Three weeks old – Crying, routines and talking to your baby
Life may be settling down a bit now. Or maybe not... Here’s what to expect in the third week of your new lives together.
At a glance
- Your baby may be looking a bit more like how you imagined they would on day one
- If they're crying for more than three hours a day they may have colic
- Now is a good time to hang a mobile over their cot or moses basket
Your baby's development at three weeks old
By now your baby may be looking a bit more like how you imagined they’d look on day one: pink, clear-skinned and a bit plumper than the wrinkled, slightly scrawny (but obviously beautiful!) little person you brought home. They’ll still be sleeping a lot, and it isn’t too early to start teaching them about that all-important difference between night and day (even if they don’t act on it straight away).
You could start with a bedtime routine: bath, feed, sing/cuddle and sleep at the same time each evening. Do the last feed with dimmed lights, and also the night-time feeds. Keep night-time feeds low-key with not too much eye contact or stimulation. Gradually, you’ll be able to keep them awake for longer periods in the day but this probably won’t happen yet: literally nothing can stop a tired baby from going to sleep.
How much will my three week old cry?
Crying is their main method of communication with you right now; babies cry their most in the first 12 weeks. Soon you may be able to distinguish a hungry cry from an ‘I’m bored/tired/lonely/over-excited/cold/hot’ cry, but it’s not easy.
All you can do is rule out one cause at a time: changing position so they get a new view (putting them on your shoulder with your back to a window often does the trick); taking off or putting on clothes; changing their nappy, gently rocking them or feeding them.
If they’re crying for more than three hours a day, particularly in the early evenings, they may have colic, which can start in week three. A baby with colic (basically, bad wind) may also go very red and pull their knees up to their tummy. You can help by lying them across your lap and rubbing their back, or by rubbing their tummy and by winding them half way through a feed. Sometimes nothing seems to work, and it can be really frustrating and upsetting to hear them cry so much. But the good news is that babies usually grow out of colic at around 12 weeks. Get as much help as you can with settling them until then.
Talking with your three week old baby
When they’re not crying, you’ll find they are now making little ‘oooh’ and ‘ahhh’ and cooing noises when you talk to them, esepcially if you're holding your face close to theirs. Don’t forget they still can’t see far, around 30cms.
Even though they can’t understand yet, chat to them lots – you’re laying the foundations for their language development, which begins right from day one. If you put them next to a mirror you will notice them staring at their own face – not that they realise yet that it’s theirs.
It’s also a good time to hang a mobile over their cot or moses basket as it helps with the new skill of tracking objects with their eyes. The most effective are black and white or high contrast coloured ones as very young babies find high contrasts easier to pick out.
Are you feeling lonely?
If your partner has just gone back to work after paternity leave, you may feel a bit alone and isolated. It’s a good time to look up the mums you met at pre-natal groups, enroll on a local post-natal course or join a mum and baby group. You’ll probably be able to talk for hours about every detail of your baby’s life even to people you hardly know. You’ll look back and wonder how you managed to talk quite so candidly, but at the time it’s a wonderful mood-booster.
Tips from other Bounty mums
"Have all your changing stuff – nappies, cream, wipes, changing mat and spare clothes downstairs and nearby for the first few weeks as you won’t want to be going up and down the stairs all day." – Kirsty