Your 45 Week Old Baby
Another Wonder Week is close by, and your baby’s typical crying, clinginess, and crankiness are likely to be a challenge. At times, it can be hard to understand exactly why your 45 week old baby is unhappy. Just accepting she is can be easier than trying to assess and fix the problem.
During her happy periods, though, she will be delighting in her ability to crawl, and pull herself upright. She will experiment with letting go of her supports – and quickly grabbing hold of them again! Independent standing is as much about confidence as it is about balance.
Your 45 week old baby has probably mastered waving and clapping. She might also try to offer you a kiss. A wet, slobbery mouth on your cheek might not sound like a treat, but the experience can be memorable. Just be aware, she might turn that kiss into a bite at the last minute – it can be hard for her to remember which is which!
Feeding Your 45 Week Old Baby
The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend breastfeeding for at least 12 months, while the World Health Organization recommends two years and beyond. As your 45 week old baby heads towards her first birthday, you might be considering when you will wean your baby.
If you are both enjoying breastfeeding, there is no rush to end it. Toddlers gain much in the way of nutrition, comfort, and immune support from breastfeeding in the second year. You can continue for as long as you wish.
Some parents set a goal of breastfeeding for one year. If you plan to wean at or around that time, that process can now slowly begin. It is always important to allow time for your breasts and your body to adjust to these changes. Generally, dropping one feed per week is a comfortable approach. Begin by looking at a typical day’s breastfeeding pattern for your baby. It might look like this:
- Breastfeed upon waking
- Mid-morning feed prior to nap
- Breastfeed and lunch
- Mid-afternoon feed prior to nap
- Breastfeed and dinner
- Bedtime breastfeed
- Breastfeed during night waking
Weaning is about changing patterns of behaviour, and replacing breastfeeds with another source of food or comfort.
Most families find the meal time feeds easiest to transition, and the sleep time feeds hardest. To allow your breasts time to adjust to a reduced demand, avoid dropping consecutive feeds. Using the example above, you might drop the lunchtime feed one week, and the dinner feed the next week, leaving the afternoon feed as normal.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner time feeds can simply become food plus water from a cup. It isn’t essential to replace breastmilk at these times with formula or cow’s milk.
If you wish to include cow’s milk in your baby’s diet – as a drink – a serving size is 125ml. A 12 month old needs 4-6 serves of dairy each day, and this amount includes yoghurt, cheese, custard and other milk-based foods.
If you transition these meal time breastfeeds over the coming weeks, you can move onto weaning from the sleep time feeds from 11 months.
Of course, many breastfed babies have a completely unpredictable pattern of feeding, both day and night. You can use the same approach to weaning, by making choices about how often you will feed at different times of the day.
Sleep and Settling
As your 45 week old baby approaches Leap 7 at Week 46, you will probably experience a peak in sleep disturbance.
For many breastfeeding families, this can mean nights of what Dr James McKenna refers to as breastsleeping – where the baby sleeps with the breast in close proximity and feeds frequently throughout the night.
This can be a positive experience for some mothers. It enables them to sleep and rest while attending to their baby’s needs. Others find it challenging, but accept it in the short term, when all other options have proved ineffective. For families who choose gentle alternatives to sleep training, surrender is sometimes the best option of all.
If you are spending your nights with a baby close to or attached to your breast, it is important to support your body, to ease the physical strain of not being able to reposition easily throughout the night. You are most likely to feel discomfort in your shoulders, back and hips. It can be useful to have extra pillows to support them.
If you have a partner to support you, then ask for help to position a pillow behind your back. Place another between your knees. The right pillow to support your head in a side-sleeping position can make a huge difference. When you wake during the night, roll your baby over to the other side, and reposition your pillows. It is worth the disturbance, as you will resettle better in comfort.
It helps to remember this intense period is temporary. Once your baby comes through these developmental stages, and is easy to settle in the night, you can return to your previous bed-sharing or room-sharing arrangements, or transition your baby to her own cot, as you prefer.
Play and Development
Your 45 week old baby is often torn between two needs. She needs to keep an eye on you, due to separation anxiety. Because she is now so mobile, she also has a strong need to explore her environment.
She balances these needs by using you as a ‘base station’, noting where you are, and checking back regularly to make sure you are still there. She will then crawl into other rooms, or around the garden, stopping to look back if you are in sight, and circling back to check if you are not.
As she gains confidence in your on-going existence, she will happily make contact with you and then continue in her play. Occasionally, she will forget, and become alarmed that you might not be there.
Regular ‘call and respond’ play can help reassure her that you are still nearby. Peek-a-boo is a favourite game. You can expand on it by moving into another room, or behind a piece of furniture, and calling to her to find you.
A large cardboard box makes a fun game. Sit her in it, and then quickly open and close the lid, calling to her the whole time so she knows you are there.
She will enjoy crawling through a play tunnel, with you as the reward at the end. You can engage her other parent in a game of hide and seek, with both of you taking turns to find each other, with her in your arms.
This type of play will reinforce object permanence, and the concept that what she can’t see continues to exist.
Separation anxiety peaks by around 18 months, and gradually eases through early childhood. Your toddler or young child will continue to be concerned about unfamiliar people or situations. However, the foundations you lay now will help her cope later.
As you deal with yet another sleep disruption, due to developmental changes, you’ll probably be given lots of well-meaning suggestions about getting your baby to sleep more. It might be advice about controlled crying (graduated extinction) or ‘Cry It Out’ (CIO – total extinction) methods of sleep training.
Some say these techniques do no harm, and even help prevent postnatal depression in mothers. But what about the babies?