Five weeks old - Exploring their world, and the beginnings of play.
Here’s what to expect in the fifth week of your lives together.
At a glance
- It's a good time to introduce short 'playing' sessions a couple of times a day
- Start edging towards the idea of a feeding and sleeping routine
Your baby’s development at five weeks old
Now that your baby is awake and alert for slightly longer periods in the day, it’s a good moment to introduce short ‘playing’ sessions of five to 10 minutes each a couple of times a day. You could use the time to sing to them, chat while you show them something new, like the garden or a tree outside your house (whose swaying leaves will fascinate them). Make silly faces and see if they copy you, and show them their face in a baby-safe mirror. It’s not too early to show them a cloth baby book, which will probably feature black-and-white simple line drawings of human faces and geometric patterns.
It’s important not to go too mad and over-stimulate them – which can make them over-tired and grumpy. Pick a moment when their mood seems positive and keep playing times short and sweet.
Establishing a routine at five weeks old
It’s also a good time to edge them towards the idea of a feeding and sleeping routine. It’s too early yet to expect them to work like clockwork (in fact lots of babies never really do!)
You will need to get some decent sleep sometime soon, so it makes sense for them to know the difference between night and day and to start establishing regular nap times over the next few weeks without being overly rigid. Being too fixed about timings can just make you upset and frustrated when your baby won’t fit the pattern they don’t realise you expect!
You can help by being really boring at night: no playing, chatting or fun – just feeding with dimmed lights and settling them back down to sleep afterwards. In the day, have fun, chat lots and enjoy play sessions with your baby.
Daytime naps may become more regular soon. You can help by having a little pre-nap routine. You’ll notice their tiredness signs now: rubbing their eyes or fiddling with their ears, yawning (some mums swear by putting their baby down to sleep on the third yawn) or staring into the middle distance. When they seem ready, put them down to sleep (preferably while still awake). If you leave it too long before putting them down to sleep they can get over-tired and find it hard to settle.
Remember that safer sleep guidance recommends that baby sleeps in a crib or Moses basket in the same room as you for night time and day time naps for the first six months.
If you suffered from the baby blues in the first couple of weeks, that feeling of a ‘depressive fog’ hanging over you should have gone by now. That’s not to say that you have to jump out of bed every morning with a cheery wave and a smile. But that sense of touchy moodiness and unexplained tears should have receded. If it hasn’t, speak your GP or health visitor who may talk to you about postnatal depression. Read more about postnatal depression.