Your 35 Week Old Baby
Your 35 week old baby is approaching nine months, and you will start to see signs she is once again changing and evolving.
Her confidence in mobility means she not only seeks you out but, increasingly, you have to seek her out! Your days of sitting on the park bench watching her play on her rug are limited!
Your 35 week old baby’s chatter is getting more organised as she practises her sounds and discovers new ones. Her understanding of words is greater than her ability to speak – she now recognises familiar toys by name.
Her teddy, ball, blanket and cup will all be familiar words now and she will turn to look for them when you name them. Babies who have been learning baby sign language have a few signs they use well now – especially the most popular of all: “MILK!”
You will find verbal communication between you is more conversation-like, as your 35 week old baby chatters back in response to your words. While most of her sounds are meaningless to you, she has embraced the back and forth flow of talking and is building the structures for speech.
Feeding Your 35 Week Old Baby
Some breastfed babies dramatically change their feeding behaviour again around this age. Just as they often do around four months, when many developmental changes occur at once, babies around 8-10 months can also go through distracted feeding or breast refusal – also known as a nursing strike.
It is not uncommon for parents to identify this disinterest, or refusal, at the breast as self-weaning by the breastfed baby. In the past, mothers were often directed to wean at or before nine months and sometimes this message is still passed on by grandmothers and others. However, continued breastfeeding is recommended until at least 12 months (NHMRC Australian Dietary Guidelines), or until two years and beyond (World Health Organization guidelines), so why would babies be weaning themselves so early?
The answer is: they aren’t. Self-weaning is very unlikely in babies under 18-24 months. Weaning is a gradual process that occurs as independence grows. When a child self-weans, it is something that takes months of transition, and not something that happens abruptly.
What can occur around this age is a lessened interest in day-time feeds. This can be due to your 35 week old baby being distracted by other activities, eating solids in addition to breastfeeds, having a natural preference for short day time feeds and leisurely night-time feeds, or due to changed feeding cues as your baby becomes verbal and mobile.
If you are concerned your baby is going through a nursing strike, or refusing the breast, there are things you can do other than accept this as the end of your breastfeeding relationship. Your IBCLC lactation consultant or breastfeeding counsellor will be able to help you work through this stage. Find out more in our article: Breast Refusal – 13 Tips For A Baby That Refuses The Breast.
Sleeping and Settling
Around nine months, what is sometimes referred to as a ‘sleep regression’ occurs. This term can be misleading, as it implies your baby had previously reached an accepted level of uninterrupted night-time sleep, but has taken a backward step in the journey towards the parental goal of ‘sleeping through’.
The reality is, infant sleep patterns fluctuate in response to developmental changes throughout the early years. Most parents observe increased waking around key Wonder Weeks: Leap Four (around 19 weeks), Leap Five (around 26 weeks) and Leap Six (around 37 weeks) tend to coincide with physical milestones like teething, rolling, crawling and standing, which also disrupt sleep.
Night-time parenting is especially demanding when your baby is not quickly soothed by your usual methods. If you are breastfeeding, you might feel your baby is permanently attached throughout the night. Other parents spend many hours offering bottles or dummies, rocking or settling their baby repeatedly when she wakes.
If your 35 week old baby has been sleeping for longer periods, you might resent this increased need for parent support during the night – especially if you had been enjoying ‘sleeping through the night’. You might be considering gentle alternatives to sleep training or even controlled crying or cry it out approaches.
Understanding why your baby is waking more often, or having trouble settling back to sleep without your support, might help you accept this temporary change. As your baby moves through this developmental period and adapts, you should be able to look forward to a more settled period – until the next Leap!
Play and Development
Around nine months, babies develop what is known as ‘object permanence’. Until then, out of sight is literally out of mind! Before this stage, you can remove one toy and substitute another and your baby simply forgets the first one existed! As object permanence develops, your baby will gradually come to realise that the toy you moved behind your back is still there, even though she can no longer see it. You can place a blanket or scarf over an item in front of her and she will try to move or look under it to seek the item!
This is the prime time for peek-a-boo play, as your baby will delight in seeing you appear and disappear right in front of her. To start with, a lightly transparent scarf or piece of fabric will let your baby see you through it, but she will soon come to understand you are still there, whatever you hold between you. You can introduce a sensory aspect to this favourite game by draping light scarves over your baby’s head and pulling them away as you say peek-a-boo! Favourite toys can play the game from behind your back, and the classic hands over your face is a game you can play wherever you are.
Object permanence is more than just a great game though. Knowing that things – and people – still exist even when she cannot see them is an important developmental milestone. A mobile baby who understands her mother has stepped into an another room can follow, to seek her out. Understanding that things she likes to play with might be behind or under something else will drive your baby to explore and investigate her environment.
With the awareness that things continue to exist when she cannot see them comes another stage of development at about this age. Around 8-10 months, most babies have a heightened separation anxiety. Their awareness that things go away tends to be stronger than the understanding that they return; this causes distress when those they have strong attachments to move out of sight. Because babies are not yet confident about how, or when, their important people will return, it makes sense for them to want to minimise separations.
Separation anxiety can occur in all circumstances, whether logical or not to the adult brain. Tears at day-care drop-off make sense – but why does your 35 week old baby also cry at pick up time? You know you have only walked into the kitchen, yet your anxious baby wails as you leave her behind, or cries as she crawls to find you.
Object permanence also brings with it the disappointment of having things removed, with accompanying emotions. Now, your baby will not be so easily distracted when you substitute a toy for the remote control, your purse, or other unacceptable plaything. Frustrated tears will follow. Thankfully, your baby’s short-term memory is still immature and she will soon be distracted by what you are offering. The same process occurs when you leave her in her carer’s arms and wave goodbye. A short protest cry is quickly followed by interest in the toys she is offered – even before you drive through the gate!
If you are formula or mixed feeding and have found your baby is intolerant of, or allergic to, cows milk formula, you might be considering a switch to soy-based formula. But is soy an acceptable alternative to animal milks? Find out more in our article: Soy Formula: A Healthy Or Unhealthy Alternative For Babies?