Your baby at six weeks old

baby six weeks

The big news this week is that your baby and you will have your six-week check. It's a chance for you to ask any questions, get your baby checked over – and, we're pretty sure, for your GP to have a cuddle and a coo over your newborn. The doctor will look at your baby's legs, hips and spine, check her heartbeat and reflexes and make sure her eyes and genitals are as they should be. They will probably ask how feeding is going, how she sleeps and if she is smiling yet

What is a good routine for a six-week-old baby?

This is the point at which a routine actually starts to feel like a vague possibility rather than a hilarious and cruel joke. Having said that, all babies – and their mothers – are different. Some parents have their child on a military timetable at two weeks (do try to smile politely when they tell you this rather than cackle uproariously) and others are happy to go with the flow for another six weeks yet. There's no right answer. Do whatever makes you happy.

How much sleep does a six-week-old baby need?

At six weeks your baby is still sleeping a good chunk of the day, but is slowly moving towards a more settled sleeping and waking pattern.

If you want to try nudging things along a little you can make a start on a routine, by waking your baby at the same time each morning. It might be that 7am actually coincides with her second nap of the day but no matter.

When you put her down for her first 'scheduled' nap, do your regular nap routine – a song and a cuddle, her comforter or a familiar blanket, whatever is normal for you.

Physical development at six weeks old

mother and six weeks baby

By six weeks your baby is much stronger and more steady than she was at birth. Instead of lolling from side to side, her neck is more controlled and she can even hold her head steady for a few seconds. Hold her up on your chest and shoulder and she may briefly bob around like a meerkat, admiring the view.

Her hands are still closed most of the time, and if you tickle the palm of her hand she will grab your finger – this is known as the grasp reflex.

Babies tend to develop from the head down, in that the head and upper body become strong before the lower body and legs, but you may notice this week that she starts to kick her legs in the bath – already beginning to exercise those muscles ready for walking.

How much can a six-week-old baby see?

High-contrast and brightly coloured objects are the easiest things for your baby to see right now. However, it is likely that she can distinguish your face from the faces of other women.

Brain development at six weeks old

It's the big one – this is the week when you may first see your baby smile. Don't worry if it doesn't happen yet. Many babies don't crack a smile until around 12 weeks. Maybe she just doesn't like your jokes. Babies can be a tough audience.

If you spot your baby looking up at the ceiling or towards the horizon a lot, that's her learning about the shape of the world. Babies are constantly scanning the world for edges and corners at this age as it helps their brains build up a visual idea of the world around them.

Play at six weeks old

While your baby is making her first sounds, talk back. You'll find a slow, sing-song voice comes naturally to you when you chat to her. Language experts call this 'motherese' – you're naturally programmed to speak this way to your baby so that she can learn as much about language as possible. Put your face close to hers so that she can see the way your mouth moves and your expression changes.

Toys that clip onto her cot or buggy are a good idea now – she'll start to notice them when she wakes from a nap.

Finally, encourage muscle development by helping her to kick and splash in the bath. If she seems to enjoy it you could even look into baby swimming lessons.

Milestones at six weeks old

baby six weeks

The big one this week is smiling. It makes such a difference to your frame of mind after a night of broken sleep when you go in to your baby and are greeted with a gummy smile.

She also has another newfound talent this week – if you take her hands in a lying down position and gently pull her towards you in a sitting position she will hold her head steady.

Your life with a six-week old baby

The postnatal check-up is not just for your baby, it's for you, too. You may have your stitches checked, blood pressure taken and the doctor will have a feel of your belly to see if the uterus has contracted. Contraception may also be mentioned. Even if the thought of having sex still seems like a very vague and distant plan, it's worth having a think about it. You'll soon have forgotten that's what got you into all this trouble in the first place and might just be considering doing the whole baby thing again in a few months. Yes, really!

Remember that although you're quite unlikely to get pregnant again if you are exclusively breastfeeding, it's by no means a reliable method of contraception.

If you had a caesarean, this might be the appointment at which you are given the green light to start driving again and do some gentle exercise.