Letting Life Lead
Note: A collection of information I put together to help overwhelmed moms in various groups I’ve been a member of understand what is going on with the personality changes and inexplicable fussiness with their babies. Is my baby normal? What is going on? Will this ever end? Will it happen again? Yes. Lots of growing of brains and bodies. Yes. And, yes. Knowing when, why, how, and how long these phases occur really helps with coping and preparing!
Keep in mind that ages are approximations. All babies go through these phases, though not necessarily in the order listed. If a phase seems especially long to you, it is often because different things are happening in a series one after the other; no breaks. For example, teething may be followed by a growth spurt, which is followed by a wonder week, which is then immediately followed by teething again, etc. Babies who seem especially capable of changing personalities over night with inconsolable behavior may be experiencing two or three things at the same time, and then there is a lull between the next big whopper.
Temporary insomnia during this period of rapid growth in brain and body is exceedingly common — it is not unlike the restlessness and sleeplessness women experience during pregnancy, and why they’ll get up at night to eat, clean, or rearrange the living room. It is also the same phenomenon when you get into a good book or anticipate a new job or meeting or big event in your life and you can’t sleep. It does pass. Some people call this “sleep regression, but I hate that term with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. Babies don’t regress sleep…they don’t forget how to sleep any more than pregnant women do when they are up all night with heartburn.
The first six months babies experience very rapid rates of growth. If it seems as if they are outgrowing your favorite outfit over night, they are! It slows down the second half of the first year, but the growth spurts happen pretty regularly until age two. Thereafter, about every six months until around age six when you’ll probably notice big growth spurts tend to occur in spring or summer.
3 days, 6 days, 9 days, 12 days, 3 weeks (BIG), 6 weeks, 9 weeks, 3 months (BIGGER), 6 months (HUGE), 9 months (HUGE-ER), 12 months (EGADS!), 15 months, 18 months (GINORMOUS), 21 months, 24 months (DOOZIE), about every six months thereafter.
Wonder Weeks and Fussy Periods are defined as ten major leaps of development that happen at predictable intervals.
You can get the book at your local library or there is an App for that. If you are following attachment parenting principles, the book is not written for the AP community and you may find some wording of behavior contrary to your core principles, and the chapters are redundant. So redundant, that I want to take my teacher’s red pen to it. However, the book is spot on with when these developments happen and when they occur. It is worth reading and having a copy in your personal library. I bought one for myself just to have it in my collection, but ended up giving it brand new to my Sister-In-Law! You can buy the full book from Amazon here: in paper back The Wonder Weeks (Paperback), or digital The Wonder Weeks Kindle Edition, you can buy just the week you are in Wonder Weeks Leaps (though if you want more than one, you are better off with the app or kindle edition in my opinion), and there is an app available as well The Wonder Weeks App.
The summary info below is from these two websites that gathered and organized the information that I have combined and added to here and there: http://www.mybabysleepguide.com/2012/01/when-are-wonder-weeks.html and http://www.whosthatmom.com/wonder-weeks-week-by-week/. The leaps are linked directly to their kindle counterpart. However, if you intend to buy more than one it is more cost effective go to with the App or the Kindle Edition.
Wonder Week 5: The World of Changing Sensations
Fussiness starts around 5 weeks and usually lasts 1-7 days. Baby’s perceptions of the outside world start changing as she starts sensing more of the stimuli around her. Normal behavioral changes include Increased crying and clinginess. During this time, Baby may love skin-to-skin contact. Trouble sleeping (more than usual) is common.
Wonder Week 8 – The World of Patterns:
Fussiness starts around 8 weeks and usually lasts 3-14 days. Baby starts to recognize patterns using all senses. She starts distinguish herself from the world around her. This is a huge paradigm shift. Demands more attention; Increased crying; Is clingy; Decreased appetite; Sucks thumb.
Wonder Week 12 – The World of Smooth Transitions:
Fussiness starts around 12 weeks/2.8 months and usually lasts 1-7 days. Baby’s movements become less jerky; She is able to perceive more nuances in her senses. May be quieter than usual; Sleeps poorly; Is clingy; Decreased appetite.
Wonder Week 19 – The World of Events
Fussiness starts around 15 weeks/3.5 months, peaks at 17 weeks and skills appear around 19 weeks. It usually lasts 1-6 weeks. From now on Fussy periods will last longer than previously. Baby can now conceptualize sequence of events (grab toy then inspect toy then put in mouth). Demands more attention; Increased crying; Is clingy; Mood swings.
