six weeks

What Does A Baby Have At Six Weeks?

At six weeks, it may feel like your baby was just born, or it may feel like you have known them for a lifetime. 

You and your infant have gone through many changes and growth in the past few weeks, and this one will hold a lot of new, exciting developments for both of you—from possibly heading back to work to growth spurts. 

Here is what you can expect from your 6-week-old baby’s development.

Your 6-Week-Old Baby’s Growth

Your baby is eating up a storm these days, taking in as much as 24 to 32 ounces of breast milk or formula each day. 

Feedings should be spread out to every three to four hours or so (and maybe even more spread out at night), though demand feeding is still generally the way to go, especially for the breastfed set.

Of course, with all that eating comes lots of pooping. So your baby will still be averaging a few bowel movements each day. 

And with all that’s going on in that area, it’s no wonder he isn’t sitting on a pretty bottom.

Yes, diaper rash can crop up as long as your baby is in a diaper, thanks to a combination of too much moisture, too little air, friction, irritation and, of course, pee and poop.

The best cure for diaper rash is prevention — making sure the baby’s bottom is clean and dry before re-diapering, spreading ointment or cream on that dry bottom, and changing him often so he’s not sitting in a wet or dirty diaper for too long.

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6-Week Growth Spurt and Pumping Plans

Your baby may be about to embark on a growth spurt this week, and that could mean a fussy period and constant demands to be fed. 

Of course, it’s just when you thought you’d figured out a feeding routine. 

If you’re nursing, offer your baby the breast as often as they want since the demand from your baby will increase your supply in turn. 

And, though some moms may have been pumping milk (or supplementing with formula) for weeks, many lactation experts feel that it’s wise to wait until the six-week mark (if there are no issues with nursing) to introduce pumping and bottle-feeding expressed milk.

You are pumping between nursing sessions is also an excellent way to boost your supply to cope with that growth spurt, even if it seems like the last thing you want to do. 

If you plan to breastfeed for the long haul, you may soon want the flexibility to pump milk to boost your freedom and make it possible to leave your baby for more than a couple of hours at a time. 

If so, now is the time to invest in a high-quality breast pump and a hands-free pumping bra. 

Both items are unbelievably weird contraptions to outsiders, but they can be life-changing for nursing moms. 

And if your breasts leak regularly, you may be able to save enough milk to avoid pumping altogether with these genius “milk savers.”

Milestone Update

Aside from feeding more often, your baby is growing by leaps and bounds this week. 

Your baby’s hearing is fully developed now, and they can remember you when you are separated, which means that now—or soon—you’ll get gurgles, wiggles and coos when you return. 

While all milestones are approximate and vary by several weeks, most babies gain more neck control by week six, learning to turn their heads to follow you or find a nipple and lifting their heads during tummy time

The wiggles will also accelerate as your baby works to figure out how to fire up their arms and legs and aim their fists and feet to the best effect. 

Your baby’s focus and attention span are also growing, so giving them plenty to look at, listen to and feel will help them stay interested. 

They will also show you a few new tricks, including those long-awaited smiles and giggles. The coming weeks are magical for all those firsts!

At six weeks old, there’s a lot of growth happening, but your baby may not hit all of these milestones just yet. 

These are the skills and developmental milestones they are working toward and should able to master soon.

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Body

  • Holds their head up during tummy time or when you are holding them on your chest
  • Makes more smooth movements with their arms and legs

Brain

  • The first smile! “Smiles” up to this point may have been more related to gas, so this is an inspiring moment when your little one will start to smile for real at you and others around them.
  • Begins to self-soothe. Your infant is beginning to learn important ways to calm down, such as sucking on a fist when feeling upset.
  • Tries to keep a parent in their line of sight. Babies at this age love looking at human faces more than anything, so this week, you’re the star of the show.
  • Turns head toward sounds.
  • “Coos” and gurgles in attempts to “talk” to you.
  • Gets bored. You won’t hear whines of “I’m bored!” just yet, but even at this young age, your baby can get fussy or irritable without new stimulation or activity and may cry when feeling bored.
  • Follows items, like a finger or a rattle, with his eyes across the room or as it moves.

Sleeping

If your baby is waking up after only having a short sleep, don’t feel alone. 

This is expected behaviour at six weeks, where 20-minute sleep cycles seem to become the norm. 

You’ve probably suspected that this is nowhere near long enough for your baby to feel rested – and you are right.

Try not to always nurse, rock or feed your baby to sleep, and aim to place them into their cot while they’re awake.

Although it is always important to settle your baby to sleep on their back, make sure they have some tummy time each day. 

The best time to do this is while you’re watching. Although it’s important, don’t expect your baby to be able to tolerate too much tummy time at six weeks – a few minutes will suffice.

