Baby’s First Year: Week 3
- September 29, 2020
- by Melissa Lawrence
Hi everyone and welcome back to my new series on the first year with your baby. These posts and videos stem from my own experience nurturing five babies in six and a half years and my newest addition Bracey, who was born three weeks ago. Bracey’s currently 33 weeks in terms of gestation and still in the NICU, which I discuss later on in the video. Let’s first take a look at a full-term baby.
We want to hear from you! Tell us about your newborn experience below.
3 Week Old Baby Growth & Development
Newborn Weight Gain
As I explained in Week 2, a full-term baby will continue to grow a lot during their first month, on average two-thirds of an ounce (20-30 grams) per day. By the end of the first month, your baby also will have grown 1.5-2 inches or 4.5-5 centimeters.
Newborn muscle reflexes
As your baby’s muscles are growing stronger, they might be able to lift and turn around their head, which makes Week 3 a good time to introduce Tummy Time, which I explain below. Your baby’s muscle movements also will become more fluid this week as they gain coordination and strength. They will continue to suddenly reach out their arms and legs, but their movements might seem less jerky to you and actually directed at real things.
Although your baby still can only see in black and white, his vision is strengthening and he can now more easily spot close objects like a mobile. Try holding some visually stimulating objects with bright colors and large patters in front of your baby to see if they react. Your baby’s eye color will not be set until towards the end of their first year.
During Week 3, your baby will start to become more alert, yet they will continue to sleep for between 14-18 hours a day. This sleepiness makes finishing a feeding session challenging, which can mean that you end up feeding every hour. For this reason, as I explain more thoroughly in Week 2, I recommend trying to follow a schedule (see below under the Breastfeeding and Bottle-Feeding sections of this post) and trying your best to complete feedings, making sure your baby is awake, full, and rejecting more food. This isn’t easy and you’ll find your baby consistently nodding off when you are trying to feed them. Try to keep your baby awake by changing their diaper or outfit and gently squeezing their fingers and toes.
Skin to Skin or “Kangaroo Care”
Skin to skin refers to the practice of laying a newborn baby directly on her mother’s chest after birth. This practice is said to regulate the baby’s heart rate and breathing and to stimulate milk production. In NICUs, skin to skin or “kangaroo care” is said to provide numerous benefits to premie babies, including assisting with growth, reducing the length of the hospital stay, and promoting breast milk production. It is said that the mother pumps right after skin to skin contact, her milk volume increases. I’ve noticed this myself and even felt the let down when I pumped after kangaroo care.
Skin to skin with a newborn baby
You can also practice skin to skin contact with your newborn baby to stimulate breastfeeding, regulate temperature, and reduce stress, among other advantages. When you are done feeding, remove your baby’s pajama or onesie and place baby on your chest in a belly flop position. I suggest doing this right after you pump (since while you are pumping, you need to wear the strapless nursing bra so you can’t really put the baby skin to skin).
Studies show that skin to skin contact with dads is also advantageous to babies so when you are done breastfeeding or bottle feeding, hand your baby over to dad for some skin to skin TLC. Beware, though, since our baby might look for Daddy’s nipple too!
What is Tummy Time?
Tummy time is the common term for placing infants in the prone position to increase back and neck strength. In 1992, the American Academy of Pediatricians began to recommend that infants sleep on their backs (in the supine position) to try and decrease the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS. Although the rate of SIDS has decreased by 50%, many more infants have developed flat head syndrome from spending too much time on their backs in the crib, car seats, strollers, and bouncers. Along with doing tummy time, you should rotate your baby’s head while they are asleep to reduce the likelihood of their getting flat head syndrome.
When to start Tummy Time?
You might have already asked your pediatrician when to start tummy time. Your pediatrician likely will recommend that you do Tummy Time beginning now at least three times a day for three-five minutes at a time, slowly building up time as your baby gains strength. Place your infant on a clean soft area (a clean activity mat will do or you can use a clean towel), and gently place them on their tummy. Try waving small, soft objects in front of their face to stimulate them. Place soft, safe objects around your baby and encourage them to reach for these objects. You might find that your baby gets very frustrated and cries and fusses at the beginning of Tummy Time. Make sure to closely observe your baby and never leave your baby alone during Tummy Time.
Postpartum Symptoms at 3 Weeks
Postpartum mood swings
You might still be experiencing postpartum mood swings, which I describe in detail during Weeks 1 and 2. I think I have cried every day over the past week for a few minutes. I sort of cry, clean myself out, and then feel better and move on. I am tired because I am sleeping for only about 6 or so hours since I need to get my older kids down, get up around 2 or 3 to pump, and then be up at 6 to wake my older kids up for school. Try to get a lot of rest, eat healthily, drink a ton of water and healthy fluids, and tell yourself to take things one at a time. Make sure you are getting the right vitamins and nutrients including additional iron and Vitamin D. A good breastfeeding supplement might contain all of these. This might be a good time to try to get out and see some friends. Meeting a friend or family member for a walk outside with the baby can lift your spirits. If you have negative thoughts towards yourself or your baby, seek the care of a health care professional immediately.
