Your 49 Week Old Baby
You might be counting down the days until your 49 week old baby has his first birthday!
Whether your planning is styled by Pinterest, or you’re having a small celebration with close family, surviving the first year of your baby’s life is worth commemorating.
However big or small your celebration, the question many people will be asking is: “Is he walking yet?”
Whether or not a baby is walking on his first birthday is a big deal for onlookers, but the reality is this: he might be or he might not! The typical age range for independent walking is 9-18 months, so there is no need to worry if your baby isn’t stepping up to his birthday cake.
Eleven months is a time of consolidation for many babies. They are refining what they can do before moving on to their next challenge. Your 49 week old baby might be crawling more confidently, standing more securely, saying a word or two more clearly, or eating with more skill. So many things to practise!
Feeding your 49 week old baby
If your 49 week old baby is breastfed, you may have decided to continue breastfeeding beyond your baby’s first year. There are certainly health benefits beyond 12 months of age, and the World Health Organization recommends mothers and babies breastfeed up to two years of age, if they wish. You might like to read about 7 benefits of breastfeeding a toddler.
However, if your baby is bottle fed, there is no need for formula (baby or toddler formula) beyond the 12 month mark. Full fat cows milk is perfectly fine, along with normal meal times.
Find out more about toddler formula, and why an increasing number of experts aren’t recommending it.
Bottles and nap times
If your 49 week old baby is bottle fed, he is probably only having bottles around sleep times. This is usually before naps during the day, at bed-time and if he is resettling during the night. On waking and at meal times, he will have milk from a cup to replace bottles, and food has taken on a greater role than milk feeds at these times.
Reducing the connection between bottles and sleep is the hardest part of weaning. It’s easier to begin with day-time sleeps. This will set a new routine which you can then pick up at night. Weaning from using a bottle as a sleep prop is about gradually reducing the amount of milk you offer, while at the same time aiming to end the feed before you settle your baby in his cot.
You can read more tips for help in our article about how to stop your baby’s bottle before bedtime habit.
You might choose to replace the bottle with milk from a cup. Keep in mind the total serves of dairy for a 12 month old are 4-6 per day, with 125mls of milk equalling one serve. Ideally, yoghurt, cheese and other dairy foods will make up the majority of these serves, so your toddler is not filling up on milk, which can reduce his interest in meals.
Tips for transitioning from the bottle at sleep times
If your sleep time routine doesn’t already include stories, songs and snuggles, now is the time to introduce them. First, as well as the bottle, bring in new things, before gradually withdrawing the bottle from the routine.
For example, if your baby currently has a bottle while you cuddle him to sleep, begin reading a story at the same time. Then gradually reduce the volume of milk a little each day, until the story and cuddle are more of a focus than the bottle. If you are using a cup for daytime milk feeds, you might find your baby happily accepts this in place of a bottle at sleep time.
The weaning transition is gradual, to allow your baby time to adjust to these big changes. Your goal is to stop bottles altogether around 12 months, and move to full cream cow’s milk in place of formula, unless family preferences, allergies or intolerances exclude that milk.
Sleep and Settling
If you’re happy breastfeeding your baby to sleep, then there’s no need to do anything differently right now.
For a breastfed baby who is being weaned around 12 months, the process will be quite similar to the one used for a formula fed baby. Over the coming weeks, you will want to make the transition from breastfeeding to sleep to falling asleep with different parental support.
This often means someone other than his breastfeeding mother needs to take the primary role at bed-time, so that being close against her doesn’t trigger him to seek the breast. His other parent, a grandparent or other trusted adult can use soothing techniques like rocking, wearing, cuddling, or patting your baby to sleep.
It is hard to hear your distressed baby calling for you during this process, so a new routine of going for a walk or heading to the gym might make it easier for both of you. He might accept a drink of warm milk from a cup, but avoid introducing a bottle, as it is not ideal beyond the 12 month mark.
Include stories, songs, and snuggles as part of your baby’s new bedtime routine. As it gradually becomes familiar, your baby will adjust, and will no longer need breastfeeding to sleep.
If you find the transition is too hard for your baby right now, you might decide to delay weaning, and try again in a few weeks. Active teething, illness, or times of change in the family, like moving house, aren’t ideal for weaning. Sometimes, waiting a little longer makes the process easier for everyone.
Play and Development
Are you hearing any sounds which are suspiciously like words? There are some common sounds most babies make in the second six months. For example, mama and dada are sounds that babies around the world make, and they have developed into words for parents in many languages. Most words for ‘baby’ come from the baba sound.
You will start to hear your baby’s early language about now, and it will echo the words he hears often during his day. It’s common to hear short and sharp words like “up” and “no”, and greeting likes “hi” and “bye”, or favourite things like “ball” or “book”. Your baby might attempt any word that has some meaning for him.
You might be raising your baby to be bilingual, with each parent speaking a different language to him. If so, his first words will probably come later. A baby who has been learning sign language might sign words before speaking them. Many have the sign for “milk” working for them well before their first birthday!
Language is complex, and the evolution of sounds into words occurs over time. There is no need to correct your baby’s attempts, or to try to teach him to speak by parroting words you say. Talking to him, reading to him every day, and exposing him to opportunities to see and hear new things will help him build a rich vocabulary all by himself. Put aside the flash cards, and take him to the zoo instead!
Avoid using baby-talk. Learning to say “birdie” instead of “bird” might be cute, but it just means he will need to learn the right word later. Acknowledge his attempts positively by repeating words correctly, and he will self-correct naturally as he goes. Your baby’s known (passive) vocabulary will be greater than his spoken (active) one. A baby who can say two words at 12 months might understand as many as 25!
In the stores there are many toys that claim to be educational, and designed to help your child with language and reading. But how can you work out what is beneficial and what could be harmful? Find out more: Electronic Toys Linked To Decreased Language During Play.