Your 51 Week Old Baby
Next week is your 51 week old baby’s first birthday!
This time one year ago, you were heavily pregnant. You were anticipating the arrival of a tiny person, and wondering what impact he would have on your life. A year later, you can’t imagine the world without him.
As you prepare for the big event, you’re also reflecting on the past year. As well as times of great joy, most likely there have been things which have caused you great worry. You are probably still being awakened during the night, and sometimes you cannot soothe your baby’s crying.
Now he is mobile, a whole range of new challenges keep you on your toes – literally! Those early days of sitting down all day, and feeding your newborn, probably sound appealing. Now you seem to spend so much time following her around the house.
Your baby is on the brink of toddlerhood – and it comes with a whole lot of challenges of its own! But don’t worry – BellyBelly will continue to guide and support you along the way.
Feeding Your 51 Week Old Baby
As you work towards your goal of weaning your baby from bottles and formula at 12 months, you might be finding the bedtime bottle is the hardest to give up. Your baby is so familiar with the comfort and relaxation he gains from that feed that he is probably reluctant to let it go. So how important is it that he stops this warm, milky connection at the end of the day?
It is not the content of the bedtime bottles that is the issue. You can easily switch him from formula to cow’s milk (or other milk if you prefer). Falling asleep with a bottle of milk in his mouth, however, can lead to ongoing dependence. It also creates an environment for associated dental decay.
It is important not to let your baby lie in his cot sucking on a bottle. Bedtime bottles should be controlled by a parent and removed when the baby stops sucking or falls asleep. The dripping of milk into the mouth while baby is sleeping is the biggest risk factor for decay. In fact, dentists recommend you rinse your baby’s mouth with water, or wipe or brush his teeth after a bedtime drink. Unfortunately that will most likely undo that warm, relaxed comfort it just created!
If switching to a cup doesn’t meet your baby’s need for sucking at bedtime, another approach is to water down the milk gradually, until you transition him to a bottle of water, as he goes to sleep and when he wakes during the night. By limiting this bottle to sleep times only, you won’t have face the problems of a toddler wanting to walk about with a bottle in his mouth, which can lead to speech and dental issues over time.
Later, when he is ready, you can try again to transition to a cup instead.
Your goal is for water to be your toddler’s drink. Milk and fruit should be viewed as foods. Full cream milk is recommended until your baby is two years old. A serve of milk for a one-year-old is only 125mls, or around half a cup. Fruit juice is not considered a suitable drink for children, due to its naturally high sugar levels. Drinking milk and juice can dull your child’s appetite for other food and create mealtime battles.
Sleep and Settling
As your baby is practising standing and walking, it is likely this development stage will cause sleep disturbance, once again.
Instead of lying down quietly in his cot at bedtime, he’ll find the rails provide wonderful support. He will practise pulling himself up and cruising around the sides. For bed-sharing babies the bed-head serves a similar purpose, with parents’ bodies filling the gaps!
Coming out of her light sleep stages, when your baby wakes he will crawl, wriggle and find his way to standing – regardless of tightly tucked bedding, or sleeping bags. Once he has satisfied the urge to stand and walk around his cot, you might find him standing there – crying, because he has forgotten how to sit down again, or needing your help to do so. You might need to repeat your usual bedtime settling techniques during the night, to help him back to sleep again. Breastfed babies will probably increase night feeds again during this temporary stage.
Once he has achieved walking, the drive to stand in the night will ease, and your older baby will move into a new night-time pattern.
Teething will continue to cause discomfort throughout the second year, as he cuts one-year-old molars, eye teeth, and two-year-old molars over the coming months.
Sleep disruption can also be expected during the Wonder Weeks still to come. Leaps 8, 9 and 10 can be expected around 55 weeks, 13 months and 17 months. Many toddlers also exhibit similar behaviour around 21 months.
Play and Development
A lot of toys you might already have will now become popular. Around this age, your baby will enjoy simple blocks, stacking rings, shape sorters, and ‘posting’ toys that are designed to have pieces placed through a hole, for a reward.
They all encourage your baby to use simple processes to achieve a goal. Stacking one or two blocks, then crashing them down again is a complex activity that requires hand-eye coordination, grasping, and precision in placement. These are all skills he will need later for writing! For now, the crashing down bit is just for fun!
You can take advantage of your baby’s growing understanding of matching, sorting, and sequences, by helping him pack away his toys at the end of play. Light, shallow baskets, or boxes he can see over and into, will encourage him to copy you in putting his blocks away – although he will also enjoy tipping them all out again!
Your baby isn’t being naughty or intentionally creating mess when he empties everything he can out of its box. After ‘dumping’ the contents of containers, he will carefully fill them again. This stage is developmentally important, and providing opportunities to fill and empty, as well as controlling what access he has to toy storage, will help him. If he can reach it, he will dump it. Now is the time when kitchen cupboards become a favourite place to play!
As you come to the end of the baby year, there’s the dawning realisation that toddlerhood is about to happen. Don’t they say the toddler years are the hardest? If you feel the past 12 months have been difficult, imagining anything even harder might be a challenge! Get a head start with our article: 20 Things Your Toddler Is Trying To Say To You.