Your baby: 5 weeks old

Learning night versus day and other fancy new skills, plus the 1-month checkup. Here's what you need to know about your 5-week-old.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY NICOLE DUPLANTIS/CLOTHING PROVIDED BY BABYGAP AND JOE FRESH

Remember your routine before motherhood? Shower, breakfast, brush your teeth? Well, yeah, you kissed that goodbye, but by week five, a new routine has probably started setting in, even if you haven’t quite noticed it yet. With a few milestones under your belt and a few more coming your way soon (have you seen a smile yet?), this is also the week you might find yourself taking stock of reality over those expectations you had a long time ago before baby. Man, were you deluded! How can it possibly be so much better in many ways and so much harder, too? There are no words for what you know now compared to how little you knew back then. But there are 600 photos on your phone, so there’s that.

5 week-old development & milestones

Learning night versus day

Your baby is sleeping longer at night—as many as four to six hours at once, if you’re lucky—and you’re having longer awake and alert phases during the day. Your baby might prefer to sleep for a few hours after eating and then wake up to play for an hour or two before getting hungry again. Or you may have a baby who wakes ravenous and then is happy to play on a full belly, having an hour or two of alert time before falling asleep mid-stimulation. Either way, the eat-play-sleep (or eat-sleep-play) routine is the start of a schedule that will last for the next few months, with each part of the routine gradually lengthening and your baby now awake and alert for up to 10 hours a day. Your night-time routine should also be well established by now—that’s when the lights stay out, mama doesn’t play, and boring is good for babies (though you may still have a favourite cuddle time where it seems like just the two of you are awake in the world, snuggling in the dark or dawn).

Fancy new skills

Your baby is learning all kinds of new tricks, and their growing attention span opens the door for all kinds of stimulation and play. All those first books and toys may become fascinating to your baby, and you’ll soon find favourites to capture their focus on the change table, during tummy time or when you want to grab a moment for a coffee, shower or quick scroll. Your baby’s hearing is fully developed, their eyesight is close behind, and their grasp is just getting underway—the perfect time to try out the bold, geometric patterns, different textures and new sounds that often come with newborn toys. But you can think outside the box, too, bringing baby indoors or out, near trees or into the bath to experience all that the world has to offer your baby’s five senses.

One-month check-up

A collage of babies with their parents What you need to know about baby's first milestones You’ll likely have your baby’s one-month check-up soon if you haven’t had it already, and the doctor or nurse will look for a few important things to ensure that your baby is healthy. At each check-up, expect your healthcare provider to measure your baby’s weight, length and head circumference. Rather than specific weight or measurement goals, the doctor is looking for steady growth by your baby and will check your baby’s hips, eyes, ears and mouth and listen to their chest and abdomen. Questions come next, as your baby’s milestones and developments are ticked off and their feeding and sleeping routines are assessed. This is your chance to ask questions as well, so bring a list and don’t be afraid to jot down answers or put them straight into your app. Let’s face it: You’re still exhausted and a check-up probably involves some travel and stress, so you wouldn’t be the first new mother to emerge from a doctor’s visit with little memory of what was said.

Your life after baby

Check in with yourself, too

Speaking of check-ups, you’ll soon see your doctor for your own postpartum visit, so use this week to observe yourself and come up with honest questions. Are you feeling depressed or overwhelmed? Even more exhausted than you were last week? Still feeling pain from your incision or hemorrhoids from hell? Take notice of your physical and mental health and think about what you want to ask your doctor.

Postpartum belly

Is your recovery from pregnancy and childbirth not going according to plan? Shocked to have a five-months pregnant look five weeks after birth? Take heart: The postpartum belly is a real thing, and everyone deals with it differently.

Mat leave expectations versus reality

Talk about a disconnect between your expectations and reality. How’s your productive and leisurely mat leave working out? Getting as much done as you’d hoped? Getting anything done? Or is it everything you’d expected and more and you’re already dreading going back to work? For many mamas, the uncharted territory of swapping a career for a baby—however temporary—is jarring or liberating (or actually kind of awful), and admitting the reality can be the hardest part.

Stuff no one tells you 

Napping on the go

As you shift from dealing with the fog of the first few weeks to trying to get out of the house with your baby, the sleep question will rear its ugly head. Should you let your baby nap on the go? Can you really work around such a scattered sleeping schedule? Are you feeling trapped by naps? Every baby is different, and it may take some experimenting to figure out how portable your snoozer really is.

Should baby sleep in a swing?

If your baby can sleep in a moving car or stroller while you run errands, what about in a swing? The Canadian Paediatric Society has some very specific recommendations on that.

Just for fun

Favourite first books

Now that your baby is becoming increasingly alert and your bedtime routine is shaping up, it’s time to stock that bookshelf. There are lots of wonderful first books for baby, and every parent has a favourite from their own childhood. Mix classics like Goodnight Moon, Time for Bed and Brown Bear, Brown Bear with all the adorable board books by Sandra Boynton and add in modern faves like Press Here and you’re well on your way to a great collection. Here are some must-reads for your list.

Favourite first books

Read more:
Your baby: 6 weeks old
100 days of hell: How I survived the first months with my baby

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