Your baby at four weeks old
Your baby is a month old – congratulations for making it this far. Things are beginning to settle around now. Her skin is clearer and any blotchy, splodgy bits have evened out. She's starting to be happy to be awake for a short while now after feeds, rather than conking out in a milk coma.
The further away you get from birth, the better you'll be feeling physically, though remember if you had a caesarean it may still be a couple of weeks before you can complete some everyday tasks like driving and lifting heavier things. You might be feeling pretty tired by now, which is no surprise as the sleep deprivation takes hold, so try to sleep whenever your baby has a nap, if you can.
What will my baby's routine be like at four weeks old?
There's not likely to be much of a pattern yet at this stage. When and how often she wakes is still pretty much up for grabs, so try to just roll with the punches rather than stressing about what's coming next. However, you can continue to work towards a routine at four weeks by keeping everything the same when you put her down for a nap, for example, perhaps by using the same music, putting her on the same blanket or down in the same room. Some mums swear by a strict routine and it is possible, but if that's not your bag, or you've tried it and found trying to bend your baby to your will is like herding cats, don't feel there's any harm in going with the flow.
What is a four-week-old baby's feeding schedule like?
At four weeks, she is still likely to be breastfeeding eight to 12 times a day, but this may be a little less for formula-fed babies. A basic guideline for how much milk your baby needs is to give between 150ml and 200ml per kilo she weighs. To be honest though, it's easier just to feed on demand.
As breastfeeding is still getting properly established you may find your supply drops a little in the evenings. Unfortunately, this often coincides with the time of day when your baby is most fractious anyway, so brace yourself for a few tears (you might even find your baby cries, too!) Rest assured, the best way to increase your supply of breastmilk is to feed more. Whatever you do, don't try to 'conserve' what you have – that's when your supply really drops. If you're worried you're not producing enough or your baby still seems hungry after a feed, clear your diary for a day or two and spend plenty of time skin-to-skin with her just feeding whenever she wants to and having a cuddle when she doesn't. Skin-to-skin contact sends your body the message that there's a baby here that needs feeding and the more she's at the breast the more your milk ducts are stimulated to produce more.
Being properly rested (yes, we know – some hope) will also help improve your milk supply, so if it's at all possible, have a little nap in the afternoon, or even just lie down on the sofa for a bit. You should also make sure you are eating enough. At this stage, you sometimes find the day goes past in such a flurry of feeds and nappy changes, you can forget to feed yourself. Make sure you've got lots of slow-energy-release foods in the house that are easy to eat – bananas are great. And maybe even consider getting your partner to leave you a 'packed lunch' in the fridge if they're out at work all day, so you can easily grab a sandwich when you have a moment.
How much does a four-week-old baby sleep?
She'll still be sleeping for the vast majority of the time, but by four weeks you may notice that she is staying awake for a little while after a feed, rather than falling straight into a milk coma. It's one of the first signs that she's heading towards a routine where she's awake more in the daytime and sleeps more at night. Hang out the bunting!
In terms of disturbing that precious slumber, if she's asleep in her car seat when you arrive home, you don't need to panic about it but make sure she won't overheat in her outdoor clothing. It's best not to leave her too long in there as babies' spines are still developing at this point and the shape of the car seat means they aren't as stretched out as they should be. When possible, it's best to let her nap in her Moses basket or cot.
It's probably a bit pointless to try and introduce a nap schedule just yet but what you can do is try and make her pre-nap times as similar (and as boring) as possible to start giving her the message that it's time for a snooze. At some point down the line, you'll be able to use the same cues to get her to go back to sleep in the middle of the night, too.
Physical development at four weeks old
Your baby, at four weeks old, is moving more and her muscles are much stronger than they were at birth. If you put her down on her tummy on a mat you may see her try to lift her head up and even turn it to one side.
From this week she starts to grow at a rate of an inch per month, so if you feel as though she's bursting out of Babygros every other week, you're probably not wrong.
Her skin continues to clear and settle this week and her head is also still changing shape and becoming more rounded. She may still have small patches of lanugo (the downy hair that keeps her warm in the womb), particularly if she was premature, but these will soon be gone. In fact, she's much more plump, pleasant and baby-like all round by now.
What can my baby see at four weeks old?
By now she can see things at a distance of about 18 inches. It's still quite tricky for your baby to focus for very long, however. When you think about it, it makes sense. In the womb, there was no opportunity to look at anything any distance away, so it takes time for her to adjust to this out in the big wide world.
Having said that, her sight is improving every day. This week, try holding a brightly coloured or high-contrast toy a few inches from her face and moving it slowly from left to right. You may notice her making an effort to follow its movement with her eyes (this is called 'tracking'). You'll see her manage to focus on an object for short periods of time, but don't worry if she still looks a bit cross-eyed at times, it's perfectly natural while the muscles in her eyes are still strengthening.
