Baby’s First Year: Week 9
- November 11, 2020
- by Melissa Lawrence
Hello, hello and welcome to Week 9 with your baby! My own baby Bracey is 9 weeks old today but 39 weeks in terms of his gestational age, so in some ways, he’s at the stage of a typical newborn. Let’s talk about a full term baby at 9 weeks and then I will give you an update on Bracey.
Growth and Development Milestones of a 9 Week Old Baby
How Much Does a 9 Week Old Baby Measure and Weigh?
From birth, your nine week old has gained approximately 2.8-3.9 pounds (1.3-1.78 kilos) and he’s grown about 1.125-2.25 inches or approximately 3-6 centimeters.
The Importance of Music, Talking and Laughs for your Baby
Your baby’s hearing by nine weeks is highly developed. Talk to your baby while making eye contact, narrating what you do and using as rich a vocabulary as you can to stimulate language development. Laugh with your baby. I make my stupid jokes that my older kids don’t laugh at. This is your opportunity to be a successful stand up comic since at least no one will be booing! Sing and play music to your baby. Try soothing classical music for sleep and feeding times. And for playtime, consider rhythmic children’s music with beats and lyrics, which has been shown to be particularly beneficial to baby’s language development.
What activities and exercises can I do with my 9 week old baby?
For babies aged 0-3 months, here are 5 beneficial activities to engage in daily.
Talk, Sing and Play Music to Stimulate Language Development
Make language development part of your hourly and daily routine, as I described above and in Week 8.
As described in detail in Week 3, put your baby on their tummy for a few minutes several times a day to encourage back and neck strength, coordination and neurological development. You should be building up on the duration of Tummy Time, aiming to do an hour a day by three months. Tummy Time is a key precursor to sitting up, crawling, cruising and eventually walking. To vary Tummy Time: employ a mirror; wave brightly colored, large-pattered toys in front of your baby and encourage them to reach for these toys; change locations around the house, going from nursery to living room to elsewhere; and try break dancing, gently shifting your baby’s hands, arms and elbows while they are on their tummy so that they get used to changing positions.
When to Start Tummy Time for Premature Babies
Many parents of premies ask themselves when to start Tummy Time. Check with your doctor as it all depends on your baby. In Bracey’s case, since he’s now 39 weeks in terms of his gestational age, I’ve started to do just a few minutes of Tummy Time per day. I’m doing Tummy Time on the changing table after a diaper change (making sure to carefully guard him so that he does not squirm off the side). This idea came to me when I was putting a pajama on Bracey that buttoned in the back and when I researched it, I realized it is a recommended practice as long as you do it safely.
Kangaroo Care, Holding, and Hugs
Hugs, kisses, holding and in particular “kangaroo care” or skin to skin contact are excellent ways to bond with your baby and promote their neurological development. Putting your baby in their crib for naps and sleep is a great idea, but during the day, you want to physically interact with your baby and give them as much affection as possible. Leaving your baby in a bouncer or bouncey seat, swing, or pack and play for long stretches of their awake time is not ideal. In fact, the bouncey seat, swing and car seat can cause flat head syndrome and hamper baby’s physical development. Now, we all have things to do so one suggestion is to get a baby carrier that allows you to perform small household tasks while wearing your baby.
Infant and Baby Massage
Research indicates that infant massage, in addition to providing the opportunity for physical contact with your baby, can help your baby sleep, affect infant hormones and reduce fussiness and crying. Try doing a regular massage after diaper changes or Tummy Time so that you can make it part of your regular schedule. Massage your baby’s stomach and torso in a circular motion, and gently press on their arms, legs, hands and toes. I also try to massage Bracey’s legs, feet and arms while I am nursing him.
Baby Exercises: Sit Ups and Pilates
Paulus likes to help Bracey do sit ups. You can do this by holding your baby’s hands and leading them into the sit up but make sure to do this with one hand while supporting the head and neck with the other since you want to make sure your baby’s head does not drop backwards. You can also bicycle your baby hips and legs and rotate their arms. Your baby’s joints already are very flexible so these exercises promote circulation more than stretching.
