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32-36 weeks

Care for your baby carefully and gently as your baby is small and young.

 

Touching and holding

Babies at this age show increasing tolerance to touch.

What can you do?

  • Prepare your baby for touch by speaking to them in a soft voice.
  • When touching your baby do not stroke, rub or poke, but provide a continuous gentle pressure on their legs, upper body and head.
  • When changing your baby's nappy be calm and gentle, try not to provide a stressful environment for your baby.
  • When holding your baby encourage their arms and legs to remain quite central to their body and hands close to their face.
  • Hold your baby still; avoid rocking as your baby will not tolerate this motion at this age.
  • Move your hands away from your baby slowly and gently, with no abrupt movements.
  • Kangaroo care and skin to skin - holding your baby will be possible depending on your baby's condition and development, please speak to the nurse looking after your baby.

 

Feeding and nutrition

At this age your baby will often wake up and let you know when they are hungry. The rhythm of sucking, swallowing and breathing is now co-ordinated. At this stage your baby will be establishing breast/bottle feeding. Your baby may want dummy/fingers to suck on as they are calming down, however sucking a dummy or fingers for a long period of time prior to feeds may use up their energy for feeding.

What can you do?

Tube feeding

  • Encourage dummies during tube feeds.
  • Provide opportunity for your baby to smell milk prior to feeds.
  • Reduce activities prior to tube feeding.
  • Encourage suckling at the breast.

Breast feeding

  • Breastfeeding is encouraged as soon as oral feeds begin.
  • Reduce care procedures prior to and during feeds.
  • Provide opportunity for your baby to smell milk before feeds.
  • Shield your baby's eyes from light when establishing breastfeeds.
  • Make sure you are in a calm environment.
  • During breast feeding, pause and wind your baby as needed. Do this gently without excessive patting on the back.

Bottle feeds

  • Reduce handling before feeds.
  • Provide an opportunity for your baby to smell milk prior to feeds.
  • Shield your baby's eyes from bright lights.
  • Make sure you are in a calm environment.
  • During feeding hold your baby mostly upright but slightly reclined, so your baby can control how often they swallow.
  • Keep the teat still in your baby's mouth, even when they are resting from feeding they may just need to re-co-ordinate.
  • When your baby becomes disinterested in feeding, try winding your baby gently without excessive patting on the back.

 

Sleeping

At this gestation it is easy to see when your baby is awake (more movements) or asleep (few movements).

What can you do?

  • When your baby is asleep it is important to try not to wake them. Your baby will use fewer calories when sleeping, which will help with growth and development.
  • Avoid light directly into your baby's eyes and try to keep quiet around your baby's bed space.
  • Before giving care to your baby, wake your baby by gently placing your hands on them.
  • When your baby is showing signs of being awake, use this opportunity to do cares.

 

Positioning

At this age your baby's movement will be more meaningful, they will bring their hands to their mouth and their arms and legs to their body. Your baby will generally have smooth movements at this age.

What can you do?

  • Your baby should be nursed with boundaries around them to imitate the womb.
  • Your baby should maintain a snuggled 'fetal' position to facilitate emerging development of extension and flexion of their arms and legs.
  • When doing cares and repositioning your baby, this must be done with slow, gentle movements without sudden changes.
  • Your baby will stretch often and may need repositioning more frequently.

 

Looking, listening and smelling

Your baby will be able to tolerate a variety of sounds.  Babies will begin to show interest of looking at faces and exploring the environment. Looking around for a long period of time will tire your baby.

What can you do?

  • Talking and interacting with your baby should be done when they are awake.
  • Develop a routine for you and your baby.  For example feed, nappy, interact and sleep.
  • When possible let your baby sleep.
  • Keep your baby's bed space light during the day and dark at night.
  • Shading your baby's eyes will make it easier for them to look at you.
  • Provide opportunities for your baby to look at your face.
  • Avoid loud sounds around your baby's bed.
  • Remain still when your baby's eyes are open, as they will not be able to look at moving objects.
  • When your baby is awake, provide soft rhythmic sounds.
  • Protect your baby from strong odours like perfume and aftershave.