Breastfeeding a 3 week old Baby
How Much Breastmilk should a 3 Week Old Baby Get?
A 3 week old baby should be consuming between 2-4 ounces of breastmilk per feeding (60-120 ml) for a total of 16-32 ounces of breastmilk per day. This of course varies tremendously.
Newborn Cluster Feeding
As I describe in Week 2, cluster feeding, which are periods during which your newborn wants to eat and suck constantly, might be continuing during this week since your baby might be going through a growth spurt. Hang in there! If you’re going through this with your newborn, you’re likely asking yourself “how long does cluster feeding last?” Although intense, these cluster feeding episodes tend not to last beyond two days.
Clogged Ducts and Mastitis
If your nursing, pay careful attention to your breasts. I’ve already developed three cases of clogged ducts that led to painful mastitis. I think this happened during the night when I went a few hours without pumping and got a clogged duct. It’s difficult to pace things with your breasts. You want to encourage milk supply but sometimes you don’t suck the breastmilk out enough and that can cause clogged ducts that can develop into mastitis. The key thing here is to keep nursing (and pumping) consistently and massage the breasts, which I demonstrate during Week 2. The lactation consultant also suggested that I take lactation-safe probiotics. You can also try these three fermented foods — kombucha, kimchi and kefir (three K’s) — which have natural probiotic effects.
Treating a Milk Bleb or Breastfeeding Pimple
During Week 3, I developed a white pimple on my right breast that I thought was a drop of breast milk. When I tried to wipe it off, it went nowhere. I researched this and learned that these are called nipple blebs or milk blebs and they form at the end of a milk duct or nipple pore and are thought to have been created by breast milk that has become thick and hard. If the milk bleb does hot hurt, leave it alone as it will eventually go away. If it does hurt, you might feel like avoiding breastfeeding but just as is the case with mastitis and clogged ducts, that is the last thing you want to do. Rather, you want to keep breastfeeding and pumping to maintain your milk supply, dislodge the bled, and prevent clogged ducts, engorgement, and mastitis. If the bleb does not go away, try gently squeezing it, massage, and applying heat. I would start with a warm washcloth and also would try letting a hot shower beat down on it. You can also try lecithin which is thought to heal and prevent blocked ducts.
Breast Pumping After Each Feed
As I explain more fully in Weeks 1 and 2, I’m a big fan of pumping for just 5-10 minutes after each feed to stimulate breastmilk supply, even out what you are producing from each breast, and build up a supply of frozen breastmilk. Make pumping efficient and accessible by investing in a strapless pumping bra which leaves your hands free, keeping your pump and equipment clean and ready to go beside your nursing chair, and pumping right after you feed while you burp and hang out with your baby. Place the pumped milk in the fridge and freeze as soon as you get to a good amount (I recommend 4 ounces at the beginning and the moving up to 8 ounces over time) and in no event, later than the following day. It’s best to freeze fresh so do so as soon as you get to your desired amount. Here are the comprehensive guidelines on freezing breastmilk.
Breastfeeding and Sleep Schedule for a 3 Week Old Newborn
Sticking to a schedule with such a sleepy baby ain’t easy, but here’s what I recommend trying to do so that you ensure that your baby is eating enough and awake enough during the day, and to adequately stimulate milk supply:
- 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 11:30pm-1am.*
- 1am — sleep 2:30-4am * (ask your doctor if you can feed every four hours during the night, in which event this feeding will be at 2am).
- 4am — sleep 5:30-7am** (ask your doctor if you can feed every four hours during the night in which case this feeding will be at 6am, and your day will begin a bit earlier).
* Mom tries to sleep too!
If your day begins a bit earlier or later, adjust the feeding time accordingly.
Bottle Feeding a 3 week old Newborn
How much formula should a 3 week old baby eat?
Babies under 6 months should be taking 2 to 2 1/2 ounces of formula per pound of body weight over a 24 hour period. So if your baby weighs 8 pounds, that would mean 2.6 ounces of formula per feeding. This can range, of course, and you might find your baby eating as much as 4 ounces.
Feeding and Sleeping Schedule for a 3 Week Old Baby
Some experts suggest waking your baby after five hours to feed but I would not go this long. Letting your baby sleep five hours from the beginning of a feed will mean going six hours between feeds and this, in my view, is way too long and will lead to more awakenings at night. Even at this stage, you want to encourage your baby to eat and be awake during the day and to sleep and not eat at night. For this reason, I recommend feeding no less frequently than every four hours from the beginning of a feed. Although it is difficult to stick to a strict routine at this stage, keeping track of feedings gets you on the right track. Your schedule might look something like this:
- 7am — 9am nap
- 11am — 1pm nap
- 3pm – 5pm nap
- 7pm – 8pm bedtime
- 11pm – right back to sleep
- 3am – right back to sleep
Caring for a 3 Week old Newborn
How to Give a Newborn a Sponge Bath
You might be wondering how often you should bathe your newborn. By this point, you hopefully have gotten into the habit of giving your baby a bath. You do not need to bathe your baby every day. You can bathe your baby every few days. I liked to do it before dinner and loved the smell of my freshly bathed baby. You can invest in a newborn insert for a baby bath tub or, if you want to avoid the expense of the baby bathtub, you can hold your baby on a towel, locating beside you some safe baby soap and an extra bowl and cup in which to place warm, sudsy water. Cover your baby with the warm, sudsy water and clean them well, and then drizzle the clean water over them to rinse off, avoiding the face. The one prop you will need is another human being!