Wonder Week 26 – The World of Relationships.
Fussiness starts around 23 weeks/5.3 months, peaks at 26 weeks and skills appear around 26 weeks. It usually lasts 1-5 weeks. Starts to perceive distance between objects (and people); Starts to understand basic cause and effect. Demands more attention; Sleeps poorly; Is clingy; Increased crying/crankiness; Dislikes diaper changes.
Fussy Period (Not Listed as a Leap)
Weeks 29/30 or 6.8 months – This isn’t actually a Wonder Week, but many babies act fussy during this time as they begin to understand that their mommy can leave them.
Wonder Week 37 – The World of Categories
Fussiness starts around 34 weeks/7.8 months, peaks at 36 weeks and skills appear around 37 weeks. It usually lasts 3-6 weeks. Baby understands that objects can be categorized into groups (foods/toys). Demands more attention; Sleeps poorly; May cling to your clothes; Acts more “babyish”; May be quieter than usual.
Wonder Week 46 – The World of Sequences
Fussiness starts around 42 weeks/9.7 months, peaks at 44 weeks and skills appear around 46 weeks. It usually lasts 3-7 weeks. Baby starts recognizing the importance of order and how to put things together. Shyer with strangers; Moody; Jealous; Sleeps Poorly; Acts more “babyish”; May be quieter than usual.
Wonder Week 55 – The World of Programs
Fussiness starts around 51 weeks/11.7 months, often peaks at 53 weeks and skills appear around 55 weeks. It usually lasts 3-6 weeks. Baby’s understanding of sequences evolves to understanding of multiple means to an end (different sequences can accomplish the same thing). Moody; Jealous; Sleeps Poorly; Acts more babyish; May daydream; May be mischievous; Loss of appetite.
Wonder Week 64 – The World of Principles
Occurs around 14.7 – 15 months. Baby begins thinking about how to accomplish certain goals; Starts making choices and conceptualizing consequences. Wants more physical contact; Is shyer with strangers; Wants to be entertained; Moody; Sleeps poorly; Acts more babyish.
Wonder Week 75 – The World of Systems
Occurs around 17.2 – 18 months. Baby can understand and differentiate between systems (her family vs. her friend’s family); She understands that she can choose how she wants to behave; Starts to develop notion of self and conscience. Is clingy; Is shyer with strangers; Jealous; Moody; Sleeps poorly; Acts more babyish.
Leaps over 20 months are not included in the book.
Other wonder weeks have been documented throughout childhood. It is also suspected that adults even go through some wonder weeks. If your two-year old, or preschooler, or kindergartener, pre-teen, or teenager suddenly seems “off” or “emotional” or “having trouble sleeping” or “just seems like a different kid” — you can likely bet that the are going through some major brain rewiring and/or growth spurt. They will always come out of the other end somehow changed with a new understanding in their eyes that wasn’t there yesterday.
Obviously this is highly variable, but they often happen often during spurts and wonder weeks adding to the behavioral changes that often confound parents. It is not uncommon for babies to sprout four or more teeth at the same time. When I say highly variable, I mean totally unpredictable. My daughter got her first tooth at 13 months beginning with the lateral incisors! And my son got two lower incisors at 9 months and not another until he was over a year old. Some babies are born with teeth, or seem to be in a perpetual state of teething for months and months. Molars are especially difficult. I am in my fourth decade of life, and I remember quite vividly the annoyance, soreness, and itch of my twelve-year molars!
6 months: lower central incisors
8 months: upper central incisors
10 months: lower and upper lateral incisors
14 months: first molars
18 months: canines
24 months: second molars
These periods of rapid growth and development can make for very rough nights. Especially for breastfeeding pairs, inevitably co-sleeping happens even in those families who swear they never would. We are social animals and it is normal, and natural to want to sleep close to our babies. There is a way to do it safely. The recommendations for bottle-feeders are slightly different than breastfeeding pairs because their sleep patterns are very different. You can absolutely room share without having to share a sleeping surface.
I recommend Dr. James McKenna as the authority on co-sleeping; he’s actually done research in a sleep lab with actual mother and baby pairs. If you are interested, he has a book you can probably get for free at your local library or ask Dr. Google to read his articles for free, or here Sleeping with Your Baby: A Parent’s Guide to Cosleeping (kindle edition), or Sleeping with Your Baby: A Parent’s Guide to Cosleeping (paperback).
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