Baby’s First Year: Week 5
- October 14, 2020
- by Melissa Lawrence
Hi everyone and welcome to Week 5 with your baby. My own baby Bracey is also five weeks old today, yet he’s only 35 weeks old in terms of gestation. He’s still in the NICU but getting stronger every day and closer to coming home. Let’s talk first about a full-term baby at 5 weeks and then I will discuss premature babies and give you an update on Bracey.
Development and Growth for a 5 Week Old Baby
Any new parent will ask themselves “What growth milestones should I be targeting for a 5-week old baby?” The answer is their own! The average five-week-old baby weighs around nine pounds but your baby might weigh more or less. There is a big range of normal: when compared with other babies of the same age, your infant could be in the 10th or 90th percentile for weight. Keep making sure your baby is getting full feeds (check out my feeding and sleeping schedules below) and has plenty of wet and poopy diapers. Make sure to schedule regular appointments with your pediatrician since your doctor will be checking to see that your baby is growing normally and reaching their developmental milestones.
Grasping Reflexes and New Sounds
At five weeks, your baby is likely getting stronger and can grasp onto things more tightly. Have fun joining pinky fingers together and playing baby tug of war. They also likely are starting to vocalize a wider range of sounds. Keep talking to your baby, narrating what you do because although they can’t understand your words yet, the sounds help them to start to develop language skills. When your baby makes funny sounds, make them right back with funny faces to get a silly conversation going.
How to Promote Baby’s Head and Neck Control
Your baby’s back and upper neck continue to gain strength. Remember to keep doing Tummy Time, perhaps increasing the length of those sessions by a few minutes. Remember to never leave your baby alone on their stomach.
Postpartum Symptoms at 5 Weeks
Hopefully, most of your postpartum symptoms have subsided by Week 5. You might still be having teary episodes or the baby blues. Watch my Week 4 video for more information on those. I am still sweating a lot. I have been taking three or more showers a day because I just feel clammy. I wake up drenched and I sweat while breastfeeding and pumping for Bracey in the NICU, where it is pretty hot. I think my body is still sweating off the fluids it acquired during pregnancy.
When Can I Exercise After Baby?
You are probably asking yourself when you can exercise after giving birth. The general rule is that you can return to exercise when your baby is six weeks old and after you have had your check-up with the OBGYN. It’s a good idea to take it really easy during the first six weeks since your body is adjusting and healing and you don’t want to rip or tear anything. Walking before the sixth-week point is likely fine, but I wouldn’t go for any rigorous hikes. At six weeks, I would start out slow with gentle yoga, stretching, and perhaps very gentle abdominal work. It can take up to a year to get your body back so be patient with yourself and keep reminding yourself how beautiful your body is for what it has brought into the world.
Does Breastfeeding Help you Lose Weight?
If you are breastfeeding and you stick to healthy meals with low sugar, you likely will start to see the weight come off because breastfeeding burns a lot of calories, between 200 and 400 per day. I found that it really helped me. If you are breastfeeding, you might have some cramps while you nurse. This is your uterus shrinking.
Breastfeeding a 5 Week Old Baby
Should I Feed my Baby “On Demand” or Follow a Schedule?
A perennial debate has waged about whether babies should be fed on demand or according to a schedule. Experts advocate feeding babies “on-demand” during the first weeks of life to ensure that babies are getting enough food. I favor schedules but in no case should you not feed a hungry baby! The idea with the schedule is to make sure you are feeding your baby frequently enough and accomplishing full feeds, not to encourage your baby to wait to eat. By schedule, at this point, I mean having a plan for when you will feed your baby, and trying to ensure that each feed is a full feed and that you put your baby down for regular naps between feedings. In my experience, this ensures that your baby has more food than when you feed on demand for a few minutes and see your baby nod off, sometimes for long naps. I have followed this schedule or “feeling and sleeping plan” with my five babies and it has always worked great for me.
Breastfeeding and Sleep Schedule for a 5 Week Old Baby
With that said, around this time, you hopefully will start to notice that your baby sleeps for longer stretches at night, and hopefully, your pediatrician has advised that you can stop waking your baby up at night. In such an event, you might be migrating to an every four hour schedule during the night. In such event — in order to stimulate your breasts to produce breastmilk and encourage a healthy milk supply, and in order to begin to encourage your baby to begin eating most of their food during the day and sleeping longer stints at night — I still recommend making sure to feed your baby every three hours from the beginning of the feed starting with the first morning feed. Depending on when your day begins, your schedule might look something like this:
- 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.*
- 2am (or when baby wakes up)
- 6am (or when baby wakes up).
