Tuesday, February 9, 2010
At the two week mark, your baby may experience a major growth spurt, which is probably why he or she seems to eat around the clock. If you weren't exhausted during the first two weeks of parenthood, rest assured (though without that rest) you certainly will be now as your 2-week-old baby demands more of your time, attention, and milk. But at least your hard work in the feeding department is paying off, since your baby is likely gaining weight at a rapid clip, filling out that once-scrawny frame with round, dimpled curves.
The Crying Game
Not only is your baby better and better at eating, he or she may also be getting better and better at crying (and who would have thought there was room for improvement in that department!). As you've already discovered, babies usually cry to communicate their needs — and most often will stop crying when those needs are met (though for crying out loud, some crying is just for the sake of crying…lung practice anyone?). But some newborns — 15 to 20 percent — have prolonged, inconsolable crying fits, often beginning in the early evening and lasting at least three hours. Known as colic, such crying generally starts at about three weeks of age, peaks at six weeks, and stops pretty suddenly after about three months. No one knows for sure what causes colic, but it's been linked to immature digestion, reflux, sensory overload (at this age, babies haven't developed the ability to tune out when they've had enough sights and sounds), and milk supply problems (the crying occurs most often at the end of the day, when Mom is more likely to be running low).
Soothing Strategies for Baby
While it's heartbreaking to hear your little one wail for hours at a time, there are some steps you can take to help soothe your baby, such as swaddling, rocking, applying pressure to your baby's belly by holding him or her with your hand under the chin and arm under the belly, or having some noise in the background, like a running vacuum or dryer (or even just your voice whispering shhh, shhh, over and over again). And you can take some comfort in the knowledge that babies with colic thrive just as well as babies who cry only a little (though their parents are often a little worse for the wear, right?).
Crying's not the only item on the agenda this week. By week's end, your baby's muscle control is looking a little more mature, making those movements a bit more fluid than they were when you first brought your newborn home. Sleeping patterns are slightly more predictable (but don't get used to them; they'll change soon enough). Also, babies now have periods of quiet alert time, where they stay both awake and aware, taking in the world around them. (This quiet-alert frame of mind is actually the best time for one-on-one socializing, so sing, coo, talk, and play with your baby). Give your baby black-and-white images, bold lines, and shapes to look at. You can also let your little one check out that beautiful baby face in a baby-proof mirror. Babies don't know at this point that it's their own reflection, but they like what they see.