Your 50 Week Old Baby
It’s hard to believe your 50 week old baby is so close to her first birthday.
There are just a couple of weeks to go. She is now almost a toddler, and whether she takes those first steps now, or some time in the coming weeks or months, she will achieve toddler status as she turns one.
This small person is now beginning to talk. She’s eating family foods, waving hello and goodbye, and enjoying favourite books and songs. A 12 month old baby has an average weight of 9kg (20 pounds) and a length of 76cm (30 inches). Amazingly, your 50 week old baby has tripled her birth weight!
But there is still a lot of development to come, and another Wonder Week is on the horizon. Leap 8 is just five weeks away, and the familiar three Cs – crying, clinging, and crankiness – are likely to appear once again.
Separation anxiety could mean that on the day of her birthday celebrations, you are juggling a baby who just wants mama, so make sure you take up all offers of help on the day!
Feeding Your 50 Week Old Baby
Your breastfed baby approaches her first birthday without any changes to her feeding pattern. The recommendations to breastfeed for 12 months and beyond mean little to her, and you might even suspect she feeds more often than she did as a newborn!
When you are planning a child-led approach to weaning from the breast, you can continue to follow her lead. Some days she will breastfeed more frequently, perhaps in response to a challenge to her immune system from a cold or virus.
Other days she might seem too busy to stop for feeds, and then she’ll make up for it by cluster feeding in the evening, or overnight. Breastfeeding is flexible, and your milk supply will adjust, according to feedback from the baby. This means you really don’t need to think about it. You baby and your body are synchronised, and lactation will continue for as long as you both wish.
Once your baby turns one, whether or not you continue to express at work is a personal choice. Some mothers find they don’t need to pump as often to keep their breasts comfortable while they’re away from their babies. Others experience engorgement and discomfort if they delay pumping, even for a short time. Whether or not your one-year-old needs to have expressed breastmilk while you are apart also depends on the individual.
Some families transition to cow’s milk instead; others decide to continue providing breastmilk, just as they do when mother and baby are together. If your pumping and storage system are routine now, and your baby is happy having EBM by cup during your working day, then there is no reason to stop until you want to.
Sleep and Settling
If your baby has been sleeping in the same room as you, as part of SIDS guidelines, you might be wondering what to do now that she has almost reached the end of that 6-12 months recommendation. Will you continue to have her crib in your bedroom, or is it time for her to transition to her own room?
The nursery you set up all those months ago probably has space allocated for a cot or crib, and you might have imagined her sleeping there by now. Often, parents of babies who wake often for feeds in the night find it easier to have their baby close by. It makes sense to continue doing that if it is working for you.
Some families make a very gradual transition, by moving the cot from the bedroom, then to the hall, and to the nursery, over a few nights. Others move the cot straight away but also put an adult mattress onto the floor alongside it, so a parent can sleep near the baby while she gets used to the change. You can make the change easier for your baby by replicating the lighting, sound and atmosphere your baby has been used to.
Play and Development
The normal age for starting to walk ranges from 9 months to 18 months. The average age babies take their first steps is around 12-13 months. What happens before then is a series of confidence-building stages, which prepare your baby for the first experience of moving along on her feet.
Over a period of many months, your baby has gradually built up strength and muscle development for walking. Remember all that kicking, around four months of age? She has done daily workouts, gaining strength and mobility in all the joints involved in holding her upright and moving forward. Her pelvis, hips, knees, ankles, and every small bone in her feet, need to be in peak condition for what comes next.
Her vestibular system, tucked away inside her head, has been preparing for walking since the first time you held her upright against your chest as a newborn, and her primitive balance helped her hold up her head for a moment. Her central nervous system has developed from the head down, so the final destination, at the end of her spine, is now switching on, ready to propel the muscle system forward.
First rolling, then crawling, sitting, and finally pulling herself upright to stand supported, have all led her to the next point – perhaps the one that will challenge her most. Standing unsupported, letting go of what she is holding onto, or the immense effort of standing upright from a squatting position will take concentration, as well as muscle strength and balance.
Think back to the first time you rode a bike without training wheels, or launched away from the wall at the skating rink, or plunged downhill on skis! For your baby, who is about to stand and walk, the experience will be much the same.
Watch your baby as she decides whether she can take that short moment of ‘hands-free' to bridge a gap between supports, or drop and crawl instead. See her consider taking a step away from the sofa, and then decide not to. One day, you will spot her free-standing, and at just that moment, she will reach for support, or rapidly sit down instead.
And then another day, she will stand alone.
You are probably in the midst of planning your baby’s first birthday party. So much to do and so much to remember! Here is a little something to give you a giggle and get you through: 10 Things That Happen At Every Toddler Birthday Party.