planting the seeds for your baby’s own first friendships:
- Local libraries and some bookstores offer regular storytime sessions, and welcome babies to take part right from birth. Simple songs and storytelling engage babies as well as toddlers and you will find your 9-week old baby will enjoy the sounds and sights. Most sessions are free and allow time for parents to mingle afterwards. Join the library while you are there and you can begin a routine of borrowing new books each time you go along.
- New mothers’ groups are organised by a variety of service providers – your local child health centre, community centre, church or breastfeeding support group are just a few possibilities. Meeting mothers whose babies are of similar age allows you to chat about the experiences you share and babies enjoy lying on the floor alongside each other while you talk. Tummy time is more interesting with another baby to look at and, as they grow, rolling and crawling as a group is great fun.
- Parks and playgrounds are popular meeting places for mothers and babies. Pop your 9 week old baby in the pram or baby carrier and walk to your nearest play space. Your 9-week old baby will love lying on a rug under branches moving in the wind and the fresh air will do you both good. If have the courage to say hello to another mama, she will probably be as keen as you are to make a new friend.
- You can combine meeting other mothers and babies with getting back into a fitness program. Once you have the all-clear from your doctor, joining a group exercise session designed for new mothers will help you gradually regain fitness and enjoy social contact as well. There are groups who do regular pram walks; babywearing fitness classes where you can use your baby as added weight-training and mother and baby yoga classes when you can work on your core and entertain your baby as you stretch. All will make you feel better physically and emotionally, making you better able to cope with the demands of your busy new life.
There are some things to be aware of. If:
- You feel you're not enjoying motherhood as much as you could
- The idea of making new friends makes you anxious
- You worry a lot about your baby’s health or safety
- You struggle to get through the day
- You find it hard to go back to sleep after settling your baby
… then it might be time to speak with a professional. Postnatal depression and anxiety affect as many as one in seven new mothers. There are ways to manage these feelings and help you feel better. Reaching out to your partner, doctor, nurse, friend or family member is the hardest step – but from there you will be supported to find the right help for you. There is no shame in postnatal depression or anxiety and these conditions do not make you a bad mother.
Find out more about getting help at PANDA in Australia or find your local support organisation elsewhere in the world here. Here are some tips which can help Prevent Postnatal Depression – 8 Tips To Help Prevent PND.