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Baby Care: 5 Week Old Baby

Feb 16, 2022 | 2 minutes Read

You’ve passed the one-month mark and the business of caring for your baby is likely to be getting a little easier. Some parents refer to the baby’s age by their weeks, others by the month. It doesn’t really matter, but weeks tend to be more precise, especially during the first few months.

You could find that there is beginning to be a little more predictability in your days and nights. Your baby still won’t be in a set routine—that won’t come for a few more weeks—but there will be a pattern to how your life is flowing. This can make planning a little easier, not to mention being able to fit in some tasks which are demanding your attention.

Some parents can focus simply on what needs to be done and are able to leave the rest for later. Others are very task-oriented and see each day as an opportunity to complete lots of different jobs. Often, our upbringings, personalities, training, and professional lives have a major influence on how we approach our parenting.

Whichever way you view these early weeks, try to remind yourself every day that they pass very quickly. Housework can wait for you or someone else to do it. Your baby will only be 5 weeks old for 7 days, so make the most of this special time!

Feeding

If your baby is breastfeeding, you might have developed the skills needed to latch your baby effectively by now. Although breastfeeding is a natural process, it can still take weeks before it becomes more comfortable and easier to manage.

If you have found yourself staying home until now because you haven’t felt confident breastfeeding in public, take some small steps to get outside and away from the house. Even doing this for an hour or so can be energizing.

If you will be returning to work soon, you might want to begin working with your baby to take pumped milk from a bottle. This may take some time, and baby may be less resistant if someone other than mom is giving it to them.

If you are bottle feeding or pumping, the process of cleaning the bottles and pump equipment will have become second nature by now. Work out a system which is practical, works for you, and minimizes the amount of time you need to invest in it.

Many parents find preparing a day’s worth of formula and storing it in the refrigerator is a good time saver. Check the instructions on the can of formula regarding storage, as some manufacturers recommend preparing each bottle immediately before feeding.

Sleeping

Your baby will probably still be sleeping between most of his feeds, but perhaps not. Expect a couple of wakeful, even fussy, periods each day when your baby may only be calm when you are holding him. Remember to always place your baby on their back to  sleep and use a swaddle blanket or wrap if needed to help him settle.

If the weather is hot, he may only need a diaper and onesie. If it is cold, avoid overheating with too many layers of clothes. Feel your baby’s back, between the shoulders and the back of the neck to gauge their temperature. Overheating puts a baby at a higher risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

If breastfeeding is going well, consider introducing a pacifier when you lay baby down. Pacifiers have been found to offer protection against SIDS.

If your baby has slept well until now, try not to see this as a guarantee that he will always sleep well. Babies change their sleep patterns constantly and sleep will often reflect other changes going on in their bodies. Reaching a new developmental stage, changes in their sleep cycle, changes in the environment, and changes in their nutritional needs can all disrupt the way they have been sleeping. They might also change sleeping patterns for no reason at all. Parents need to adapt their caregiving to these changes and not let what looks like a setback be discouraging. Parenting is a constant process of learning and adapting, right along with your baby!

Behavior and development

Your baby may be starting to smile this week and trying to fix and focus their eyes on your face. The best time to look for smiles is in the morning when your baby first wakes up or after they have been fed. Talk gently and get up close. Your baby’s vision is still immature, and it won’t progress to being more in focus until around 6 months of age.

Don’t forget to give your baby supervised tummy time each day. Place some toys around them, especially those with a lot of black, white, and red, as your baby will respond more readily to these colors.

Take lots of photos of this special age. You’ll be amazed when you look back at how small your baby was.

Involve your older children in the new baby’s care as much as possible. Sibling relationships are built with time and lots of interaction. You can’t force your toddler to connect with their new sibling. They might feel a little put out at having a new baby in the house. This will come with time and loving patience.

Crying

Many babies seem to find their lungs between weeks 5 and 6 and don’t find the off switch until close to 12 weeks! It is not well understood why some babies cry a lot, but some do. Some experts think that excessive crying is due to babies feeling overwhelmed by stimuli, being overtired, or having uncomfortable gas. Remember that crying is the only way they can communicate that something is not right.

If you find it challenging to hear your baby cry, you are not alone. Your baby’s cry is uniquely designed to be uncomfortable for you to hear. You are not meant to ignore it, so don’t try. Your baby is too young to change their behavior as a result of how you care for it or what your responses will be. Research has shown that babies cry less, and for shorter periods overall, when their parents respond promptly to them.

If nothing works to comfort your baby and you feel yourself getting frustrated or angry, it is okay and appropriate to lay your baby in the crib and leave the room for a few minutes. Do not go back in until you have calmed down. Call a friend or family member and ask for help. Never shake your baby to make him stop crying. Babies’ brains can be injured very easily when they are shaken.

Talk to your pediatric healthcare provider if your baby is crying a lot. They will look for illness or injuries, and make sure nothing is physiologically wrong. Your baby could have colic which is a fancy word to describe a baby that cries excessively for no apparent reason. Thankfully, babies grow out of this typically by week 12.

Bathing your baby

If it is summer and the weather is hot, bathing your baby every day might be a relaxing and fun way to cool down. Use a gentle emollient bath wash which is less likely to dry your baby’s skin.

If you notice cradle cap on your baby’s scalp, wash their hair more often with a mild baby shampoo. Afterwards, gently go over their scalp with a soft brush to help remove the scales. You can also soften the crusts of cradle cap with some olive, almond, or mineral oil. Gently massage it into the area before washing. Cradle cap is a harmless skin condition and will go away on its own.

Your emotions

Try to get out with your baby every couple of days. Although it may be tempting to just stay home, it is important that you maintain some contact with the outside world. Humans are social creatures and new mothers are not meant to be isolated. Make a point of connecting with a friend, a relative, or someone you trust this week. If there is a sibling, take your older child and baby to the park, or over to a friend’s house to play.

If you find yourself sad, anxious, or tearful, reach out to your partner or a friend for support.

If you are feeling depressed, have no appetite, feel very anxious, or are having trouble sleeping, talk to your healthcare provider as you might be experiencing postpartum depression.

Your physical recovery

By now, you should almost be feeling back to your normal self. You have recovered fully from the birth, even if your weight is not back to normal. Losing weight gained during pregnancy can take up to 12 months and now is not the time to be cutting back on your calories, especially if you are breastfeeding.

If you are breastfeeding, you may find you are hungry all the time. Try to fill your body with lots of healthy, energy sustaining foods which will help to nurture your body and the milk you are making for your baby.

The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.