Something new enters the life of your 5-week old baby.
In addition to a physical growth spurt, common around 4-6 weeks old, this week will see significant brain development.
You will probably find this to be an extra demanding week. Hang in there though, because next week, you’ll start to see the results of all this growth.
Remember to employ the village of support you’ve hopefully begun building. Remain active in new mothers’ groups.
Sometimes knowing you aren’t alone can be enough to help you cope with a challenging few days of parenting.
Of course, every mother-baby pair is unique, so each developmental change and physical growth spurt will be experienced a bit differently.
5-week old baby milestones
If your 5-week old 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.
While your little one is processing the world around him and working through this development, you will find he will feed more frequently, be more wakeful, and need more help to settle.
A baby who may have been having longer stretches of five to six hours of sleep at night may be waking more often and be crying more.
One way to support him during this time while still getting other things done is babywearing.
If you haven’t yet worked out how to use the baby carrier you were gifted at your shower, now is the time to do so.
If you don’t yet have one, you can still offer your 5-week old baby that closeness and connection by offering some extra skin-to-skin contact, lots of cuddles and gently rocking and dancing with him.
You can also make a simple carrier out of a sheet or with old t-shirts. Just be sure they are worn high enough that you can kiss the top of your baby’s head and that they are well supported.
Babywearing and skin-to-skin contact is not only a way to comfort your baby, but having your baby chest to chest with you also counts as tummy time, so keep your baby close!
5-week old baby feeding
Most babies breastfeed more frequently during Wonder Weeks.
This is normal – their brain is working hard and breastmilk 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 is actively making milk, ready to go again when needed.
The volume of that new milk may 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.
Cluster feeding is normal during these growth spurts, as your baby simply goes back to the breast repeatedly until they’re done.
You might not notice increased feeding in your formula-fed baby.
This is probably due to the slower digestion needed – it takes longer for your baby to process their milk and convert it to fuel for growth.
Your baby might seek feeds a little earlier than usual, or wake for night feeds they have not been needing.
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 been already, you might be thinking about expressing your breastmilk.
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 extra work for mothers, some babies don’t switch easily between breast and bottle while they are still learning, which is known as nipple confusion, so it makes sense to learn one skill before tackling another.
Once you are both ready, here are our 5 Tips To Help You Express Breastmilk Like A Pro.
At five weeks most find that breastfeeding is well established. If your 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 they know you are there they may refuse the bottle. Take a walk or run an errand and see if this helps.
5-week old baby weight
Babies come in all different sizes. There is a huge normal range in weights of normal babies.
We can talk about averages, but the most important thing is that your baby is growing on its own curve and meeting milestones.
The average weight gain in the first year is 1-2 lbs/month.
Babies grow an average of 10 inches in the first year and their head circumference increases about 2 cm/month.
Talk to your pediatrician if you have concerns about your individual baby’s growth.
5-week old baby fussy
Not all crying this 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 also gave 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 To Reduce Infant Crying.
If your little one is unsettled in the evenings, make sure you’re familiar with our article which contains tips on how to survive the arsenic hour.
5-week old baby sleep
Having a flexible bedtime routine can calm both of you when at the end of the day you are both unsettled.
Warm baths, singing songs, infant massage, rocking, and telling stories can be sweet ways to soothe both of your frazzled nerves.
If you feel like you have tried everything, here is a handy article to read too: Baby Still Crying And You’ve Tried Everything? 6 More Things to Check.
Your 5-week old baby might be unsettled after feeds due to trapped air in his stomach.
Helping your baby burp can sometimes be a challenge and discomfort will prevent easily falling asleep.
A relaxed and vertical baby will usually burp easily after a feed.
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.
Babies often swallow more air when bottle feeding, or if they have cried for an extended period before feeding.
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.
So, 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 normal for babies to bring up some milk along with trapped air.
The longer the milk has been in the stomach before this happens, the more digested it will appear.
Some babies will bring up a lot of their feed and then look to go back on the breast to fill the space they have just created.
Follow your baby’s lead – she knows what she needs.
Such 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 causing too much too quickly. The stomach rejects it and she starts again.
This can 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 were starting to make more outings, have more visitors, and take newborn pictures your baby may develop more baby acne.
Baby acne can start as early as 2 weeks old but tends to peak at 4-5 weeks old.
While it may be upsetting to see your sweet baby’s face covered with acne, be assured that normal newborn acne will resolve by itself without any treatment by six to eight weeks old.
Do not 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 still present in your baby that were transferred from your placenta.
If your baby’s acne is occurring in other places besides her face and is more dry and scaly, she may have eczema. You can mention this at your next pediatrician check-up and read more here.
Another thing you might notice is what is dubbed “cradle cap”.
This yellowish flaky crust on the baby’s scalp (and sometimes forehead or eyebrows) is usually caused by overactive sebaceous glands and is also totally normal.
The cradle cap usually resolves on its own at around 3 months but may linger for much longer.
You can use coconut oil or olive oil on your baby’s scalp to soften the scalp. For more information and tips for treatment see our article Cradle Cap and Cradle Cap Treatment.
Play and development
Your baby at this age 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!
5-week old baby schedule
Social interaction is an important aid to a baby’s development – keep your baby near you throughout your day so you can chat and smile.
Your day with your baby will be somewhat dictated by their feeding and napping schedule, but if you carry your baby in a carrier you will be able to get some things done with your baby riding along.
It takes some adjustment but having your baby join your life and your daily routines is what will ultimately benefit you both.
Have some focused playtime with your little one and then start bringing them 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 may be rough, remember that new skills are just around the corner.