The Importance of Mom Friendships
Look for a good pal or two who are going through the same things as you so that you can experience motherhood alongside each other. Seek out kind, supportive, non-judgmental moms who are not competitive. (The last thing you need is a friend who brags about how perfect her baby is, and aren’t we all so over that one, right? Moms who pretend their babies are perfect aren’t telling the whole story and this stems from insecurity.) It’s fun to meet friends for walks or picnics with your baby. Sharing your baby’s ups and downs, milestones and challenges, will be a must for you during the first year. Mom friends with similarly aged babies can also prove to be a great resource for each other as you can share resources and tricks for caring for baby, product preferences, and local activities.
Breastfeeding and Sleeping Schedule for an 9 Week Old Baby
Ladies and gents, we are still following the every three hour feeding schedule but I would definitely check with your doctor to see if you can move to an every 3.5 hour feeding schedule during the day. Most likely, your doctor has been telling you for a while that you do not need to wake up your baby at night to feed. Hopefully, this has entailed longer stretches of sleep at night for you! Note that you likely have dropped a feeding, which is why there are only now seven feeds. Hooray!
If your baby wakes up earlier that these scheduled feeding times or wants to eat earlier than anticipated, by all means, feed them and modify the schedule accordingly:
- 7am — sleep 8:30-10am.*
- 10am – sleep 11:30-1pm.
- 1pm — sleep 2:30-4pm.
- 4pm — sleep 5:30-7pm.
- 7pm — sleep 8:30-10pm.
- 10pm — sleep at 11:30pm. This can be called the “top off” feed since you are trying to fill your baby up to sleep for longer at night. *Might be a great time to have your partner do the feed so that you can get to bed early.*
- 2-3 am (or when baby wakes up)
Baby and Mom Bedtime Routine
You should try to sleep from 8:30-10 ( I never can since I have older kids), from 11:30pm until when baby wakes up, and afterwards until baby’s first morning feed. Now, a key part of getting your rest when you have a young baby is being organized. Before the last feed, be ready for bed: pajamas on, teeth brushed, sleep mask at the ready, and, in my case, your breathe right nasal strip stuck onto your nose. As soon as your baby is finished nursing, dive into bed. Every minute counts and you cannot spend another half hour readying yourself when you could be getting shut eye.
Pumping after Each Feed
Keep trying to pump for just a few minutes after each breastfeeding session to even out how much you are asking each breast to produce, to stimulate breast milk supply, and to store up frozen milk. Undoubtedly, you won’t be able to do this after every single feed but I would try anyway, especially after the morning feed when you likely have extra milk. Of any single piece of advice I ever received regarding breastfeeding, the idea of pumping after each feed is the one that helped me the most!
Organizing a Breast Pump Station
In order to make pumping easy, accessible and efficient, gather the following items together on a little table next to your breastfeeding chair: your pump (keep it plugged in and ready to go), your breast shields, bottles, tubing and other breast pump accessories; a burp cloth to catch drops of milk as you remove the pump; and your hands free pump bra. You can’t be running around looking for this stuff when you finish a nursing session, which will cost you time. Buy extras of these breast pump accessories and keep everything in a plastic container within hands reach. When your baby is small, you can then burp them and pump at the same time! It takes a bit of maneuvering, but it’s possible. Again just 10 minutes will make a world of difference. You might end up with just an ounce of milk but guess what, do this 8 times and you are freezing an 8 ounce bag of breast milk at the end of the day. Love that!
Bottle Feeding a 9 Week Old Baby
The calculation for formula feeding amounts remains the same from months 0-6 and I will pop it up here for your convenience. Over a 24 hour period, you want your baby to consume 2-2.5 ounces of formula multiplied by their body weight. To see how much to give per feeding, divide that by the number of feedings per day. For example: 11 lb. baby x 2-2.5/6 feedings =3.6-4.5 ounces of formula per feeding.
Try to start your first feeding around 7 or 8 a.m., and feed your baby until she has lost interest in the bottle, burped, and seems full. Around 1.5 to 2 hours after the feed began, put your baby down for a nap. And no later than 4 hours after the first feed, wake your baby for the next feed.
Feeding and Sleeping Schedule for 9 Week Old Baby
- 7am — 9am nap
- 11am — 1pm nap
- 3pm – 5pm nap
- 7pm – 8pm bedtime
- 11pm – right back to sleep
- 3-4am (or when baby wakes up) – right back to sleep
Over time, your baby will drop the 3am-4am feeding, and eventually, the 11 p.m. feeding as well. This schedule will allow your baby to get a lot of the food they need during the day so that they eventually will sleep longer stretches overnight. This method has really worked for me.