*Mom tries to sleep too!
Again, feed your baby if they wake up and want to eat earlier but once they have gone down to sleep (other than during the night), do not allow them to sleep past three hours from when they began the prior feed. One additional note: with one or two of my babies, I literally could not keep them awake so after consulting with my pediatrician, I fed them every 3.5 hours. That worked well since they were hungrier and more alert for the feeds. If your pediatrician agrees with this, adjust the schedule accordingly.
Hind Milk versus Fore Milk
When you nurse your baby, you want to make sure to fully empty one breast before turning to the next breast. The richer, more nutritious hind milk comes after the initial milk, called the fore milk, and you want to give your baby as much of this hind milk as possible, versus switching sides and giving them more fore milk from the other breast. To keep track of which breast you next need to feed from, try clipping a safety pin onto the breast you will feed from next. I always favored my right side and go figure, I have always produced more milk from that breast since I consistently encouraged it to produce more milk. This is one of the many reasons I recommend pumping for a few minutes after each breastfeeding session, since this way you ensure that both breasts (versus just one) are being stimulated every few hours to produce milk. Think about it: otherwise, you could go SIX hours between feeds for one breast.
Breastfeeding Tips: How to Get a Good Latch
When your baby is young, your biggest breastfeeding challenge when it comes to figuring out how to breastfeed will be getting a good latch. I’ve been going through this with my premie Bracey this past week, although he’s only 35 weeks in terms of gestation. First, tempt your baby with your nipple by rubbing your nipple back and forth along your baby’s mouth. When your baby pops their mouth open, place their lower lip along the lower side of your aureola and fold their head gently up and in to complete the latch. If the latch hurts and your baby’s mouth is small, break the latch by placing a clean pinky finger between your nipple and your baby’s mouth. If your baby keeps falling off and has trouble getting a grip, try squeezing your breast a few inches from the nipple to make the breast less round. Think of how difficult it is to bite into a round apple! If your breast is very full and hard, express some breastmilk by hand first or pump for 5-10 minutes to make it softer and more malleable so that your baby can latch.
Once your baby has a wide latch, leave them there. If they get sleepy or stop sucking, try gently tapping them or rocking them while maintaining the latch.
You’ll see your baby breaking off the latch. When they do, don’t assume they are full; rather, assume that they need to burp. I’ll do a whole section on burping next week, but in essence, try to stretch out their torso by holding them upright on your knee or stretching them out on your chest. When your baby has burped or if they don’t seem to want to burp, offer the breast again. If they are awake, have burped, and are rejecting the breast, they are most likely full and your job is done — for now!
Bottle-Feeding a 5 week old Baby
How much formula should You Feed a 5 Week Old Baby?
I’m going to throw up the same calculation I’ve shown in earlier weeks for your convenience. Babies under 6 months should be taking 2 to 2.5 ounces of formula per pound of body weight over a 24 hour period. So if your baby weighs 10 pounds, that would equate to 20 to 25 ounces of formula a day or approximately 3-4 ounces of formula per feeding.
Feeding and Sleeping Schedule for a 5 Week Old Formula Fed Baby
Although some experts say you can let you baby go five hours from the beginning of a feed at this stage, I recommend feeding no less frequently than every four hours from the beginning of a feeding following a schedule that looks something like this:
- 7am — 9am nap
- 11am — 1pm nap
- 3pm – 5pm nap
- 7pm – 8pm bedtime
- 11pm – right back to sleep
- 4am (or when baby wakes up) – right back to sleep
Make sure your doctor approves of having your baby wake up on their own at night rather than having you wake them to feed. Follow these guidelines for cleaning and sterilizing bottles or invest in a bottle sterilizer and warmer.
Treatments for Baby Acne on the Face
Just like teenagers, babies can develop acne from the hormones they absorb through the mother. Approach baby acne just the way you did your baby’s umbilical cord: leave it alone. You can try rinsing your baby’s skin with warm water and patting it dry, or some mothers swear by breastmilk, but avoid any soaps or treatments. If your baby’s skin appears especially red or swollen, consult with your doctor.
