When we’re pregnant or awaiting adoption, we dream about our baby-to-be, we always envision those beautiful Hallmark card scenes: charming baby ...
Baby insights: Changes in their mind Back
The wonder weeks
Although they lead to exciting new skills, wonder weeks can be tiresome for parents and children alike.
Dutch doctors Frans Plooij & Dr Hetty van de Rijt came up with the term ‘wonder weeks’ to describe the mental developmental leaps babies experience in their first 20 months of life. Plooijoj and van de Rijt found that the leaps they were related to brain and nervous system changes, enabling babies to broaden their perceptual and sensory awareness after each leap.
A baby responds to stimuli early, while in womb by distinguishing sound so certain voices can be recognized after leaving the womb – but they still experience sound, sight, taste, touch and smell as one overall sensation at birth. But with each mental leap, babies are able to use each of their senses in more deliberate ways.
Many parents complain of their child having ongoing fussy phases, or that their child seems to react differently every few weeks. Plooj and van de Rijt say this occurs because babies initially find their new abilities intimidating and confusing; they get frustrated when they don’t know how to control them, and can be overwhelmed by the new experience. Each of these regression periods lasts between seven days and four weeks.
Here are some of the weeks where your child experiences different changes within themselves. Although the timeline may differ with children, but once identified, it will help parents to adjust with these behaviour:
.Leap 1: Anywhere between 4½-5½ weeks
The world of changing sensations: As your baby’s metabolism develops, and has a growth spurt in head circumference, she’s able to notice more of what’s happening in the world. After this week, she’ll look at things more frequently, respond to touch differently, start to give ‘social smiles’, respond to smell, and be more alert during awake periods.
Leap 2: Anywhere between 7½-9½ weeks
The world of patterns: This wonder week helps babies to be able to recognise simple patterns to life, and the way these patterns apply to the way they can use their bodies and find familiarity in the people and objects they see. After this week, your baby will be able to hold her head more steadily, turn her head towards sound, shift her weight while sitting, start showing signs of grasping, feel toys without trying to grasp them, discover and observe parts of her body, look at patterns, and make short grunt-like sounds.
Leap 3: Anywhere between 11½-12½ weeks
The world of smooth transitions: This wonder week helps babies use their senses to distinguish order and constants in their surroundings, and the transitions in sound, movement, light, taste, smell and texture. New skills after this week include following something with her eyes and/or turning her head in a fluid motion, being more active and squirmy, being able to turn her body in different directions, rolling from tummy to back, shaking a rattle, starting to make noises such as screeching and cooing, gurgling and blowing raspberries, responding to something that intrigues her with a reaction such as laughter, showing interest in light, and liking to listen to sounds with various pitches. A sunny week should follow at approximately week 13.
Leap 4: Anywhere between 14½-19½ weeks
The world of events: Babies will be able to understand how series of events lead to outcomes, and experiment with how they can make events happen. After this week your baby will be even more active, have better grasping skills, put things in her mouth, make a lot of motion with toys and activity boards, look for mum and dad, respond to her image in a mirror, make consonant sounds, recognise her name, stop during a feed and push the breast or bottle away when no longer hungry, and show signs of impatience or boredom. A sunny week should follow at approximately 21 weeks.
Leap 5: Anywhere between 22½-26½ weeks
The world of relationships: Your baby’s mobility is helped by better coordination of her limbs. She can now tell the relationships between things. This is often when separation anxiety sets in, because babies are now able to perceive distance and feel isolated from their parents. After this week, she’ll be interested in the different ways people can act, be interested in small details, start to lift and throw things to explore what’s underneath them and what they can do, try to untie things, place food in other people’s mouths, understand how words can mean actions, blow air, make noises with her tongue, and pull up into a standing position, usually with assistance.
Leap 6: Anywhere between 33½-37½ weeks
The world of categories: This week is key for babies being able to recognise that various things can be grouped or categorised together, each with distinguishing characteristics and properties, and a desire to explore them. After this week your child will demonstrate that she understands some words, recognises her own reflection and perhaps plays games of peekaboo (face hide and seek) with herself, imitate others, express her moods, like to play games and sing songs, and will start to practice crawling.
Leap 7: Anywhere between 41½-46½ weeks
The world of sequences: Babies now start to comprehend sequences, and how there are various steps involved for tasks and putting things together. After this week your baby will be able answer simple questions, point at things, put together simple puzzles, know how to speak on the phone, stack rings, imitate gestures, and will occasionally try to dress herself.
Leap 8: Anywhere between 51½ -54½ weeks
The world of programs: This week follows on from your baby experimenting with sequences which are dependent on individual actions, and the repercussions of those actions, rather than straight repetition. Her new skills include understanding that getting dressed is a signal for activity, putting items away, showing preferences for things she wants to do, trying to draw, and using observation as a major tool for learning.
Babies can’t immediately master all the skills that become available to them after each leap – they’ll focus on the things that interest them most