Overcoming Nipple Confusion with a Premature Baby
Nipple confusion is common among premie babies since they invariably receive bottles in the NICU and drinking from the bottle requires less effort so they can easily can come to prefer it. Experts advise breastfeeding mothers to wait a month until breastfeeding is well established so as not to cause nipple confusion, but this is often not possible with premies who are in NICUs since during the night, bottles will be given.
My experience with Bracey has taught me that overcoming a preference for the bottle takes patience and perseverance. Our first week home, after getting our marching orders from the NICU, we gave Bracey three bottles a day, alternating between breast and bottle. Bracey gained about 20 grams a day and our pediatrician was happy about that.
Being a die-hard breastfeeder, I then went down to one bottle per day during our second week home. This wasn’t enough and Bracey gained little weight (only 20 grams). I was beside myself and, as I parlayed last week, I spent a day sobbing, feeling like a failure. When I came up for air, I did some research and took stock of the situation. It was taking Bracey too much time and energy to suck the milk out of the breast, and this in turn was slowing us down, resulting in fewer than eight feeds per day. I spoke with my sister in law, who is a pediatrician. She told me you just have to get the food into the baby every three hours and not stress about how. This was hard for me because I was very stressed and worried about the nipple confusion but I did it. I then spoke with the head NICU nurse, my good friend Tricce. Tricce advised breastfeeding first for just 15 minutes, and then giving the bottle. This would keep Bracey on the breast so that he hopefully remembered how nice that was, but still ensure that he got the food he needed at regular intervals. So during the first five days of Bracey’s second week home, I started on the breast for about 15 minutes only on one side (to guarantee the richer hind milk), and then my kids topped off Bracey with a bottle while I pumped. Several times a day, we went right to the bottle. It worked! Bracey gained 70 grams a day for a total of 350 grams during the five days between his pediatrician appointments.
Starting two days ago, once we had the good news from this appointment, Bracey and I engaged in a series of small battles. Bracey had already — after just five days — gotten less interested in the breast. I felt totally depressed but I wasn’t going to give up. I kept him on the breast for about 30 minutes a few times a day until he began to suck. Sometimes he did not start for about 20 minutes. He hung out there with his eyes wide open saying to me “where’s my nice easy bottle?” I basically said, sorry buddy! Sooner or later, Bracey would give in and start sucking because he was hungry and he didn’t know an easier option was coming. We have now had some successful feeding sessions where he gets all the milk from the breast, and then sleeps, waking up three or even four more hours later to feed. I am still going to give three bottles a day to make sure he has this food, and frankly, this is easier for me given all I have going on with the other kids.
Breastfeeding directly from the breast is important since it will keep your milk supply up over time and also since the sucking motion is good for baby’s development. It’s also an amazing experience. So don’t give up mamas!
So my advice to you all is, don’t give up. Once your doctor has said that you can go back to breastfeeding a few times, be patient, and try to get your baby to nurse during these sessions. Try for at least 15 minutes and maybe 30 (check with your doctor). You have to strike the balance between making sure your baby converts to the breast and not tiring him out. This method has been working for me so I really hope it works for you all.
At his recent pediatrician’s appointment, Bracey weighed in at 2.820 kilos or 6.2 pounds. He looks a lot fuller in the face. He spends much of his day in his siblings’ arms, but I am trying to get him into the crib for naps as much as possible and he sleeps in his crib at night. Last night, he ate at 11pm, at 2:30am, and then at 6:30am. Bracey has very dry skin on his forehead that is scaling off and a bit of baby acne. My kids are wigged out about the skin but I have explained that this is normal. I plan to ask his doctor next week what I can apply to the dry skin. His little nails are long and I need to cut them. That’s on my to-do list for next week.
We’re having a lot of fun. It’s fun to change him, feed him and cuddle with him and I’m so proud of how far he’s come in his short life. Having a premie is amazing because you go through so much together and by the time they reach their birthdate, you feel as if you have already lived a million lives.
Thank you, Bracey, for this amazing experience. We love you. And sending love to all of you who are reading and watching too! See you back next week for Week 10.