As they gradually become more used to it, you will notice their neck and upper body strength improving.

Behaviour and Development

In the six weeks since your baby’s birth, your little one is likely to have gained between 500 grams – 1 kilogram. 

Their growth rate will be highly individual, but you will notice those newborn outfits getting a little tighter and tighter. 

Your baby may gain more weight in some weeks than others, so don’t worry if that happens.

It can be helpful to look at weight gain over a few weeks to a month. This will 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 achieve anything and often creates unnecessary concern and worry.

Your baby is likely to be smiling by now, giving you some well-deserved feedback for all your hard work. 

Smiling is a powerful way for babies and their parents to communicate, especially when speech and language have not yet developed.

Crying

For many babies, the period from 6 weeks onwards can start a more unsettled, wakeful time. 

Crying tends to peak in this age group, and despite years of careful research, the actual reason remains unproven.

Some experts believe that babies of this age become easily over-stimulated, and crying is a means of venting their frustration.

Overtiredness, discomfort, boredom, hunger or a need for affection are only some of the reasons why babies cry.

There is no sure way to calm your baby, although most respond to being rocked and cuddled by their parents. 

Babies cannot regulate their own emotions, which is why they are so dependent on their parents.

Your baby will need your help to feel safe and secure. Because they won’t yet know the difference between night and day, you will need to be on call for them 24/7.

There are likely to be times when your baby cries, and you have no idea why.

Check for the obvious such as hunger, tiredness, a wet or dirty nappy, being uncomfortable or perhaps a tummy ache. 

The reality is that working out why babies cry can be challenging. Generally, they will calm with feeding, rocking, soothing or having a warm bath. Ask for help and support from your partner, family or healthcare practitioner.

Postpartum & New Baby Tips

The Colic Carry

Sometimes when your baby is crying inconsolably, what he needs is more pressure.

No, really. Pressure on a baby’s tummy can relieve gas, which is thought to be one of the major causes of ordinary crankiness and even colic.

Try the “colic carry”: Lay your baby on his tummy on your forearm, cradling his head in your hand. Use your other hand to stabilise him and rub his back.

You can also try laying him tummy-down across your lap, with one of your knees under his stomach and the other supporting his head. 

Or hold him upright, with his abdomen on your shoulder, while you rub and pat his little back.

Another gas reliever: Put him on his back and push his knees up to his tummy for 10 seconds. Release and repeat. Burp!

Colic, “happy Spitting”, or Reflux?

By week six, you may be coming to terms with recurring problems, from reflux to colic to worries over your milk supply. 

Infancy is rarely smooth sailing, so remember that when you compare notes. Every baby is good at some things and fussy about others, and this parenting thing is a roller coaster! 

With reflux and colic, your baby will have similar symptoms to many other infants, only more acute. 

Listen to your intuition and follow up with your baby’s doctor if you sense that a small problem has become a big one.

Spit-up is a fact of life for many infants, and it may be little more than a laundry problem, no matter what well-meaning people may tell you. 

But if your baby seems to be in pain, has forceful vomiting, isn’t gaining weight or has trouble breathing, it may be gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). 

While there are treatments for reflux, colic isn’t as clear-cut (to the dismay of any baby parent who cries inconsolably for hours and hours), and it peaks at this age. 

There are no definitive causes or remedies for this condition, which makes babies wail and drives parents to frustration and despair, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek help from your baby’s doctor or your healthcare provider for the horrors of colic. 

Talking to other moms who have dealt with colic can also help, if for no other reason than to be reassured that it eventually passes.

A trick that worked to soothe one baby may be the one that works for yours. Read more about the possible causes and ways to help your baby through it.

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Diaper Rash

Diaper rash is best kept at bay by preventing it in the first place. Try these tips:

Change diapers about every two hours. Replacing a wet or dirty diaper with a clean, dry one is vital in preventing diaper rash. 

That’s because when skin stays damp for too long, it becomes more susceptible to rash-raising enzymes.

Avoid perfumes and alcohols in soaps, scented baby wipes and other products that come in contact with your baby’s nether region since they can irritate that sensitive baby skin. 

Prevent diaper rash by cleaning his bottom with cotton balls or a washcloth soaked in warm water — at least during the newborn stage, when that tender skin is the most sensitive.

Try experimenting with different diapers or even switching to cloth to see whether that helps prevent diaper rash. 

Sometimes super-absorbent disposable diapers are so efficient at trapping moisture that they lead to more rashes. 

Cloth diapers are less absorbent, which can encourage more frequent changes — and that, in turn, can be a change for the better if they lead to fewer breakouts.

Hygiene

You’ll have worked out the process of nappy 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 significant part of your everyday life.