How to Prevent and Treat Diaper Rashes
When babies are left too long in wet or soiled diapers, their skin can get irritated and a diaper rash can pop up. For this reason, you should change your baby’s diapers frequently. With my first baby, I applied diaper cream after every change, alternating between what most consider to be the best diaper rash creams: a zinc oxide cream and a petroleum jelly ointment. With later babies, I used diaper rash cream only when my baby’s bottom appeared irritated. If the diaper area was a bit red, I used a bit of cream and the redness usually went away quickly. Look for gentle perfume-free wipes and allow your baby’s diaper area to air dry before putting the diaper back on. This can be sort of tricky with boys so try just sort of hovering over them with the diaper for a minute or two before fastening it so that you don’t get peed on! If a diaper rash is very red and inflamed, show it to your pediatrician since in some rare cases medicines are prescribed.
Here’s a summary of tips for preventing diaper rashes: use bigger diapers and don’t over-tighten them; change diapers frequently; rinse baby’s bottom after diaper changes with warm water and allow the diaper area to air dry; apply zinc oxide or petroleum jelly to the diaper area; and let your baby play over a towel while diaper-free!
I never tried the final tip because I’m too much of a wimp and didn’t want to deal with a young baby going to the bathroom everywhere but if you’re that committed, go for it!
You should also experiment with different diapers, keeping in mind that cloth diapers have gained popularity in recent years and gotten even more practical.
Can my Baby Go Outside?
The fresh air and Vitamin D from indirect sunlight are great for you and your baby. Young babies should not be placed directly in the sun since their skin and eyes remain sensitive. Avoid crowded, germy places, and opt for walks. The movement will help your baby sleep while allowing you to exercise. When your baby is young, you want to find ways to get out in the world and battle feeling alone and isolated. Do not sit at home with your baby all day — you’ll get too lonely. So you have to get comfortable feeding your baby outside and having your baby take naps in the stroller. A happy mother equals a happy baby!
How to Breastfeed a Premature Baby
Premature babies are born at all sorts of stages and ages, so you can’t generalize, but let me talk a little bit about strategies I’ve learned for breastfeeding a premie. With premies, if you are nursing, you’ll likely be breastfeeding and breast pumping for much of the day. Many mothers do supplement with formula, which provides important nutrients also, so while you do want to try and get your baby as much breastmilk as possible, don’t feel guilty about formula. Bracey has been receiving a “booster” in his feeding tube with extra vitamins and minerals, by the way.
Bracey follows an every three-hour feeding schedule, eating at 6am, 9am, 12pm, 3pm, 6pm, 9pm, 12am, and 3am. The NICU nurses have begun giving him bottles and he has finished all of some of them, and part of others. Over the last few days, I have had a few successful feeding sessions. They take a lot of patience. I get Bracey to latch on and then he sucks on and off for what can be an hour or an hour and a half. It’s hard to tell how much he is eating but my breast feels emptier afterwards. When I am finished feeding, I pump. If the feeding was very long and I feel like he ate very well, the nurses do not give him milk through the feeding tube. If I feel as if he ate less, they do give him milk through the feeding tube. In essence, I’m just trying to make my own personal feeding station available to the little guy and crossing my fingers that we get better at this job of ours by “baby steps” every day.
As explained above, most of our week was spent learning how to breastfeed! Bracey did great, eating for longer and longer stretches. Yesterday, while I was nursing him during the 12pm feed, he ripped out his feeding tube. He was breastfeeding so well that the doctors said we could keep it out for the day. Unfortunately, we ran into the “I’m tuckered out” problem. At 12, he breastfed for an hour. At 3pm, he breastfed for thirty minutes. But he was too tired to wake up for the 6pm feeding so they had to put back in the feeding tube to make sure he got his milk. I felt kind of upset but am just trying to take it day by day, stay positive, and not rush things. Like all babies, it’s hard to tell when he is eating or when he is using me as a human pacifier: sometimes I hear the milk going down his throat and sometimes I see his little jaw moving and wonder if he’s just having a jolly old time.
Much news on the home front as Bracey’s car seat and stroller arrived and we are due to get his breastfeeding chair or glider next week. Check out my shows on his nursery which I have been filming in stages here and here.
Thanks so much for watching and see you all next week for Week 6!