Your 3 Week Old Baby – Development, Growth, And Milestones

Your 3 Week Old Baby’s Milestones And Development

July 16, 2019 Updated May 27, 2021

newborn baby – baby at 3 weeks old
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You officially have a 3 week old baby!

When is my baby going to do anything?

Having an eating-sleeping-pooping machine is fun and all, but sometimes you wonder when your baby is actually going to do anything. Well, wonder no more, because you’re about to start noticing some changes: more alertness and a wider variety of sounds and coos (although if you don’t see a change yet, no need to worry, because developmental milestones are bullshit anyway).

Your 3 Week Old Baby’s Development & Growth Milestones

At 3 weeks old, your little bean should be able to lift her head up for a few moments when held against your shoulder. It’s still wobbly and unstable, so make sure to support it at all times. Since her vision is developing by leaps and bounds, your little explorer will be more alert and curious and should be able to discern and focus on more complex shapes than just your areola and the bottle. So put some fun mobiles, get up close and personal in front of her eyes, and settle in for a nice chat.

Your 3 Week Old Baby’s Physical, Social, And Cognitive Milestones

At 3 weeks old, your little one should be sleeping a recommended 14 to 17 hours of sleep. But since babies don’t give a damn about your recommendation, their total sleep numbers can vary. The National Sleep Foundation recommends newborn babies between 0 and 3 months sleep no less than 11 hours per day, and no more than 19 hours.

Tummy time is important now – it’ll help strengthen baby’s neck and shoulder muscles for the all-important task of looking around. At first you’ll put her down, cringe inwardly as her little face bumps against the floor, and wonder if she can inhale heinous carpet-germs through the blanket you’ve spread out. But seriously, you’re doing her a favor. It’s like a mini-workout.

Your 3 Week Old Baby’s Health

If your newborn is seemingly crying for no reason even after you’ve changed, fed, and burped them, they may just need extra comfort and skin-to-skin cuddles in your arms. Remember, you can’t “spoil” a baby this young by holding and cradling them for longer periods of time. So if anyone says otherwise, shush them away.

However, if the baby’s cries sound different than before, or sound like she may be in pain, call your pediatrician.

How do I spot symptoms of colic?

Babies cry. A lot. It’s what they do (those assholes). But how do you know when it’s something more than typical fussing? Start with the “Rule of Three.” The definition of colic is when baby cries for at least three hours per day, at least three times a week, for three weeks (even though all of her needs have been met). If your baby cries inconsolably for long periods of time and you have no idea how to help, it’s sucky and overwhelming for both of you. The good news is that colic rarely lasts longer than a couple of months (the bad news: it will seem like the longest couple of months of your LIFE).

There are many ways to temporarily soothe a colicky baby – gently bouncing up and down, massage, swaddling, repetitive noise such as a washing machine or hair dryer – and just like everything else, you’ll find out through trial and error what works. But if you just can’t provide relief, it’s totally okay to walk away for a few minutes. Leaving your baby to cry in a safe place, like a crib, is not going to hurt anybody – and a breather may just save your sanity.

Bathtime Babe

After the umbilical cord stump has fallen off, you can officially move on from sponge baths to real ones with your little mermaid. If your baby boy was circumcised, make sure the area has healed and continue with sponge baths until you get the all clear from your pediatrician. Per the American Academy of Pediatrics, fill up a towel-lined plastic baby bathtub with about 2 inches of warm, not hot, water. Check the temperature by placing a few drops on the inside of your forearm. Using a clean washcloth, gently bathe using a mild baby soap. To keep the baby warm, keep the areas you’re not bathing at the moment covered in a clean towel, before moving on.

This article was originally published 2015.