Your Baby at Seven Weeks

1
Daddy's Little Girl (or Boy)

New dads often quickly figure out their new role in their baby's life.
New dads often quickly figure out their new role in their baby's life. Photo © Ana Abejon

Some parenting books, magazines, and website articles focus on new moms, leaving the new dad and his role as a parent out.

Fortunately, many more take a more generic approach to providing advice to new parents, which either a new mom or dad can identify with. Since many dads take on very active roles in caring for their babies, they are just as likely to want to learn about colic, baby vitamins, skin rashes, etc.

In addition to learning about all of the basic parenting skills, like changing diapers, comforting a crying baby, and giving their baby a bath, new dads should figure out their role in their new family.

A Father's Role

Conflicts can arise when a dad has very different ideas about what role he wants to take in caring for his new baby and what role is expected of him. If he thinks nothing in his life is going to change and he can still go to the gym every day or spend his evenings "out with the guys," but Mom was expecting an equal parenting partner to help care for their new baby, then they are likely going to have some problems.

Although there are a lot of different ideas of what a good father is, dads can get off to a good start by:

  • learning how to take care of their new baby
  • being supportive of breastfeeding
  • spending a lot of time with the family
  • sharing parenting duties equally
  • having a plan for the family's financial future, which can include a will, life insurance, disability insurance, etc.

In a baby's first weeks and months, it can sometimes be most helpful if a father takes on the majority of household tasks. This leaves more time for Mom and baby to be together.

2
Tummy Time

A play or gym mat can be a good place for tummy time.
A play or gym mat can be a good place for tummy time. Photo © Vincent Iannelli, MD

The end of your baby's second month is a great time to start tummy time, which is the practice of putting your baby on her tummy for short periods of time while she is awake.

Babies at this age are developing some head and neck control, can actually lift their heads briefly, and haven't learned that they don't like tummy time yet.

Why is tummy time a good thing?

Since your baby should be sleeping on her back to reduce her risk of SIDS, she may get used to this position and not like to be on her tummy. Unfortunately, babies who spend too much time on their backs, especially if they are usually in the same position, can develop positional plagiocephaly, or a flat head.

Tummy time can also prevent some minor development delays in picking up milestones, including rolling over, sitting up, and crawling, that can affect some babies who are always on their back.

And tummy time is fun, for both babies and parents!

Some tips to help your baby enjoy tummy time:

  • Start with short periods of tummy time, maybe even just two or three minutes a day, and work towards 10 to 20 minutes of tummy time once or twice a day.
  • Lay on your back and lay your baby down on your chest, tummy down.
  • Lay her on a tummy time play mat with some age appropriate toys to play with, especially once she has enough upper body strength to actually reach for and play with them.
  • Prop her chest up with a pillow.
  • Get down on the floor with your baby and talk or sing to her.

3
A Seven Week Baby's Developmental Milestones

At this age, your baby will likely smile responsively when you talk or play with her.
At this age, your baby will likely smile responsively when you talk or play with her. Photo © Vincent Iannelli, MD

Although it may have seemed like your newborn baby didn't do very much developmentally, a lot begins to happen by the end of the second month.

By now, your baby may begin to:

  • notice her own hands
  • recognize her parents by smiling at you when you talk to her, for example
  • focus on objects about 8 to 12 inches away from her face
  • follow objects past the midline of her face
  • laugh, squeal, and make "ooh" and "aah" sounds
  • hold her head up at a 45 or sometimes a 90-degree angle
  • sit with support and hold her head steady
  • respond to loud sounds
  • bear weight on her legs

It may be another month or two before your baby reaches all of these developmental milestones, though.

4
Choosing a Day Care for Baby

According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, 30 to 45% of new mothers return to work once their baby is two to three months old. That may mean that you need to make arrangements now for child care for your baby.

Types of child care situations you can consider if Mom is going to be working outside the home:

  • stay-at-home dad
  • mom and dad who alternate work schedules
  • family member that cares for the baby
  • nanny
  • in-home day care
  • group day care

Since there is no one-size-fits-all type of day care, parents must spend some time finding the right child care arrangement for their family. Each has its own drawbacks and benefits.

For example, while your baby will likely be grouped with many more kids in a group day care setting than in an in-home day care, some people feel like having multiple caregivers in a group day care providers closer supervision. Being with fewer kids in an in-home day care may mean that your baby gets sick less often, though.