Using a Breast Pump

If you’re breastfeeding and ready to start pumping breast milk, maximise your output by drinking at least eight glasses of water a day, plus eating plenty of water-packed fruits and veggies.

The best time to express yourself is likely in the morning when your breasts are most whole. 

If you’re at work, try to pump on the same schedule as your baby’s feedings, so you keep your milk supply going strong. 

If you’re at home and are stockpiling milk, try pumping an hour or so after the baby’s morning feeding or pump one breast while the baby is going to town on the other.

To begin using your best pump, find a comfortable, quiet spot and relax as much as possible to encourage letdown. 

A quick breast massage or gently shaking your breasts can get the ball rolling, as hot compresses to the nipples.

If your baby is close by, try cuddling him (as long as he doesn’t mind being this close to milk he can’t have); if you’re away from home, look at a favourite picture of him, or close your eyes and imagine his face and his smell as he nurses.

If you’re using an electric breast pump, use the lowest suction at first — you’re not trying to vacuum your breasts off your chest! — and then increase the juice when things get moving.

Be patient. It may take a few minutes (or a few weeks) for you to get into a comfortable rhythm.

Your Life After Baby

6-Week Postpartum Check-Up

This doctor or midwife visit is one that many moms have been waiting for, both for reassurance that you’ve healed usually and for clearance to return to normal activities, such as sex and exercise. 

It’s a good idea to bring a list of questions to ask, and don’t be shy about taking notes or asking the same question more than once if you’re not quite sure about the answer. 

Sleep deprivation means that you may not be as clear-headed as you’d like, you may be distracted by having your baby along for the checkup, and you may forget all the things that you’ve been wondering about. 

Here’s what to expect at the checkup.

Pelvic Floor Physio

Six weeks is when you need to think about starting pelvic floor physiotherapy. 

There are already apps (and video games!) out there to help you with this task, but one-on-one therapy is a good idea for many new moms. 

You can read more, including what to expect at your first pelvic floor therapy appointment.

Sex After Baby

If your six-week appointment gave you the all-clear for sex, you might be ready for fun in the bedroom—or maybe you’re not! 

Never mind the exhaustion and distraction of a new baby, but the fear of painful sex can make this one of the most challenging milestones. Here’s how to cope.

Your Emotions

You are likely to be feeling tired and worn out. However, at six weeks, your baby may be having a longer, more uninterrupted sleep overnight, allowing you to have a little more rest yourself. 

Unfortunately, tiredness is a fact of life in early parenting, and it can take months before parents feel normal again.

The symptoms of postnatal depression and exhaustion can be very similar. Many women worry that they are becoming depressed when they experience sadness and anxiety. 

If you are concerned that you may be depressed, speak with your GP or child healthcare practitioner. 

They will help you figure out what you need if you are suffering from postnatal depression.

Your Physical Recovery

You will need to have your postnatal check with your doctor or midwife this week. 

By six weeks, your womb 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 can raise them at your next postnatal checkup.

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Health & Safety

Sometime between weeks 6 and 9, your baby will have a 2-month checkup. 

The 2-month checkup is essential because it will include your baby’s first round of several vaccinations, including a combination vaccination.

At this appointment, your baby will receive the pneumococcal, DTaP, Hib, and polio vaccines as injections and the rotavirus vaccine orally.

Your baby will also receive the second hepatitis B at the 2-month checkup if they didn’t have it at the 1-month checkup.

Talk to your doctor about what they recommend you do in preparation for your visit. For example, you may want to plan on nursing your baby right after the vaccinations to help soothe, so talk to the office staff to make those preparations.

If you feel nervous, be sure to research the vaccinations your child will receive and educate yourself on why they are so important for your infant and your family’s health. 

Usually, the only complication your infant may experience from a vaccine is slight redness and irritation at the injection site and, in some cases, a mild fever.

Now that your baby is six weeks old, you might be feeling like a parenting pro. 

Despite your expertise, it’s still a good idea to brush up on some essential baby health and safety necessities this week, like taking an infant CPR class. 

Many are available for free for new parents at your local hospital.

As a new parent, you may be going back to work and have been cleared by your pregnancy care provider at the 6-week checkup. 

But remember, you will be on a postpartum journey for many weeks and months after your baby is born.

If you feel you need extra time for anything, whether it’s intercourse or activity, take it. Focus on self-care this week, especially if you are returning to work. Make sure to:

Continue taking your prenatal vitamins if you are breastfeeding.

Have a postpartum depression plan in place. Postpartum depression can develop anytime during your baby’s first year of life, but it may begin around this week. 

Go over the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression with your partner or someone in your life that you trust and review a plan for what to do if the characters develop.

Find emotional support. Going back to work can be challenging as you prepare to leave your baby for the first time. 

Talking about it with other moms who have been there before can help you go through the transition.

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