Are you familiar with Wonder Weeks or leaps of development that babies make in the first few years of their life? As a first time mom, I had never heard about these before and then I had a baby. I thought to myself there has to be a reason that she is much more clingy and fussier than normal! And then, viola, I stumbled across the Wonder Weeks on my August 2012 Birth Club on Babycenter. Since Makenzie will be 6 months old on Saturday, she is currently going through Mental Leap 5, which generally happens from 22 ½ to 26 ½ weeks. The timing of the mental development of a baby is linked to the age since conception and not to the age since birth. Therefore, to know when your baby is making a leap, you have to fill in the due date, and not the date of birth. So even though she will be 26 weeks tomorrow, in theory, she is really only 22 weeks.
Below is a look into the Wonder Week of Relationships:
Your daughter makes a leap in her mental development during this period, from 22 ½ to 26 ½ weeks. With this leap comes a lot of changes in your baby’s head. She suddenly discovers so many new things, which is challenging for her. After this leap, your baby will start to perceive relationships, including distance, between the things that make up her world. Suddlenly the world is a very big place and she is a very small part. Your baby now understands that the distance between you and her increases! As her mother, you can walk away, even if only into the next room, and you might as well have gone to China if she can’t get to you because she’s stuck.
-Cries more, more often, or longer; (Yes, yes, and yes).
-Asks for more attention;
-Sleeps less or worse and eats less; (Sleeps less: Yes definitely. Eats less: No way, she is a hungry little dragon these days)!
-Is not pleased with many things.
While going through this leap, parents often notice that their baby starts to protest when being dressed or a diaper is changed (See, “Who taught you how to alligator roll” blog). Do you notice your baby grabs her teddy bear more often or “talks” to her bear? This is also a sign she is going through a leap. She is looking for comfort…. (She does this frequently now with her giraffe or Sophie her teether). You will notice that each leap will be more intense, for you too! With every leap your baby is able to ‘demand’ more of you, and you will notice this. It is very normal that you feel axhausted at the end of this leap. (YES).
What Your Baby Might Do After This Leap
The results are very noticeable after this leap, you’ll start to see a whole different human being.
-She’s interested in people who “act differently” as compared to “normal”;
-Has an immense interest in details such as zippers, labels, or stickers;
-Lifts things up to see if anything is below;
-Tries to untie laces;
-Throws something to see the content;
-Puts food in mouth of others;
-Makes connections between words and deeds;
-Protests as dad or mom walk away;
-Imitates sounds with her tongue;
-She is standing up with a little help or pulls herself to an upward position.
NOTE: A baby never does all this at once!
HOW DOES YOUR BABYS’ WORLD CHANGE DURING A MENTAL LEAP?
With each mental leap that your baby makes, it gains a new kind of perception. It is through this new potential or ability that she is able to perceive new things—that is see, hear, taste, smell and feel new things. All the new things she is perceiving now were already present in the environment before the leap. She just did not notice them because her brain did not make them out at the time. After making the mental leap, she suddenly notices the new things in front her. It is difficult for us adults to imagine this, but your baby’s whole world has now changed.
CONSEQUENCES OF A ‘NEW WORLD’
The new kind of perception your baby gains when she makes a mental leap gives her the ability to develop many new skills that require this level of perception, though it may be some time before she develops a particular skill of the many that are possible. Think of it as a store with different departments where products are sorted by properties they have in common—in this case that they require a particular level of perception. When a mental leap occurs, your baby can enter a particular department for the first time. Once there she needs to choose a product, a skill, to practice. She can not suddenly buy everything offered in the whole department. What she chooses, and how she chooses it, makes your baby unique.
All in all, it’s very cool to see Makenzie going through these milestones but it is also exhausting at the same time! But the phrase that gets mothers through, whether a first time mom or a mom of 5, is that it is just a phase and it will soon pass. At least that is what I tell myself at 3:00 a.m. while trying to comfort Miss Makenzie back to sleep as she is loudly protesting her diaper change or suddenly awake from rolling on her tummy in her sleep. It also helps to know that I am not alone and somewhere in our big world there are mothers of all races and ethnicities doing the exact same thing. And that gives me comfort.