PROFILE: Average 2 week old babies sleep a lot – as much as 18 hours a day. They hear well and they see things well if they’re close up, like Mom/Dad’s face. They let you know when they need something by crying, they let you know when they’re happy by getting quiet, they respond to your voice and your touch, and they like to look at you eye to eye (eye contact). They’re alike in that they all need to be held and cuddled and they all need a lot of love and attention; they’re all different in the way they sleep, eat and cry and in the way they respond to people.
DEVELOPMENT: Watch and listen to your baby. You’ll learn that she can tell you what she needs by the way she behaves, and you’ll find that at 2 weeks she’s already learning to recognize and to love and trust the people who make her feel safe and cared for.
FEEDING: The only food your baby needs is breast milk or iron-fortified formula. Babies initially spend almost all of their time sleeping and eating. Each baby will develop her own schedule, but most babies eat every 3-4 hours at this age; many breast-fed babies eat even more often. All babies need to eat at night too, and won’t generally sleep all night without feeding until they’re at least 3 months old. Feed your baby when she wakes up and seems hungry, and, over time, you and she will develop a system that works for her and your family. Breast-fed infants will often eat more frequently than formula fed babies. Pay attention to the cues your baby is giving you. Crying doesn’t always mean hunger. If you think it’s not quite time for a feeding, try checking other things that may make your baby cry, such as a wet/dirty diaper, uncomfortable temperature, or they may just want to be held. Also, don’t be surprised if your baby has a growth spurt and after eating less frequently suddenly starts wanting to feed very often for several days. Follow her lead, breast feed more often, and your milk supply will soon catch up.
TOYS/ACTIVITY: A parent or caregiver is the best “toy” for a 2-week old baby! The most important activity is your interaction with your baby – touching, cuddling, and talking to her while you diaper her, while you bathe her, and in between, whether the baby is quiet or fussy. Fathers and other family members should get in on it too – babies need experience with a variety of people, but watch carefully when young children play with the baby. At times when the baby has to entertain herself let her listen to soothing, relaxing music and give her high-contrast (black and white) things to look at. Swaddling – wrapping tightly so the arms and legs are held still, close to the body – may help quiet an upset baby, but ordinarily it’s best if baby is free to wiggle. Active movement helps to entertain her and helps her to develop good strength and skill in arms, legs, neck and back. You can begin to encourage “tummy time” at two weeks, letting your baby have short, supervised periods of play on her tummy on the floor or a play-mat. We recommend avoiding the use of “mitts” on your baby’s hands as these limit her chance to explore her world.
FUSSINESS: Most healthy babies begin to cry and fuss a few hours every day, no matter what you do to soothe them. Increased crying may begin around two weeks of age, even in a baby who cried very little before. If your baby is very fussy, let us know so we can help you through this short, but difficult period!
SAFETY: More children die from auto accidents than from any other single cause. You can make your baby safer by making sure you have the right car seat for a baby this age and by making sure you use it in exactly the right way. Be sure your car seat is rear-facing and that you have installed the car seat exactly as the manufacturer recommends. The back seat is the safest; Never put a child in the front seat if your car has a passenger airbag!
We recommend placing your baby to sleep on its back. Babies who sleep on their stomachs are at increased risk for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
If people smoke in the house ask them to quit or at least smoke outside. Smoking in the same house or during car rides can seriously affect your baby’s health – it has been linked to SIDS, respiratory problems, ear infections and learning problems. If you or someone in your household needs help to quit, ask us about programs to help people quit smoking. Effective smoking cessation programs are available in our community and all insurances, even Medicaid, will pay for them.
Check to see that your hot water heater is set for a temperature of 120 degrees or less. This will help prevent accidental scald burns when you are bathing your child.
FAMILY ISSUES: All families feel stressed at this point – be sure you ask for and accept help you need from friends and relatives. Be realistic about chores and activities. Try to sleep when the baby sleeps. Encourage Dad to stay involved. It is common for siblings to act up; be understanding while trying to find special time for them. Many mothers go through the “baby blues” or postpartum depression. If this is still going on, ask for help!
ILLNESSES: Signs of illness in your baby may include poor feeding (skipping 2 or more feeds in a row), or extreme fussiness or sleepiness. It is important to have a rectal thermometer at home to check the baby’s temperature (in her bottom) if these signs occur. If you are concerned about your baby, or if the temperature is greater than 100 degrees, please call the office or the on-call pediatrician.
FOLLOW-UP: The next check-up is at ONE MONTH OF AGE for a full check of growth and development, and to address any concerns you might have.