It’s now been 5 weeks since the birth of your beautiful sweet babe.
In addition to a physical growth spurt, which is common at 4-6 weeks old, this week will see significant brain development.
You might find this week particularly demanding. Hang in there, though, because in a few more weeks you’ll start to see the results of all this growth.
As new parents, remember to employ the village of support you’ve begun to build. Remain active in new mothers’ groups.
Sometimes knowing you’re not alone can be enough to help you cope with a challenging few days of parenting.
Every mother-baby pair is unique, of course, so each developmental change and physical growth spurt will be experienced a bit differently.
5 week old baby milestones
If your baby was born at term, at around five weeks old she will experience her first Wonder Week.
The first of ten recognizable developmental leaps in a baby’s first 18 months of life, leap one is all about changing sensations.
Wonder Weeks are typically accompanied by the three Cs – clinginess, crankiness, and crying.
Why is my 5 week old fighting sleep?
While your little one is processing the world around her and working through this infant development stage, you will find she will feed more frequently, be more wakeful, and need more help to settle.
A baby who might have been having longer stretches of five to six hours of sleep at night might now be waking more often and crying more.
Babywearing is one way to help your baby sleep during this time while still allowing you to get other things done.
If you haven’t yet worked out how to use the carrier you were gifted at your shower, now is the time to do it.
If you don’t yet have one, you can still offer your 5-week old baby the same closeness and connection by offering some extra skin-to-skin contact, lots of cuddles, and by gently rocking and dancing to help settle her.
If you don’t have a carrier, the good news is you can make a simple version out of a sheet or with old t-shirts. Just be sure you are wearing it high enough so you can kiss the top of your little one’s head and that your baby’s neck and head are well supported.
Babywearing and skin-to-skin contact are great ways to comfort your baby. Having your little one chest to chest with you also counts as tummy time, so keep your baby close!
Can a 5 week old baby be held too much?
Despite what you might hear, or what well-intentioned relatives sometimes tell you, experts agree it is physically impossible to hold or tend to your newborn too much.
Babies have very basic needs at this age. They need to be fed, held, comforted, and loved, and their main form of communication is crying.
Their growing brains are simply not capable of the sophisticated thought process involved in manipulative behaviors. When we respond to their cries, we are not spoiling them, or ‘making a rod for our own backs’, as you might hear frequently.
A newborn’s primal brain has a need for constant attention; responding to this need in a timely manner reinforces security and attachment. Not doing so is detrimental to your baby’s health.
Responding to their cries promptly shows our babies they are loved, and also teaches them to trust in the world with confidence.
This type of responsive parenting helps form healthy bonds, and teaches our babies to be confident and secure. This in turn will lead to more sleep, less crying and clinginess, and more independent behavior in the long run.
So go ahead. Give your baby all the snuggles she needs.
5 week old baby feeding
Most babies breastfeed more frequently during Wonder Weeks.
This is normal. Their brains are working hard and breast milk is brain food, so they need to access it often.
Your milk supply is designed to provide milk whenever your little one needs it; you don’t need to wait for it to build up before feeding again.
While you feed on one side, the other breast is actively making milk, ready to go again when needed.
The volume of the new milk might be low, but the fat content is at its highest – and it’s the fat that contains the highest calories and satisfies the baby’s hunger as she grows.
Allow your baby to feed at her own pace, whenever she’s ready, and she will regulate her needs.
Cluster feeding is normal during these growth spurts; your baby will simply go back to the breast repeatedly until she’s done.
You might not notice increased feeding in your formula-fed baby. This is probably due to the slower digestion; it takes longer for your baby to process formula and convert it to fuel for growth.
Your baby might seek feeds a little earlier than usual, or begin sleeping but then wake for night feeds she did not need before.
This is fine. Sticking to a rigid schedule of feeding will simply distress your baby and interfere with this natural increase in appetite.
If you haven’t already, you might be thinking about expressing your breast milk.
Unless you need to do so as part of a management plan for breastfeeding problems, it’s a good idea to wait until breastfeeding is well established before you introduce this variation.
As well as making extra work for mothers, switching easily between breast and bottle can be a challenge to a baby’s ability, especially while she’s still learning. It is known as nipple confusion. It makes sense for a baby to learn one skill before tackling another.
Once you’re both ready, here are our 5 Tips To Help You Express Breastmilk Like A Pro.
If you’re not sure whether expressing is the right choice, or if you need further information, speak to your health visitor or healthcare professional for advice.
At five weeks most mothers find that breastfeeding is well established. If your growing baby has been gaining weight appropriately then this is a good time to pump or express some milk and allow someone else to use a bottle to feed baby.
Some babies will only tolerate this if the breastfeeding parent is away from the house. If your baby knows you’re there she might refuse the bottle. So take a few moments away from the house. Go for a walk or run an errand and see if it helps.
5 week old baby weight
Babies come in many different sizes. There is a huge range in ‘normal weight’ for babies.
We can talk about averages, but the most important thing is that your baby is growing on her own curve (growth centile) and meeting her milestones.
The average weight gain in the first year is 1-2 lbs (0.45-0.90 kg) per month.
