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Baby Care: 6 Week Old Baby

Feb 16, 2022 | 2 minutes Read

Six weeks of age is seen by many parents as a milestone. The initial newborn period for their baby is over and family life tends to have settled into more of a routine. You might find it difficult to remember life before you had your baby and wonder just what you did with all your time.

It is common for parents to feel as if the weeks since their baby’s birth have passed by in a blur. This can leave a lot of parents, particularly mothers, feeling more than a little sad. If this sounds like you, try to have some time each day where you just sit and enjoy your baby. The best time to do this may be when you aren’t doing anything specific other than cuddling and looking into their little face.

You and your partner will have both earned the pleasure of this, so enjoy every minute!

Feeding

If you are breastfeeding, you could find the baby is not as demanding as they were in the earlier weeks. There is likely to be more regular spacing between the feeds during the day, with more predictability.

As your baby grows and their energy requirements change, so will their caloric needs. During these growth spurts, you may wonder if your milk supply has dropped. Your baby’s increase in suckling will cause your breasts to increase its supply, so give it a day or two and your supply should catch up.

If you are bottle feeding you may find your baby is demanding more formula. This is common at around 6 weeks as they go through a growth spurt. The recommended feeding volume from 5 days of age to 3 months is about 2½ ounces of formula per pound of body weight, per day. Check with your baby’s healthcare provider or nurse who will weigh and measure your baby and plot their growth on a growth chart.

Sleeping

If your baby is waking from sleep after only a short time, you are not alone. This is a common behavior at this age. Sleep cycles are short, and babies will often lightly awaken through the night, whether they are hungry or not. This is considered normal and healthy.

Aim to place them in their crib when they are drowsy but still slightly awake. Although it is always important to place your baby to sleep on their back, make sure they have some time on their tummy each day. When they are awake and you are watching them is the best time to do this. If your baby is not used to being on their tummy, he may not have much tolerance for long stretches of time. Start with a few minutes each day and work up.

Gradually, they will become more used to it and you will see the benefits as they develop strength in their neck, shoulders, and upper body. It is from this position that they will begin to push themselves up on their knees and eventually crawl.

Behavior and development

In the 6 weeks since your baby’s birth, they are likely to have gained between 1 and 2 pounds. Their growth rate will be highly individual, but you will notice those little newborn-size clothes getting a little tight. Your baby may gain more weight in some weeks than others, which is normal.

Look at weight gain over a few weeks or over a month to give you a more accurate picture of normal variation. Try not to compare your baby with others of the same age. Although it can be tempting to do this, it doesn’t really achieve anything and often just creates concern and worry.

Your baby is likely to be smiling by now, giving you some positive feedback for all your hard work! Smiling is a powerful way for babies and parents to communicate with each other, especially in early life when speech and language have not yet developed.

Crying

For many babies, the period from 6 weeks onwards can be the start of a more wakeful and fussy time. Crying tends to peak in this age group and despite years of careful research, the reasons remain unproven.

Some experts believe that babies in this age group become easily overstimulated and crying is a means to communicate their frustration. Overtiredness, discomfort, boredom, hunger, or a need for affection are some of the reasons why babies might cry.

You will find there is not one sure way to calm your baby. Most respond to being rocked and cuddled, and having their parents close by.

There are likely to be times when your baby cries and you have no idea why. Check first for obvious reasons such as hunger, tiredness, being uncomfortable, having a dirty diaper, or perhaps a tummy ache from gas.

Figuring out why babies at this age cry can be very difficult. Generally, they will settle by feeding, rocking, going for a walk or ride in the car, taking a warm bath, or a tummy massage. Ask for help from your partner, family, and friends, and reach out to your healthcare provider or nurse if your efforts are not working.

Hygiene

You’ll have worked out the process of diaper changing, bathing and general hygiene by this stage. Aim to make these times as enjoyable as you can. After all, they soon add up to become a major part of your everyday life.

Your emotions

You are likely to still be feeling tired and worn out. At 6 weeks, your baby may be having longer, uninterrupted sleep period overnight, allowing you to have a little more sleep yourself. But tiredness is a fact of life in early parenting and it can take months before parents stop feeling exhausted all the time.

The symptoms of postpartum depression and exhaustion can be very similar. Many women worry they are depressed when they experience ongoing feelings of sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion. If you are concerned you may be depressed, talk with your midwife, obstetrician, or family healthcare provider.

Your physical recovery

At 6 weeks postpartum, you will need to have your postpartum check with your doctor or midwife. By 6 weeks your uterus and pelvic organs should have returned to their pre-pregnancy state. If you are still bleeding or have any concerns, write them down so you don’t forget to ask.

Returning to work

Some women will need to return to work when their baby is about this age. This will be an adjustment for the whole family with a transition to childcare and needing to be very organized.

If you are breastfeeding, you will need to make sure your baby will take pumped milk from a bottle. Find out what your workplace offers in terms of specific areas to take breaks to pump.

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.