Your Baby Development: 4 Weeks Old
How big is your baby?
This week your baby will be weighing around 9 pounds and measuring 21 inches if he/she was of average size at birth.
At this stage you may notice that baby’s bowel movements begin to fall into a regular pattern, and he/she should be passing one or two stools per day.
His/Her grasp reflex is also developing and he/she may briefly hold onto anything you place in his/her hand. Head movements are also improving with baby being able to move his/her head from side to side to follow an object. Baby may be able to lift his/her head enough to clear beneath him/her, even if it may take as long as 30 seconds to do so. He/She may even be able to briefly hold his/her head up when lying on his/her stomach.
You will also notice that baby is getting more mobile and now kick his/her legs in the air. This is why it is so important not to leave him/her alone when one the changing table, or any other surface from which baby could fall.
Failure to Thrive
If your baby has not gained enough weight to reach his/her birth weight by this stage then your pediatrician may become concerned. He may also become concerned if your baby gains weight and then suddenly stops for no apparent reason.
What can you do if this is the case? Trying to get your baby to take in more when he/she does feed or trying to get him/her to feed more often is one way. If your baby is not getting enough milk from feeding, then you may be advised to offer a supplementary feed with formula milk.
Your pediatrician will be able to advise you on this matter if you are concerned that your baby is not developing and growing as he/she should be.
Baby Development Milestones This Week
- Rolls partway from side to back
- When pulled to sitting position, may hold head in line with back
- Can grasp objects when fingers are pried open, but quickly drops it
Mental & Social Development
- May make an “ah” sound when he sees parents or hears parents voices
- May clutch at person holding him/her
- May make throaty sounds
Baby Slings and Front Carriers
Baby slings and front carriers offer parents and others a wonderful close way to carry baby, allowing you to continue to bond even while you are busy with other things.
There are many advantages to carrying baby “kangaroo style” during the first few months. One study showed babies carried this way cry less.
When you go shopping for a carrier or sling you should check the following:
- Straps and snaps are secure so they can’t work loose
- Belts and buckles have some form of backup
- Check the manufacturers weight and age recommendations
- The fabric is sturdy and washable
- Seams are reinforced
- Shoulder and neck straps are cushioned
- Paddle belts make the carrier comfortable for you
- Products meet the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) safety standards
Baby Safety Care
You may be surprised at how quickly your baby’s nails grow. Sometimes a baby’s nails have to be cut as soon as he/she is born!
You may feel a bit worried about cutting your baby’s nails for the first time, especially on those tiny little fingers. Your baby’s nails are thin and very flexible, but can soon become long enough and sharp enough to scratch and cut him/her.
Nail scissors or clippers made for a small child are a good choice when you want to cut his/her nails, and the best time to do so is when he/she is relaxed or sleeping. Here is the best way to do it:
- Take one finger in your hand, holding it finger tip down and away from you
- Snip or cut the nail straight across
- Take caution not to cut the flesh underneath the nail.
- You can file the nails with an emery board
Keeping Baby Warm
Here are a few ways in which you can keep your baby warm:
- Cuddle baby close to you when you hold him
- Swaddle him tightly in a receiving blanket
- Before he/she sleeps pre warm his/her sheets with a heating pad or hot water bottle. Make sure the sheets are not to hot and remove the heat source before you put him down.
- Dress him in a blanket sleeper.
Taking Baby’s Temperature
In some situations your pediatrician may ask you to take your baby’s temperature, and this can be a little unnerving if this is your first baby. There are many ways in which you can take your baby’s temperature:
This is probably the most common and accurate way in which to do it. Rectal thermometers are not expensive and are easy to use.
- Apply a lubricant to the thermometer.
- Lay baby on his/her stomach across your lap or on a firm surface.
- Hold baby steady to prevent any sudden movements. Spread his/her buttocks until you see the anal opening. Gently insert the thermometer in the opening about 1/2 inch and hold it in place until you can get an accurate reading.
- A normal Rectal temperature is 98.2-100.4F (36.8-38C)
Use a rectal thermometer to take his/her temperature this way.
- Make sure his/her underarm is clean. Place the thermometer in the armpit.
- Press baby’s arm tightly against his/her side
- After 4-5 minutes remove the thermometer and read the temperature.
- A normal Axillary temperature is 95-99F (35-37.2C)
This is a fairly new method of taking baby’s temperature.
- Lay baby on his/her back on a safe surface and turn his/her head to the side.
- Gently pull back his ear to straighten the ear canal. Point the thermometer into the ear canal.
- Activate the thermometer while holding the ear canal open/ Wait for the beep.
- Repeat the process in the other ear, and take the highest temperature reading.
- A normal Ear temperature is 97.8-99.7F (36.6-37.7C)
Feeding Your Baby
Giving Your Baby Water
Some parents believe that their baby need more fluid than he/she takes in at feedings, and give their baby water in between. However, unless you have been advised to do so by your pediatrician, so not give your baby water or sugar water. This will simply fill his/her stomach and make him/her eat less at feeding time.
Feeding On Schedule
The “Babywise” program, developed by Gary Ezzo, advises parents to create a routine by where babies are fed by routine rather than on demand. It is then up to the parents to create feeding times, sleep times etc.
To create this parents limit their newborns feedings to only one feeding every 2-3 hours, even if they may not be hungry.
After feeding a baby is then expected to stay awake for 1-11/2 hours. Supporters of this theory say that after 8 weeks parents can stop night time feedings, even if baby wakes up crying.
Feeding on Demand
Those who oppose the Feeding on schedule routine state that not even new born babies can go through an entire night without feeding, even by 8 weeks their stomach may not be big enough to allow them to go without feeding at night.
Dehydration is another concern when babies are not fed frequently throughout the day and the night. Experts say that babies know when they are full and be forced to eat more than the amount which they want, as this could lead to eating disorders later on in life. They also state that not feeding your baby when he/she is hungry can lead to baby feeling insecure as his/her needs are not being met.
Toys And Play
When choosing toys for your baby, think about his/her capabilities. Choose those which are safe and appropriate for his/her age. Try and find toys that he/she can play with in many different ways as he/she matures and grows. Remember that a child will not enjoy toys that are too difficult for him/her.
By this time your baby will be playing with you. A 4 week old baby uses his/her facial expressions to engage your attention, but this is also a form of play. You can also join in this game.
Hold your baby about 12 inches away from your face and start making funny faces, sticking out your tongue, open and close your eyes, mouthing noises etc. It is a great way to bond with your baby and he/she will love it!
Remember to keep talking to your baby, and try using a combination of a high pitched voice and your normal voice. By doing this you will be helping him/her to understand that communication can express emotions. Just simple keep talking as you go about your everyday chores.
Also remember to keep the everyday household noises going. Play music on the radio etc.
Quick Tips For This Week