It’s the final week of the newborn period, also known as the “fourth trimester”—for you and baby! And while things don’t change overnight the moment baby turns 12 weeks old, this time marks the end of baby’s transition into the world and your initial transition into parenthood. Your 11-week-old baby is working hard growing their brain and body, learning about the world around them and becoming more and more aware of, and interested in, their surroundings. As a parent, you’re officially the world’s premier expert on your individual child as you’ve learned to interpret their signals, bring them smiles and make them feel safe and cared for. Here’s what to expect for 11-week-old development, milestones and more.
11-Week-Old Baby Milestones & Development
At this point in time, baby gains about 1 inch per month and 1 ounce per day. Their head circumference grows about 1 centimeter per month as well. Go, baby, go!
On the cusp of the next round of milestones, an 11-week-old baby is almost out of the fourth trimester and probably feeling pretty comfortable in their new world. There’s a huge range when it comes to 11-week-old baby milestones and development, with each child exhibiting strengths in certain areas and still working on others. Some infants may be close to rolling over from their belly to their back, while others could show off a strong grip and can hold an object for more than a few seconds. Make sure they get plenty of tummy time to continue to strengthen their back and neck muscles.
For parents who are exclusively breastfeeding, there’s less focus on how much baby drinks and more emphasis on following baby’s cues to make sure they’re getting milk whenever they’re hungry. When bottle-feeding is involved, parents often wonder how much an 11-week-old baby should eat. The answer is the same as last week: Around 4 to 5 ounces every three to four hours is typical. Concerned parents, especially those who are breastfeeding and can’t go by numbers, can tell baby is getting enough to drink if they have at least five wet diapers a day. For those who are bottle-feeding, try to keep it under 32 ounces in a 24-hour period.
This week there’s a small but mighty milestone in 11-week-old baby sleep: Your little one is developing their body temperature rhythm and circadian genes. It’s an important step in the process of establishing the circadian rhythm that eventually leads to solid sleep at night; our bodies regulate our temperature not only based on the external environment but also on our own internal clocks. We tend to be warmest in late afternoon and coolest toward the end of our sleep. The upshot: Baby is going to continue to get better at consolidating their sleep, hopefully leading to longer stretches at night.
Baby should still be getting 14 to 17 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. A baby at 11 weeks old will likely take three naps a day. At this age, some infants are starting to sleep five or six hours in a row at night, but if that’s not the case, don’t panic. You’ll get there!
Is baby’s skin suddenly looking red and flaky? Those dry, irritated patches on baby’s chin, cheeks and forehead might be eczema, a rash that affects at least 10 percent of children and usually starts appearing within the first six months of life, with the average onset at 3 months. It can be hereditary, but it can also be triggered by an allergen in baby’s environment, like a chemical or fragrance. Mild cases can usually be treated with an over-the-counter cream or natural moisturizer, but more severe cases may need a prescription from the pediatrician.
Should I be concerned about thumb-sucking?
Finger- and thumb-sucking are some of the most common ways that babies learn to self-soothe, and it can even begin in the womb; 90 percent of newborns show signs of it within the first few hours after birth. Some parents prefer it over a pacifier, since babies are more likely to find their own fingers during the night than pacifiers that fall out. Most kids stop on their own between the age of 2 and 4 years old, so you have plenty of time before you need to worry about how to get them to stop. Prolonged thumbsucking can cause potential dental issues, but for now, if your 11-week-old baby can successfully bring their hands to their mouth, then more power to them.
When will baby laugh?
Hopefully you’re getting some sweet, sweet baby smiles at this point. But what about giggles and belly laughs? It may be soon! Look for a baby laugh starting around 3 or 4 months old. Try tickles or blowing raspberries to see if you can start coaxing some responses.
When can babies hold their heads up?
At 11-weeks old, baby has gained a lot of head control, and during tummy time you’ve probably seen your little one holding their head up at a 45 degree angle—so close! So when can babies hold their heads fully upright? When they’re 3 months old, most babies can push their chests up and raise their head to 90 degrees when lying on their stomachs, and by 4 months they’ll likely have full, steady head control.
Baby massage basics
It may feel strange at first to give your 11-week-old baby a massage, but there are a lot of benefits to this simple practice. Baby massage can help with bonding, digestion, muscle tone, brain development, immune system, sleep and more. You can incorporate the practice into your bedtime routine after a bath. When baby is clean and diapered, lay them down on their back or belly and gently move your hands in circular motions over their body. If you want to alleviate gas or constipation, you can focus on the stomach, while massaging the ears can help with sleep. A little lotion or oil can be useful. If you’re not sure where to start, consider taking an infant massage class.
- Weigh your stay-at-home and work options. Whether you always knew you’d be a stay-at-home parent or the path only became clear as parental leave came to a close, it’s a big decision. According to some reports, 7 percent of dads and 28 percent of moms stay at home full-time. There are a bunch of considerations that can lead to this choice, including values, family finances, access to childcare and more. Before making the decision, make sure there’s a clear and open dialogue between co-parents and an honest look at the budget. Being a stay-at-home parent is a full-time job that should be valued just as much as any salaried position. Returning to work is a perfectly valid choice, as is staying home. Don’t let perceptions of others shape your experience or influence your decision; you know what’s best for your family.
- Be mindful of your medications. Parents who are breastfeeding often wonder whether it’s safe to take medication, since whatever you ingest can make its way into your milk. Perhaps you’re sick and need an antibiotic, or you’re considering antidepressants to help with postpartum depression. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends taking the lowest dose of medication possible and only when necessary. Whatever the case, there are safe options and ways to go about it, but always consult with your doctor. Some over-the-counter medicines, like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, are considered safe to take while breastfeeding, but ask your medical provider first. Avoid medicine that is extra strength, treats multiple symptoms or is long-acting, since those will likely have stronger doses that will stay in your milk longer.
Products You Need at 11 Weeks
- Nail clippers. Now that baby is 11 weeks old, it’s getting to the point where filing their nails may not cut it anymore (pun intended)—you’re going to need some nail clippers. Trimming those itty bitty nails can be super stressful for some parents, so look for ones that are small enough for their little fingers but comfortable for you to hold.
- Baby lotion. Whether you want to give baby a relaxing massage or notice their skin is looking a bit dry, a gentle, fragrance-free baby lotion is useful to have on hand.
- Eczema cream. If you start to spot an eczema rash on your little one, ask the pediatrician about using an over-the-counter cream specifically formulated to help ease symptoms. Here are our top eczema cream recommendations to try.
Weekly Activity for Your 11-Week-Old Baby
While changing diapers may be a far cry from hitting the club, there’s no reason the fun needs to stop just because you’re a parent. In fact, there’s no better time to let down your hair and get baby in on the action with a family dance party. Pick any music you like and play it at a moderate to low volume, then hold your 11-week-old baby and sway, spin and bounce to the beat. In addition to being a fun bonding activity that promotes attachment, dancing with baby can also help the development of their motor skills, environmental awareness and social acumen.