Your 44 Week Old Baby
Your 44 week old baby is now officially past the ten-month mark. Unbelievably, only eight more weeks until his first birthday!
He is likely to be spending more and more time upright, using furniture to support him. When he is on the ground, he will be confidently crawling in some way, and sitting himself up more easily. All of these are steps towards his next two goals: independent standing and walking.
Your baby is building a growing vocabulary of known words. Mostly, though, he will still be babbling, only occasionally making a sound you can associate with a favourite person or thing. Keep on reading to him. You are laying the foundations of language on which he will build. And, even though it feels silly sometimes, keep talking to him. He is actually listening!
If you are no longer breastfeeding, you will be starting to wean your baby from formula and bottles over the coming weeks. While breastfeeding is recommended for a minimum of 12 months, bottle-feeding has a recommendation of just 12 months. This might seem confusing, but it is about the methods and contents involved, and is not a judgement on your feeding choices.
Feeding Your 44 Week Old Baby
Your ten-month old baby should be well along the pathway of transitioning from bottles to cups, and from formula to cow’s milk, both which are recommended from twelve months. A typical baby at 44 weeks might be having formula at breakfast, mid-morning, lunch, mid-afternoon, dinner, bedtime, and during the night if he wakes.
The breakfast, lunch and dinner feeds are the easiest for making the transition to a cup. Your baby is also consuming food regularly at these times, so you can replace a bottle before or after a meal with a cup given with the meal.
Your baby might not drink the same volume of milk from a cup as he does from a bottle, which is fine. Your goal is to reduce or eliminate these milk feeds over the coming two months. In fact, at some meal times, you can offer water in a cup instead.
Bottles associated with sleep can be harder to replace. If your baby is used to feeding to sleep, weaning will mean modifying his sleep routines to gradually reduce his reliance on the bottle.
You can do this in a few ways. Try introducing a comfort item alongside bottle feeds, with the emphasis gradually moving from the bottle to the comforter (a “lovey”, blanket, soft toy or similar).
You can reduce the volume of milk in the bottle and slow down the pace of the feed by resting every few minutes.
By offering milk from a straw or sippy cup, instead of the bottle, at some feeds, you can slowly break the connection between the bottle and sleep.
Most families find the night-time bottle is last to go and the hardest to give up. However, it is important that formula or cow’s milk given at sleep times is not left in the mouth. Wipe or brush your baby’s newly emerged teeth, as milk pooling around the teeth during sleep creates a perfect environment for dental decay.
The top teeth are most at risk of this, and as they emerge, on average between 6 and 12 months, they can be vulnerable before they are fully erupted. Taking care of them from the start is important. That is why the recommendation is to cease bottles at bedtime from nine months.
By 12 months, your baby should be eating mostly family foods. This includes milk and dairy products, with 4 to 6 servings daily (one serve = 1/2 cup or 125ml of milk, custard OR 100g tub yoghurt OR 20g cheese).
Children do not need special yoghurts or custards, which are often full of sugar. When you read nutrition labels to check sugar content, keep in mind that around 4 grams is a teaspoon. Many baby and toddler foods contain a shocking amount of sugar, for example this toddler snack, containing over 60% sugar.
You can use full cream milk, instead of formula, from 12 months. Low fat milk (and products in general) typically contain more sugar to compensate for reduced fat.
Sleep and Settling
If you are moving away from bottles for feeding, you might be wondering whether to use a dummy or pacifier to settle your baby to sleep instead.
While some families routinely introduce a dummy from birth, others turn to them later. Many never use one at all, by choice or circumstance. Family, friends and others are often quick to advise you to introduce a pacifier, but guidance on when to withdraw them can be less forthcoming.
So if you have been, or are considering, using a dummy, what do you need to know about their continued use?
One of the biggest challenges with babies who rely on dummies for settling to sleep, is the fact they need help returning them to their mouth when they fall out. And this can happen several times each night.
The good news is, from around 8 months, your baby can learn how to do this for himself! Instead of putting the dummy back for him, put it into his hand and guide both to his mouth. You can do this whenever he uses it, day or night, until he makes the association and starts to pick it up himself. After a period of working out which way is up, he will soon be able to do it independently. It won’t guarantee he will manage it every time, but it’s a start!
Now that your baby is beginning to communicate verbally, through sounds and speech, it is important to allow his tongue to move as freely as possible. Having a dummy in his mouth will affect that so ideally, reserve his pacifier only for sleep times. If your baby is used to being ‘plugged in’ most of the time he is awake, you will need to wean him from that gradually. Find tips on how here: Ditching The Dummy (Pacifier) – Tips And Ideas For Stopping.
The arrival of teeth is often associated with concerns about dummy use. Intense use of pacifiers can exert enough pressure in the mouth to cause misalignment of teeth. However, dentists are generally most concerned about the impact of that on the permanent teeth, which erupt around 6 years. Aiming to remove the dummy by two years limits potential problems, and allows time for any misalignment to revert naturally before the adult teeth come in.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, being dependent on having a dummy available, and in the mouth, can be a real issue for many toddlers. If you wish to avoid this kind of reliance, it makes sense to wean your baby from day-time use, at least, and ideally from complete use, before age one.
Doing this eliminates all of the above concerns. Your baby’s short-term memory is immature, and he is young enough, for you to wean him off his dummy relatively easily. You won’t have to donate the dummy to new babies via Santa, the tooth fairy, or use any other creative tactics parents of toddlers and pre-schoolers resort to!
Play and Development
At ten months your baby is likely to be pulling himself up to stand, supported by furniture – both solid and moveable. He might even be using moveable furniture, like small stools, to support him in walking forward.
A good quality walking trolley can be entertaining at this stage. Make sure the design is weighted correctly, to prevent it toppling when he holds onto it and pulls himself upwards. Your 44 week old baby will enjoy this new mobility and will cheerfully ‘walk’ in this supported way as part of playtime.
He will also be learning he can move sideways along supports such as your sofa or coffee table, perhaps dropping to crawl between gaps in furniture, before hauling himself up again. All this movement is developing the muscles he needs to be strong for independent walking.
The final hard-wiring of his brain for the most complex movement of all will take some time. Walking generally occurs between 9 and 18 months, with the majority of babies walking around their first birthday. You can’t hurry them to reach this milestone and props like ‘walkers’ that your baby sits in, simply train the wrong muscles. They are toys, not teaching aids. The floor is your baby’s learning space for walking, as for all mobility.
Standing upright brings your baby’s head into a new position. Babies have an average height of 70cm at this age, and the view from up there can be exciting! Objects he previously hadn’t noticed now come clearly into view – and attract interest! But what goes up can also come down.
It’s alarming to hear the terrifying clunk of your baby’s head, as he miscalculates or stumbles, and falls against objects, or bumps his head on the floor. You might wonder whether you should restrict his play to prevent such bumps.
It helps to keep in mind that nature has prepared for this stage. Babies’ skulls are much thicker than those of an older child or adult. While you should prevent serious falls, these incidental bumps are inevitable. A cuddle or breastfeed usually stops the tears. Any bump to the head that causes swelling, cuts, or bruising is classified as a head injury. It should be checked by a doctor, to rule out more serious damage. Read more about what to do here.
As your baby approaches his first birthday, you might be considering giving him a baby brother or sister. But what age gap is best? Close together or years apart? Everyone will have an opinion!
Find out more about big age gaps here: Age Gaps Between Children: 10 Reasons Why Big Gaps Rock