Your 7 week old baby
These first weeks of feeding, growth and development are starting to show, as your 7 week old baby begins to look less like a newborn.
She’s starting to stretch out more and doesn’t always adopt the foetal position like she used to.
Her very first attempts at controlled movement of her arms and hands will start to appear.
Your 7 week old baby will be flashing her new smile at every face she sees and will be gradually spending a little more time awake.
Your body should have recovered if you had an uncomplicated birth, however, if you had a c-section or needed stitches, you will still be healing. You might like to try our simple herbal bath soak recipes to rest and repair your body.
If you haven’t had your six-week check-up, make sure to do so before you begin any exercise plans. Be sure to have a chat about contraception too. If you aren’t breastfeeding, you may already have your first period since the birth, and your fertility may have fully returned! Read more in our article, menstruation, your period and ovulation after baby.
Feeding your 7 week old baby
If breastfeeding is going well, you might be starting to see shorter feeds as your 7 week old baby becomes more efficient at milk removal as she matures. She is less likely to doze off during feeds, though it will still happen occasionally, and she is probably satisfied after feeding from only one side. This is normal, though it doesn’t hurt to offer the second breast, just to be sure she doesn’t want it. If you offer the first side, then change her nappy, she might attach to the second breast for a short time before falling asleep. You can then transfer her if you wish. If your baby wakes when you put her down, this is very normal behaviour! Read about why babies always seem to wake up the minute you put them down, here.
If you have needed to use a nipple shield to successfully get your baby to breastfeed, you could be worried about continuing to use it. In the past, nipple shields were associated with reduced milk production, however, modern silicone designs do not seem to cause similar issues. There’s generally no rush to wean from a nipple shield, so it’s fine to wait until you feel ready to make the transition. You might like to read our article, nipple shields: 6 steps to weaning off a nipple shield.
You might be worried that bottle-feeding your baby — occasionally or full-time — means you won’t bond as well as if you were breastfeeding. It’s important to keep in mind that mothers and babies are hard-wired to bond with each other, and while the physiology of breastfeeding naturally enhances that bond, there are many other ways to do so as well. Babywearing, baby massage and bottle nursing all offer the hormonal stimulus and closeness of breastfeeding.
Skin-to-skin contact is important for all mothers and babies, not just those who breastfeed. Feeding in your arms is important from a bonding and safety perspective. Never prop your bottle-fed baby to feed with pillows or other aids to support the bottle. She will not only miss out on valuable connection with you during feeds, but propping during feeds is a choking hazard.
Sleeping and settling
Your 7 week old baby is in-between two Wonder Weeks, and still near the peak of the crying stage. You can still expect her to be fairly unsettled and more wakeful during this period.
You might be looking at techniques to help settle your 7 week old baby. Some people might suggest for you to begin sleep training your baby. Those supporting you might even suggest you book into a sleep school or arrange to see a sleep consultant. There is so much to consider before you decide to go down one of those pathways.
Night feeding continues to be an important part of your baby’s food intake for many months. Sleeping for long periods during the day or night will generally reduce the number of feeds below the typical 8-12 feeds of a fully breastfed baby. Although some books might suggest you can stop all night feeds by 12 weeks – or even six weeks, in some cases – these practices are not supported by evidence-based research and may jeopardise your breastfeeding relationship.
Most qualified sleep experts agree that any form of sleep training is inappropriate in the first six months – perhaps even the first 12 months. The growth of your baby’s brain and body in the first year is the most rapid in her whole life. Fuelling that growth around the clock is vital. While some babies will naturally have their longest sleep cycle during the night, the majority don’t. Self-settling is not something young babies can or should do – if they wake, they need to feed, not go back to sleep.
Before you make a decision about any form of sleep training, it’s important to do some research and look at all your options. The two commonly known techniques are Cry It Out (CIO) and Controlled Crying (sometimes known as Controlled Comforting but they use the same approach). Both are classified as extinction methods of sleep training and should be used with caution – if at all.
See our articles, 6 Educated Professionals Who Advise Against Cry It Out and Controlled Crying – What Parents Need To Know, which look at concerns about these methods in more detail.
If you are looking for gentle approaches to nighttime parenting, there are some excellent books which will help you develop settling techniques, which limit distress for parents and babies and support the need for night feeds. You can find some listed here: BellyBelly’s Top 6 Baby Sleep Books.
Play and development
The central nervous system – the hardware which runs the human body – develops from the top-down and the inside out. So one of the first signs of physical control you will notice is your baby’s ability to hold her head upright, as her neck muscles begin to respond to message from the brain. Holding her head up is hard work for undeveloped muscles though, so she will only be able to sustain it for short periods before needing to rest.
Lifting her head during tummy time and turning her head to the source of sound or movement when lying on her back are all opportunities to work on this muscle development. Babywearing allows her to practice holding her head up independently, with your chest available to take frequent rest breaks.
Many babies cry inconsolably in the first three months and often this crying is labelled as “colic”. But what is colic and how can you work out if this is the cause of your baby’s crying? Learn more in our article, Colic – What Is Colic? 5 Common Questions Answered.