At seven weeks old, your baby is undergoing significant development, and as a parent, you are probably facing new challenges and milestones. One of the primary concerns at this stage is your baby’s sleep and potential regressions, as it is affected by various factors such as growth spurts, feeding patterns, and the development of their circadian rhythm.
In this blog, we will discuss your baby’s development at 7 weeks old, focusing on sleep and the factors that tend to affect it. We will also provide some tips to help you and your baby navigate this stage and maximize sleep.
At nearly 2 months old, your baby is becoming more alert and responsive. They may start to smile, coo, and even respond to your voice. Your baby’s vision is continually improving, and by 7 weeks, they may start to show interest in simple patterns and high-contrast objects. Give your baby some time each day to sit and look at objects, as this can help stimulate their visual development. Additionally, allowing your baby to have some independent playtime, even if it’s just for a few minutes, can be beneficial for both baby and caregiver. It helps your baby to start developing a sense of independence and gives caregivers a short but much-needed break. Additionally, your baby is developing better head and neck control.
Tummy time is crucial for your baby’s development. It helps strengthen the neck, shoulder, and arm muscles, and it also helps prevent flat spots on the back of your baby’s head. Aim for a few minutes of tummy time several times each day, and gradually increase the duration as your baby gets stronger. Additionally, tummy time is a great time to practice assisted rolling as a way to help your baby build muscle memory and develop that movement.
At this age, it’s likely your little one may be fussy in the evening starting around 5 pm and lasting for up to 3 hours. This “witching hour,” a colloquial term not used in medical literature, is common and typically peaks around 6 weeks of age, and should let up by the time your baby reaches 3 months of age. Though they’re similar, witching hour differs from colic in that colic is more defined. Babies with colic cry for more than 3 hours a day, for more than 3 days per week, for more than 3 consecutive weeks. Whereas with witching hour, your little one may be fussy, or downright irritable on and off throughout the evening.
Though it’s tough to single out any one particular culprit for this period of fussiness, there are a few things that may make witching hour worse like digestion issues, overtireness, or hunger. By now, you’ve probably got a few tricks up your sleeve for calming your fussy baby, but it’s always good to have a variety of strategies and tick off your mental checklist if your usual soothing strategies aren’t working:
Remember, this is a phase that will pass, and it’s okay to seek help if needed. Dealing with a fussy baby can be incredibly stressful, so don’t forget to take care of yourself as well. As always, if you have questions or concerns about your baby’s behavior, it’s best to consult your pediatrician. If your baby seems to be in pain or if you are concerned about their well-being, it’s always okay to seek medical advice.
Your 7 week old baby’s sleep patterns are still evolving. They may sleep anywhere from 11-19 hours in a 24-hour period, but that amount of sleep can vary widely from baby to baby. Some babies may start to have a longer initial sleep stretch at night, but it’s still common for babies to wake up every 2-4 hours for night feeds. While late bedtimes of 9-10pm are still normal, in just a few more weeks your little one’s circadian rhythm will be circulating enough melatonin for an earlier and more regular bedtime to emerge. Additionally, their sleep cycles will start to resemble those of adults and they will spend less time in REM sleep. This maturation of sleep around 3-4 months of age is what’s commonly referred to as the 4-month sleep regression.
This is one example of sleep regression, which is a period when a baby who has been sleeping well suddenly starts waking up more frequently, has trouble falling asleep, or changes their sleep patterns. While there are commonly recognized sleep regressions at 4 months, 6 months, 8 months, and 12 months, there is no widely recognized sleep regression at 7 weeks old. However, it’s still common for babies to experience sleep challenges around this time due to various factors such as adjustment to the external environment. Establishing good sleep habits now can help to manage sleep regressions in the future.
An additional note about nighttime diapering: As your baby moves towards the two-month mark, they will start to have fewer bowel movements overnight. When this happens, there is no need to change your baby’s diaper for every little wetness! Diaper changes can be stimulating and cause your baby to fully wake up, which is something you want to avoid in the middle of the night if possible. Additionally, as babies get older, they will need to tolerate a wet diaper for longer periods as they start to sleep for longer stretches at night. Unless your baby suffers from diaper rash, a good absorbent diaper and a generous layer of diaper cream should get you through much of the night. That said, please DO change your baby’s diaper if it is soiled with a bowel movement or if the diaper is going to leak imminently. Stimulating as a diaper change can be in the middle of the night, changing your baby head to toe for a leak can be even more so! If leaks are happening frequently, it might be a sign that your baby needs to move up a diaper size. It’s also a good idea to consider sizing up for the nighttime diaper even if your baby is in the correct size for daytime diapers.
As your baby starts to become more aware of the world around them, they will also become more aware of their sleeping environment. As they get closer to 3 months, they will start to form some strong sleep associations with how they get to sleep and where they sleep.
Be patient with yourself and your baby as you navigate this stage. It’s a time of learning and adjustment for both of you.
Navigating your baby’s development at 7 weeks old can be challenging, especially when it comes to sleep. However, by creating a sleep-friendly environment, being responsive to your baby’s needs, and establishing good sleep habits, you can help lay the foundation for healthy sleep habits in the future. Remember, this phase will pass, and it’s okay to seek help when needed. Self-care is important for parents too, and it’s okay to ask for help when you need it. If you have any concerns about your baby’s sleep or development, don’t hesitate to consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice.
For more information on sleep regressions at other ages, check out this blog on sleep regressions here.