The six-week nig­gles

...and what to do about them

Your Baby & Toddler - - Contents -

FEED­ING’S AL­MOST SEC­OND na­ture, you can change a nappy un­der 15 sec­onds (and with­out up­set­ting baby too much), and you’re just about used to your baby’s sleep­ing pat­terns and have worked out a way to sleep around them. But then sud­denly your baby is six weeks old and you find your­self won­der­ing, “Who took my baby and re­placed him with this lit­tle wail­ing and eter­nally hun­gry mon­ster?”

Wel­come to a growth spurt, a sim­ple term for some­thing that brings with it any num­ber of baf­fling is­sues. It can be a re­ally con­fus­ing time, but don’t let it make you feel in­ad­e­quate! As chal­leng­ing as this time is, you can also ex­pect your baby to start smil­ing and laugh­ing (and then it’s all worth it, you’ll see). We have some answers here for some of the more com­mon is­sues you’ll ex­pe­ri­ence now.

# 1MY BABY IS AL­WAYS HUN­GRY

If you no­tice you need to feed your baby more of­ten than usual to keep him set­tled, he’s prob­a­bly go­ing through a growth spurt. Your baby does a lot of grow­ing in his first year, and there’ll be pe­ri­ods where he grows at a faster rate. These pe­ri­ods of rapid growth are re­ferred to as growth spurts.

Growth spurts hap­pen at 10 days, three weeks, six weeks and six months.

Be­cause he’s do­ing a bit more grow­ing than usual, he’ll need more calo­ries too. And be­cause your baby’s stom­ach is quite small, he’ll be feed­ing more fre­quently, which will make it seem to you that he’s con­stantly hun­gry and that one feed just flows into the next.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Growth spurts are only tem­po­rary, and luck­ily things should set­tle down again in a few days. The best thing you can do is to feed your baby as of­ten as he needs. If you’re breast­feed­ing, the fre­quent suck­ing should stim­u­late milk pro­duc­tion, thus en­sur­ing you have enough for his needs. How­ever, make sure you eat and drink enough to keep your en­ergy lev­els up.

If you’re bot­tle-feed­ing and you no­tice your baby is still hun­gry after he’s fin­ished a bot­tle, of­fer more or of­fer an ex­tra feed.

#2 HE’S WAK­ING UP ALL THE TIME

Again, fre­quent wak­ings are re­lated to growth spurts, as a hun­gry baby is more likely to wake fre­quently. This is ac­tu­ally a way that you can recog­nise you’re go­ing through a growth spurt – your baby will be­come un­set­tled, cry more and even sleep less dur­ing the day and wake more fre­quently at night.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Once again, pa­tience is key to rid­ing out the growth spurt; things will get back to nor­mal soon.

In the mean­time, if you are top­ping up breast­feed­ing with for­mula or ex­press­ing milk, let your part­ner do the mid­dle of the night feed so you can sleep a bit. Take heart in the fact that after a few days of be­ing un­set­tled and hun­gry, your baby will ac­tu­ally have a few days where he sleeps for longer than usual, so you’ll both get some time to re­cu­per­ate.

#3 HE WON’T STOP CRY­ING

Colic is char­ac­terised by ex­ces­sive high-pitched cry­ing that isn’t soothed and that usu­ally oc­curs at the same time ev­ery day (in the early evening in most cases). It can set in any­time be­tween one week and three months and so could be an ex­pla­na­tion for this kind of cry­ing in your six-week-old. If you sus­pect colic, take your baby to the doc­tor for a checkup to rule out any other causes first and then for a di­ag­no­sis.

It’s not re­ally known what the cause of colic is, but it’s thought to be re­lated to di­ges­tion. Colic doesn’t harm your baby, but it can be very dis­tress­ing to hear him cry­ing so much.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

There are quite a lot of things that can help soothe a col­icky baby, and very of­ten it’s a com­bi­na­tion of el­e­ments rather than one spe­cific thing that helps. Colic drops are avail­able, and baby mas­sage may also be ben­e­fi­cial. Ba­bies also find white noise – the sound of the vac­uum cleaner or wash­ing ma­chine, for ex­am­ple – sooth­ing. Walk­ing around with your baby held close to you in a sling could also help.

The im­por­tant thing is to try to re­main calm. If you find your­self tak­ing strain, ask your part­ner, fam­ily or friends to help out for a bit while you take a break.

#4 HE POOS LESS AND LESS

A baby will poo once a day or even once a week, and if your baby is breast­fed he may start pass­ing stool less fre­quently at around six weeks. Be­cause of this you may think your baby is con­sti­pated. The thing to look out for is the con­sis­tency; his stools should be soft and wet, not hard and small. A hard and small stool, not nec­es­sar­ily the fre­quency of poo nap­pies, is an in­di­ca­tion of con­sti­pa­tion in young ba­bies.

Be­sides small round balls of poo that look like rabbit drop­pings, other signs of con­sti­pa­tion are if your baby’s strain­ing and his tummy is hard.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

If your baby is ac­tu­ally con­sti­pated, don’t use home reme­dies like brown su­gar in wa­ter. Give him a gen­tle tummy mas­sage in a clock­wise di­rec­tion and chat to your clinic sis­ter about ap­pro­pri­ate lax­a­tives – don’t just give baby any­thing. Ly­ing him on his back and mov­ing his legs in a bi­cy­cling ac­tion may also help.

No mat­ter how tough things seem, or how con­fused you feel by your baby’s ever-chang­ing needs, know that you are the best mom for him. Try to take things in your stride and be log­i­cal about fig­ur­ing out the lit­tle prob­lems that arise. Your six-week-old’s nig­gles may seem over­whelm­ing, but be­hind them is a baby who loves and needs you too – don’t lose sight of this fact! YB

IF YOU FIND YOUR­SELF TAK­ING STRAIN, ASK YOUR PART­NER, FAM­ILY OR FRIENDS TO HELP OUT FOR A BIT WHILE YOU TAKE A BREAK

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