When choosing a day care, make sure that:

  • it is licensed and accredited by your state.
  • the staff-to-child ratio in a group day care for newborns and infants is no greater than one caregiver for every three infants; there should be no more than six infants in a group together.
  • the staff-to-child ratio in an in-home day care for newborns and infants is no greater than one caregiver for every four infants (if there is only one child less than two years old in the group); there should be only two children in the group if they are both under age two.

Links:

 

Sources:

 

AAP Policy Statement. Quality Early Education and Child Care From Birth to Kindergarten. PEDIATRICS Vol. 115 No. 1 January 2005, pp. 187-191.

U.S. Census Bureau Report. Maternity Leave and Employment Patterns of First-Time Mothers: 1961 - 2000.

5
Week Seven Q&A - Gassy Foods

Q. My baby has a lot of gas. What's going on? Since I am breastfeeding, should I watch what I eat?

Many newborns and younger infants have gas. Unfortunately, that gas typically doesn't go away in your baby's second month. In fact, the normal gas that many babies have often doesn't go away until they are two or three months old.

Is gas causing your baby any problems?

It is hard to say, but keep in mind that gas is usually considered to be normal. Many babies have gas regularly throughout the day and night.

There are many other baby "problems" that also occur at this time, and many parents may the jump to put the two together. For example, you may think that if your baby has gas and is waking up several times a night, then it has to be the gas that is keeping your baby from sleeping better. The truth is, many seven-week-olds wake up regardless of whether or not they have gas.

This just goes to show that your baby's gas doesn't automatically have to be blamed for her crying or sleeping patterns. All can be normal for a two or three month old baby.

Breastfeeding and Gas

A breastfeeding mom's diet is often thought to be the cause of a baby's gas. While there may be specific foods that cause a baby to be gassy, remember that most babies have gas. Unless the gas is causing pain, a breastfeeding mom usually doesn't have to go to a lot of trouble restricting what she is eating.

Foods that are often labeled as "gassy foods" include:

  • cow's milk and diary products
  • broccoli
  • brussel sprouts
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • cucumbers
  • garlic
  • onions
  • peppers

If a baby seems extra gassy after his mother eats one of these foods, then she might want to try to avoid them in the future.

6
Plagiocephaly and Flat Heads

Laying in one position for too long can exert a lot of force on a baby's head and cause the head to become misshapen, which is called positional plagiocephaly.

Since the recommendations for sleep positions changed and parents began putting infants to sleep on their backs to reduce their risk of SIDS, this problem has greatly increased.

Infants can also be at risk for positional plagiocephaly if they lay in a car seat, bouncy seat, or swing for too long. Alternatives, like a wrap, sling, or carrier, usually put less pressure on the back of a child's head and can be helpful in preventing flat head.

Although many infants develop positional plagiocephaly because they simply prefer to lie in one position all of the time, others have this problem because they have limited neck motion and can't help laying in the same position. These children, those with congenital torticollis, have limited motion on one side of their neck and may have a hard mass on their neck muscle.

Preventing Flat Head

Since posterior plagiocephaly is caused by too much pressure being put on one part of your infant's head, you can often prevent it from occurring by alternating the positions your infant stays in. This does not mean that you should stop putting your child to sleep on his back, but you can alternate the head position that he usually sleeps in.

Spending more time on his stomach in 'tummy time' when he is awake (prone position) and being supervised is also a good idea. And try to avoid letting your infant spend a lot of time in the same position on his back when he is awake.

7
Week Seven Safety Alert - Burns

Don't carry hot liquids when you are carrying your baby in your Sling Rider.
Don't carry hot liquids when you are carrying your baby in your Sling Rider or another carrier, sling, or wrap. Photo © Vincent Iannelli, MD

You wouldn't think that seven-week-olds would be at risk for getting a burn. After all, they can't reach out and touch the curling iron yet, right? But there are still plenty of things that put your baby at risk for getting burned. And that curling iron might not be that far out of reach if you have your baby in a carrier while you are curling your hair.

Home Fire Escape Plans

One of the most obvious things that can burn a baby is

fire

. While most parents have smoke detectors to alert them to fires in their homes, they often overlook the need for a fire escape plan when they have younger kids. However, a home fire escape plan isn't just for older kids who need to learn that they should meet you outside at the mailbox, for example. It can be an important safety tool for parents, too, so that they are prepared and know which parent will get the kids out of the house when there is a fire.