Babies grow an average of 10 inches (25 cm) in the first year and their head circumference increases about 0.75 inches (2 cm) per month.
Talk to your baby’s doctor or healthcare provider if you have concerns about your individual baby’s weight or growth.
5 week old baby fussy
Not all crying in the fifth week can be attributed to a Wonder Week, so remember to try all your usual tricks as well as going with the flow.
A crying baby is distressing – as it’s meant to be. Nature planned it that way so you don’t just ignore your baby when she cries. Nature has also given you a couple of really reliable ways to help her when she cries; you might be surprised to hear what they are.
Find out in our article Two Things Proven By Research To Reduce Infant Crying.
If your little one is unsettled in the evenings, make sure you’re familiar with our article on Surviving The Arsenic Hour: 8 Tips To Cope With An Unsettled Baby.
5 week old baby sleep
Having a flexible bedtime routine can calm both of you at the end of the day when you are feeling unsettled.
Warm baths, singing songs, infant massage, rocking, and telling stories can be sweet ways to soothe your baby, and your frazzled nerves.
If you feel you are running out of options, here’s a handy article to read: Baby Still Crying And You’ve Tried Everything? 6 More Things to Check.
Wind and reflux
Your 5 week old baby might be unsettled after eating.
Discomfort due to trapped air in her stomach will prevent her falling asleep easily or might be keeping her awake.
Babies often swallow more air when bottle feeding, or if they have cried for an extended period before feeding. Helping your baby burp can sometimes be a challenge. A relaxed and vertical baby will usually burp more easily after a feed.
It can help to offer a couple of opportunities to burp during the feed, to release any build-up of air as your baby relaxes.
Whatever positions you use to encourage a burp, avoid having your 5-week old baby slumped in a position that might prevent air from rising.
Keeping her upper body vertical will allow any air to work its way up the esophagus, rather than be trapped in her stomach.
Many breastfed babies don’t swallow much air while feeding, especially once they gain a good suck-swallow-breathe pattern. Simply snuggling her upright against your body for 10-15 minutes after she comes off the breast will usually allow any trapped air to rise naturally.
If a burp doesn’t appear and your baby is settled or asleep, don’t waste time trying to relieve something which might not exist.
If an air bubble is there but not bothering the baby, it will resolve itself next time you hold her vertically.
It’s ok for babies to bring up some milk along with trapped air.
Some babies will bring up a lot of their feed and then go back on the breast to fill the space they have just created.
That’s fine. Follow your baby’s lead; she knows what she needs.
Some reflux is normal and only becomes a problem if it’s causing pain for the baby.
Often it’s simply a result of a fast flow of milk from the breast – a case of too much too quickly. The baby’s stomach rejects it and she starts again.
It can also be a sign of over-supply, which you can read more about here: Oversupply Of Breast Milk – 7 Signs Of An Oversupply.
Just as you are starting to take more outings, have more visitors, and take newborn pictures your baby might develop baby acne.
Baby acne can start as early as 2 weeks old but tends to peak at 4-5 weeks.
Although it might be upsetting to see your sweet baby’s face covered with acne, be assured that newborn acne will resolve by itself, without any treatment, by six to eight weeks old.
Don’t use any creams or acne treatments on your baby’s skin and do not pick or pop any of the pimples.
Baby acne is caused by the hormones that were transferred from your placenta and are still present in your baby.
If your baby’s acne is occurring in other places as well as her face, and if it is drier and more scaly, she might have eczema. If you’re concerned, you can mention this at your next pediatrician or doctor check-up.
Read more in Baby Eczema: Tips For Healing Breakouts.
Another thing you might notice is something that’s dubbed ‘cradle cap’.
This yellowish flaky crust on the baby’s scalp (and sometimes on the forehead or eyebrows) is usually caused by overactive sebaceous glands and is also very common.
Cradle cap usually resolves on its own at around 3 months but might linger for much longer.
You can use coconut oil or olive oil on the scalp to soften the area.
For more information and tips for treatment see our article Cradle Cap and Cradle Cap Treatment.
Play and development
You are now into your second month of parenthood. Where has that time gone?
At this age, your baby will begin to enjoy looking at faces in books and interacting with visitors and strangers even more.
Right now, she is cataloging facial expressions – the more, the better!
You might start to see a real smile whenever she sees faces or hears voices she recognizes.
What should I be doing with a 5 week old baby?
Social interaction is an important aid to your 5-week old baby’s development. Keep your baby near you throughout the day so you can chat and smile.
A day with your baby will be somewhat dictated by her feeding and napping schedule, but if you carry your baby in a carrier you’ll be able to get some things done with your baby riding along.
It takes some adjustment but having your baby join your life and daily routines will ultimately benefit you both.
You’ll notice that your baby has much more alert time now, and spends slightly more time awake and taking in the sights, than she spends asleep. Use this to your advantage.
Tummy time is still important to help develop and strengthen the muscles.
Have some focused playtime with your little one and then start to bring her out into the big wide world.
This is the beginning of a grand adventure.
Although this week of growth and leaps in your baby’s development might be rough, remember that new skills she’ll develop over the next few months are just around the corner.