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36-40 weeks

Your baby's systems are generally fully developed at this age, care for your baby gently as they need close observation.

 

Touching and holding

At this age your baby's skin is matured but is a little sensitive to touch.

What can you do?

  • Prepare your baby for touch by speaking to them in a soft voice.
  • 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.
  • 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. During feeding your baby should be able to accept interaction.

What can you do?

Breast feeding

  • Breastfeeding is encouraged as soon as oral feeds begin.
  • Reduce care procedures prior to and during feeds.
  • Provide an 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?

  • Your baby should be sleeping on their back.
  • 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 and interaction.

 

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 and a wide variety of movements. Your baby's movements are smooth and controlled at this age.

What can you do?

  • Position your baby with their hands to their face as this can be very calming.
  • Your baby should sleep lying on their back and be in a variety of positions when awake.
  • Support your baby sitting upright (in a bouncer or car seat) for short periods of time.

 

Looking, listening and smelling

Your baby will start to show periods of being awake and interacting. They can look at items up to 10 inches away from them. Babies at this age show interest in faces and exploring the environment. Your baby will only be able to handle one type of stimulation at a time, like looking or listening.

What can you do?

  • Talk and interact with your baby.
  • 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 and their environment.
  • Avoid loud sounds around your baby's bed.