Baby Carrier Safety

The very common practice of using a

baby wrap or carrier

to hold your baby can also put him at risk for getting burned. While putting your baby in a wrap or carrier can give you the ability to get things done while you are holding your baby close to your body, you do have to be careful that your baby doesn't get burned. That means not carrying hot liquids while your baby is in a baby wrap or sling, and staying away from the stove and other hot appliances.

Preventing Burns

Other safety tips to help avoid fires and burns include:

  • setting the temperature of your hot water heater to 120 degrees
  • not leaving candles or a fireplace burning unsupervised
  • dressing your baby in fire-retardant or flame-resistant sleepwear (check the label)
  • testing your smoke alarms each month and replacing the batteries each year
  • keeping matches and lighters away from children

8
When to Call Your Pediatrician

It can be comforting to know that your pediatrician is just a phone call away.
It can be comforting to know that your pediatrician is just a phone call away if your baby has an urgent problem. Photo © Gabriela Trojanowska

Parents of a young infant, especially first-time parents, are sometimes tempted to call their pediatrician for every single gas pain, loose stool, or rash. However, even if you have a very supportive pediatrician, you should try to learn how to recognize when a symptom is due to a serious medical problem and when something is normal and can be taken care of at home.

When to Call Your Pediatrician

In general, you should call your pediatrician if your baby:

  • has a fever (rectal temperature at or above 100.4 F for infants less than 3 months old; 101 F for infants 3 to 6 months old; 103 F for infants 6 months or older)
  • is vomiting more than a few times, especially if it is dark green or projectile
  • has symptoms of dehydration (urinating less often, dry mouth, weight loss, etc.)
  • has a cough that continues to worsen after 3 to 5 days, is lingering more than 7 to 10 days, or comes in fits that are affecting his breathing (a sign of pertussis)
  • is having trouble breathing (fast, hard breathing and wheezing)
  • is very fussy and hard to console
  • is lethargic and hard to wake up, especially if he is skipping feedings
  • has bloody diarrhea
  • has been sick, such as with an ear infection, cold, or diarrhea, and suddenly seems a lot worse

Of course, when in doubt, trust your instincts and call your pediatrician or seek medical attention when your baby has a symptom or problem that you are concerned about.

And for some things -- such as a seizure, fall with loss of consciousness, or severe allergic reaction -- you should immediately call 911 and notify your pediatrician only after your baby has received emergency medical attention.

9
Vaccines for Baby

You can view all of the current Vaccine Information Statements on the cdc.gov/vaccines website.
You can view all of the current Vaccine Information Statements on the cdc.gov/vaccines website. Photo © Vincent Iannelli, MD

Although you baby likely got his first Hepatitis B vaccine when he was still in the nursery, he won't get his first "set" of shots until he is two months old.

That is coming up though in just a week, so it is a good idea to get educated about the vaccines your baby is about to receive.

Immunization Schedule

As a part of the recommended childhood immunization schedule, your baby will likely receive the following immunizations at his two-month checkup:

  • Rota (Rotavirus or RotaTeq) - an oral vaccine
  • DTaP
  • HepB (Hepatitis B)
  • IPV (Inactivated Polio)
  • Hib
  • Prevnar (PCV13)

Fortunately, just because your baby is getting six vaccines at his two-month checkup, that doesn't mean that he is getting six shots.

Combination Shots

In addition to the "Rota" or rotavirus vaccine being an oral vaccine, many of the other vaccines are available in combination with each other.

Commonly used combination vaccines include:

  • Pediarix (a combination of DTaP, IPV, and HepB)
  • Pentacel (a combination of DTaP, IPV, and Hib)

Use of either Pediarix or Pentacel can mean your baby gets two fewer shots at his next few visits to the pediatrician.

Vaccine Information Statements

Pediatricians are supposed to provide parents with Vaccine Information Sheets (VISs) for each vaccine that they give a child. These provide information about the benefits and risks of each vaccine and area a great resource.

Unfortunately, parents often get them at about the same time their baby is going to get their vaccines and don't have a lot of time to review them. You can read the Vaccine Information Sheets online in advance of your appointment so that you are prepared before your next visit.

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