Your 40 Week Old Baby
Although a significant point in pregnancy, 40 weeks is just another day at the office for your 40 week old baby.
Right now, he has bigger issues to deal with: the ongoing mental processing of Leap 6, the steady drive to increase his mobility to the next level, and a growing number of teeth moving inside his gums.
Growing up is hard work at nine months. Your 40 week old baby might have mood swings to match your own, and your shared disturbed sleep might have you both tired and grumpy during the day. Now is a time you both need nurturing – including a daytime nap together if you can manage it.
Here are 6 Things To Do When You Need More Sleep.
All those things which were important 40 weeks ago are just as important now:
Feeding Your 40 Week Old Baby
Many babies around this age notice the water bottles used by their parents or others. They are attracted to them – both to play with (they roll wonderfully, and you can see the water move in the clear ones!) and to imitate drinking from. If your 40 week old baby spends time in mixed-age groups of children, you might find yourself frequently retrieving other children’s sippy cups from him.
Nine months is a good age to introduce water regularly into your baby’s day, if you haven’t previously. While breastfed babies get most of their hydration at the breast, at this age their interest in cups is useful in helping them learn. Babies who are fed formula or expressed breast milk from bottles need to become competent in drinking from a cup as part of their preparation for weaning.
A healthy habit to introduce right from the start is to eat fruit but drink water. Juice is nutritionally unnecessary and high in sugar – it can lead to dental issues and obesity if drunk frequently. After weaning, even milk is best offered just as a drink. So helping your baby get into the water habit before the toddler stage makes sense.
There is no need to boil drinking water in Australia, unless recommended by health authorities in your area. It is also unnecessary to buy bottled water – especially when it’s labelled and sold as ‘especially for infants’, which is simply a sneaky marketing tactic.
Most nine month old babies will be sitting up with the family for three meals a day, plus a snack at mid-morning, mid-afternoon and before bedtime. You can include a cup of water in this routine, and encourage your baby to drink water to quench his thirst.
Get into the habit of keeping his sippy cup handy throughout the day, and offer him a drink if you think he might welcome it, especially during warmer weather. Your 40 week old baby will probably enjoy small sips, rather than drink large amounts at a time, which is fine. Breastfed babies, in particular, don’t drink large volumes at a time.
Sleep And Settling
Between 8 and 13 months, on average, your baby will cut his top four teeth: the upper central and lateral incisors. Larger than the corresponding lower teeth, they usually follow the appearance of the first two lower teeth and can cause significantly more discomfort. On top of the sleep disruption caused by mobility and mental development at this time, pain or discomfort from teething can also be strong enough to wake your baby.
With multiple physical reasons for interrupted sleep and difficulty returning to sleep, it is not surprising your baby might seem extra clingy and unsettled during the day as well. His previous joy in solid foods might be dulled as his swollen gums become sensitive to foods or spoons at meal times – frustrating and confusing him. He might seek the breast more often for comfort – only to find that might also be uncomfortable due to his sore mouth. All this can lead to a miserable few days or weeks until the teeth gradually erupt and bring relief.
As well as having difficulty getting your 40 week old baby to sleep at night, you might also find it harder to settle him for day time naps. If you have been able to lay him down in his cot to fall asleep, now he might need you to hold, feed or carry him while he slips past his discomfort into sleep. Some mothers find they need to lie with their baby while he sleeps, or keep him moving in a baby carrier throughout the nap, as the slightest disturbance wakes him.
These changes to your usually happy baby are both worrying and frustrating – especially as they coincide with an increase of separation anxiety. This can mean he is less likely to let you have a break while he goes to someone else – even his other parent, grandparent or regular caregiver. There are ways you can soothe your baby’s pain or discomfort from teething, but his extra need for you is something you might need to accept for the time being, until this crisis has passed.
Play And Development
As your baby learns to pull himself into a standing position from the floor, he will soon progress to the next stage – ‘cruising’ sideways, holding on to furniture or other supports. This important stage comes before the drive to move forward, which we think of as walking. Don’t be tempted to rush your baby past this stage, or to offer him special walking props. Cruising helps your baby become familiar with the world from an upright perspective, and it’s an important preparation for independent walking.
While some babies seem driven to push through the stages of mobility as though there is a prize at the end, others will spend weeks, or even months, using a combination of rolling, crawling, shuffling and cruising to get everywhere they want to go.
Babies do not need to be taught to walk and there are no benefits in using products like walkers on wheels; in fact, there are risks. Your baby’s brain needs to develop at the same pace as his mobility, and artificially allowing him forward, upright movement, before he is cognitively ready, leaves him without the mental ‘brakes’ to prevent accidents. Indeed, those babies who walk earlier than the typical 9-16 months are often unprepared for mobility, and seem prone to bumps and falls.
All you need do to encourage your baby on his journey to walking is give him lots of floor time, so he can move and develop the muscles and nerves needed for this huge shift in development. Once crawling, he will soon head towards the couch, coffee table and other low furniture and, instinctively, begin to pull himself upright. He might surprise himself with this achievement.
After standing, it might be some time before he can ease himself back down to sitting again. At best, he might plop back down on his bottom; at worst, he might stand there, wailing, and needing your assistance. His brain will soon work out what his body needs to do to sit down again, and then he’ll begin using squatting movements to get up – and down.
At challenging stages like nine months, it’s hard not to compare yourself with others, in terms of your baby and your parenting. And self-doubt can creep in. If all the other babies are (allegedly) sleeping more, crying less, and are not as demanding as yours, it’s easy to wonder whether you are doing something wrong. But there are really good reasons Why You Shouldn’t Compare Yourself To Other Mothers.