Why Does my Newborn Cry Nonstop?
Newborn babies tend to cry a lot. This is totally normal. Try to figure out if your baby is hungry, gassy, or tired. Parents tend to assume that every time a baby cries they are tired. But sometimes they just need to burp or are tired. With my first baby, I remember him crying once uncontrollably to the point that I was at my wits’ end. I stretched him out across my chest and bingo, he burped. The crying was over. If you feel that your baby is crying excessively, consult with your doctor as this might be colic or another condition. Cluster feeding during Weeks 2 and 3 is also accompanied by repeated crying and fussiness. After managing this crying and fussiness for so long, don’t feel guilty about stealing a mommy or daddy time out! Leave your baby in a safe place and just take a break. I suggest a big glass of water, stretching on a yoga mat for a few minutes, and a hot shower. When you’re back in 10 minutes, you’ll feel like a new person. And your baby likely will be fast asleep. Consider that some experts actually recommend leaving your baby alone for a few minutes to cry because they believe this encourages baby to self soothe. My mother always said that crying was babies way of expending energy and exercising. So try to take the crying in stride recognizing that it is part of your baby’s development.
Sibling Rivalry over a New Baby
This is the fifth time I’ve brought a new baby into the world while having the feelings of an older sibling in mind, and given the age gap between my older kids and Bracey, probably the most complicated! I’ve developed a three-step approach: 1) involve the older sibling in taking care of the baby and act like the baby is their baby, 2) spend dedicated time with the older sibling(s), 3) give it time. Children tend to get envious of a new baby. When my first child Hedley was only 13 months, his brother Lachlan arrived. He had a sad face for a week. We arranged to go out with his favorite cousin and he broke into laughter; the sad face was history. When Marielle was born, my fifth child, I enlisted the help of the older siblings in taking care of her. I asked them to do the smallest task I could imagine: hand me a diaper, bring me a burp cloth, pat the baby on the head. I allowed all the children to hold the baby. The idea is to make it seem as if the household just became that much more fun and not to present the baby as any type of competitor for Mom’s attention. Rather, you are taking care of the baby together, as part of a team. Do not sink into the guilty mentality of feeling you are doing something negative to your older child. Giving a child a sibling is a wonderful gift and it is great for your older child to realize that they are not the center of the world, to take on responsibility, and to have a new playmate.
I recommend having your children visit the baby in the hospital or birthing center as early as possible and inviting them to help you care for the baby. No matter what you are doing, keep your door open. Do not hide in your room nursing. I’ve been sitting on my bed wearing the pump and my teenage boys march right in. I want them to feel that I am available and that they are still the priority. I also lug the pump into the living room and connect it so that we can watch movies together, and I will do the same with breastfeeding once Bracey gets home. When my kids were younger, I also told them that the new baby had arrived but that they would always be my baby.
Nurturing a Premature Baby
NICUs can be wonderful places but you can burn out and get tired. Being there without too many visitors worsens the problem. I’ve been going in the morning with a thermos of hot decaf coffee and one of herbal tea, plenty of snacks, and a healthy lunch. You have to focus on eating and hydrating well during these long days filled with pumping sessions and Kangaroo Care. The second I arrive, I set myself up, trying to keep everything in one place so that I don’t waste time. I put Bracey on me, and we’re off to the races. Chatting with the nurses and the other moms and dads has really helped, as have the supportive messages I’ve been getting from you guys. So thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you find yourself getting really worn down, talk to the nurses about taking a break. Go outside and sit in the sun. Call a friend. Treat yourself to the most indulgent drink Starbucks offers. You get the idea. New parents need to take care of themselves while taking care of the new baby.
Bracey spent Week 3 happy and cozy in his water bed in the non-intensive care section of the NICU. He’s awake for longer periods of time during which he looks around with his big eyes and pushes out his arms and legs in jerky movements.
Although babies usually do not develop the reflex to suck until Week 34, during Week 3, Bracey started sucking for short periods of time. I tried to get him to latch on when his feedings were beginning and he was hungry. It hurt less than at the beginning (thank God) but it still hurt. I’m amazed by how strong his suck is. It’s stronger than ours.
Bracey has been gaining weight so quickly that the NICU doctors slowed down his food increases slightly so that he does not put any unnecessary pressure on his little body. This is routine practice. By the end of Week 3, Bracey was eating 37ml of milk every three hours, and weighed 1.910 kilos.
I’m so blessed to have my little fighter and I hope this post and video were helpful to you guys.
Thanks for watching and see you back next week for Week 4!