What can my baby hear at four weeks old?
Her hearing is completely developed by four weeks old. You may notice her turn her head towards a loud sound, so if a door slams in another room she may jump and turn towards the sound. She will enjoy learning to make noises herself and seeing your reaction to them so make sure you laugh uproariously at every squeak and raspberry she emits.
Weight gain at four weeks old
From two weeks to 12 weeks, your baby will gain about 5-8oz a week. After the first two weeks, try and get her weighed once a month to check she's still on track. Many GP surgeries, children and family centres, and other community baby groups will have a weigh-in clinic once a week where you can drop in and get your baby weighed and ask an expert about any queries you have. If you're worried about your baby's weight gain in between times, you can always give your health-visiting team a ring and ask.
Try not to panic about whether your baby is getting enough milk. Just feed on demand and remember her nappies are the best indicator of how well she's feeding. You should expect to see a minimum of six wet nappies in every 24 hours, and the wee should be pale in colour. Poo should be a mustard colour and pretty soft. If your baby is formula fed, though, remember she may not have quite so many bowel movements as her breastfed peers. If you notice any sudden change in how many wet nappies you're seeing or you're concerned there may be a problem, make an appointment to see your GP.
Brain development at four weeks old
Your four-week-old baby is just beginning to find her place in the world. She may start to notice her hands and feet around now – a pretty funny sight when you spot her staring in awe at her own palms and looking astounded to see her own toes wiggling away at her. She doesn't yet know that she's a separate entity from you, so she won't know that those hands and feet actually belong to her, but she'll be very pleased to see them all the same. Over the next few weeks and months, she'll gradually work out that when she kicks her feet move and that she can make her hands wave by lifting up her arm. It might seem like a small milestone to you, but for your baby, it's the beginning of independence and developing a sense of her own self.
This week though, in spite of the excitement of hands and feet to play with, she's all about that face – learning to gurn, grimace and scrunch it up. If you think you've spotted a grin, though, you're probably still mistaking it for wind.
She's also starting to use her mouth to make her first pre-verbal sounds. She's nowhere near making actual words yet but you may hear her cooing and gurgling as she learns to use her mouth and tongue to make different sounds – the very first steps towards language.
Play at four weeks old
What she'll enjoy most this week is seeing her new skills reflected back to her. If she coos and gurgles, make those noises in response or try engaging her in a face-pulling competition. You may even see her trying to copy you.
She'll enjoy playing with a mirror now, so a toy mirror would be a good investment. One that stands up on the floor that she can lift her head to look at while she's on her tummy will help strengthen her neck muscles.
Milestones at four weeks old
In week four, your baby might be finding her hands and feet and starting to make her first pre-verbal noises. As well as recognising sounds, which she's been able to do since she was in the womb to some extent, she now also begins to recognise faces. Studies show that babies prefer face shapes over any other image, and she's busy getting to know the people around her this week. While she'll enjoy looking in a mirror, she won't yet recognise that the baby looking back is her.
Can a baby smile at four weeks old?
It's unlikely, but it has been known. Usually, 'smiles' at this stage are just burps and general gurning but it's possible you might see the start of proper smiles if your baby is a bit advanced (and deliriously happy). Most babies start to smile around the six-to-eight-week mark and the vast majority will be grinning like Cheshire Cats by around six months.
Your life with a four-week-old baby
Physically, you're heading back to normality now. Your womb is returning to its previous size and shape and the internal organs that were pushed out of the way are back where they belong (hurray!) Remember that recovering from a caesarean takes a little longer, however, so take things easy.
Emotionally, things can still be far from 'back to normal' at this stage so try not to heap any extra pressure upon yourself. It's very common to experience the baby blues shortly after birth but if you're still feeling tearful and low, really exhausted or have no interest in things, you could have postnatal depression. Speak to your GP or health visitor, who will be able to offer support and help you find the right treatment.
If he doesn't want to sleep in his cot yet, don't make him. What about putting him in the pram for naps? Then you can have a little walk/rock to send him off, then go and put your feet up.
Lie on the sofa, feed them, watch trashy TV, read books, sleep whenever you can, go for walks and eat cakes in cafés – enjoy and do whatever you feel like. You will never get teeny baby time back and if you have more then you will have a stomping older one around to amuse.
Pick him up and cuddle him. He doesn't even see himself as a separate entity from you yet, so of course he cries if you're not there.
When they are older and need your attention you will look back at this peaceful tranquil time when they don't need much input other than cuddles and a laugh.