Just when everything seems to be settling into place, it’s all about to change again. Perhaps you’ll remember some of the parenting advice you were given. Now is 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.
Between now and six months, as your baby grows, she will be both a delight and a challenge, so enjoy the calm while it lasts. Some 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 should know that any ‘predictability’ in your 15 week old baby’s feeding behavior will probably go out the window.
The gentle ‘feed-play-sleep’ pattern you might have been following might be deconstructed to reappear as ‘play, feed a little, play more, feed a tiny bit, play, go into another room, feed and fall asleep’.
Some feeds will be abandoned before they’ve barely begun. Others will be cut short too soon, delayed, or taken resentfully.
Find out more about this in our article Why The Feed-Play-Sleep Routine Doesn’t Work For Breastfed Babies.
All of these feeding problems are baby-related and are due to brain development. Your baby has come out of her newborn ‘cone of silence’, which shielded her from distractions at feed times.
Now, everything is a stimulus to baby’s vision. She will assess, study and dismiss before going back on the breast. Feed sessions might stretch out to last longer than those early-day feeds. They might also 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 drinking the barest minimum needed to satisfy her hunger and thirst, your 15 week old baby, who was angelically sleeping long stretches at night (worthy of bragging about) now begins to catch up feeds during the night.
She still has her eight feed minimum to fit in, and has no qualms about turning calmer nighttime feeds into leisurely three course meals, while you both try to sleep.
Find out more in our article Nighttime Breastfeeding – 7 Reasons Why It’s So Important.
Your breasts continue to make enough breast milk 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 breast milk she needs in a 24 hour period, as long as you do not restrict or reduce her access to breastfeeding. If you were getting 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 while attached to the breast.
These are all part of this important stage of baby’s development and, for most babies, will get easier later on.
Your 15 week formula fed baby
Your 15 week formula fed baby might show some of these same behaviors – fussy bottle feeding, interrupted sucking to see what’s going on, and dragging out feeding to accommodate distractions. These things all add up to longer feed times.
You might be tempted to prop up your baby’s bottle so she can see what is going one while she feeds. This can be a really dangerous choking hazard, though, and also limits your ability to get feedback about your baby’s need to rest or her discomfort.
It’s important always to hold your 15 week old baby when she feeds. It’s a wonderful time to bond with your baby as she gazes into your eyes – at least until she spots something more interesting.
Tummy time and baby’s development
We know Tummy Time is important for mitigating head molding; it also helps to build neck muscles.
Your baby might try to move forward on her tummy or try for a mini baby roll. Either way, like most babies, she’ll love time on her belly.
Watch for any signs she might feel uncomfortable and has had enough tummy time. Usually, it’s because your little one is ready for breastfeeding or a sleep.
Sleep patterns – 15 week old baby
If you haven’t yet embraced the convenience of co-sleeping or bed-sharing, four months is the peak time for starting. At this time, as you might guess, 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 sleep patterns and the inability to fall back to sleep easily 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 worked well the previous week might not do the trick, and you’ll need to add new settling tricks to your toolbox.
Read more in How Many Hours Of Sleep Does A Baby Need?
White noise can be helpful to ease a baby into deep sleep cycles, by screening out other interesting sounds she might focus on. You can create white noise with a fan in her room, a sound machine, a nearby washer, dryer, or vacuum cleaner. There’s even an app for your mobile device that reproduces these sounds. You can run it on a loop.
Babies’ sleep and settling
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 time frame might be helpful.
Try a feed followed by bath, massage, story, feed, and bed. Do this in dim surroundings with zero external stimulus from screens or unnecessary voices; it 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 slow and rhythmic. Bouncing on a fit ball might be too stimulating, so rocking her in your arms could be a more calming option. A walk around the streets in the stroller will be too entertaining; a walk in the hallway can replace it for now.
Your 15 week old’s overactive brain will feel compelled to process the stream of new information coming in at bedtime. Your goal is to minimize it. This is a short phase and a more settled period should return at around 6-8 months, before another developmental disturbance hits.
You might be interested in BellyBelly’s article Does My Baby Need To Learn To Self Soothe?
Play and baby 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.
Short sessions of stimulation, followed by periods of calm reflection in a familiar environment will be better than long hours of constant noise and movement for your baby to process.
Your 15 week old baby loves to see the world around her, and baby wearing is a great way to help her do this. It’s important, though, to follow safety guidelines and 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!
15 weeks – notice baby dribbling
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 is 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. Because saliva is an important part of the digestive process, learning how to manage it is an important process for your baby.
The first step is learning to keep her mouth shut and swallow when she has a mouthful. This is a lot harder than you think.
Dribbling is simply what happens when your newly-salivating baby can’t keep her mouth closed when it’s full of saliva. Result: it runs out.
Dribbling is normal in baby’s development and is 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.
Gently 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. Make sure you also change bibs frequently; now you know why you were given so many as shower gifts.
It is possible your baby is teething. Most babies will dribble quite excessively when teething and you will definitely notice the little nubs on the gums. Some babies develop a low grade fever when teething; this usually settles. If you are concerned, contact a medical professional.
Find out more in our article Teething Symptoms | 9 Signs Baby Is Teething.