The Wonder Weeks
I should start this post by caveating it with the fact that I am the first to express my frustrations with baby charts and key milestones and goals, what our children ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t be’ doing at certain ages. If anything I think they can at times do more harm than good and distress already overwhelmed new mothers…myself included.
If you read my post on Hector’s lack of speech earlier this year then you’ll know that I’m a bit of a fretter when it comes to development. Lulled into a false sense of security by his earlier than ‘normal’ physical skills I assumed that his mental prowess (read speaking abilities) would follow suit. How naive! How presumptuous! How wrong I would be.
Hector will turn two next month and presently he’s keeping us on the edge of our seats when it comes to his vocabulary. I don’t really want to go over old ground as per the aforementioned post but I will say that he’s keeping mum on the ol’ English language agenda except when it suits him. We have ‘moooooore’ for when he wants more of anything naturally, oh no, Diddy, four, six and eight (no idea why these particular numbers are of special importance), night night, ninny (for dummy), no, hello and bye bye oh and our favourite…cheeeese!
Whilst it’s clear he understands everything we say he’s decided not to be verbally understandable at this stage in time; I mean he’s chatty but most of it is gobbledegook. And you know what, I’m ok with that. Granted it’s frustrating but I’ve backed away from the idea that he really ought to be saying more at this stage of his life. Of the health professionals and nursery staff I’ve spoken to, none seem particularly concerned; they tell me it’s just a question of time.
It’s taken me a while to get to this point, to be ok with the fact that other kids his age have a much wider vocabulary and to try not to take all those Babycentre and other similar baby milestones so seriously. To understand that they are not an exact science but a rough guide of sorts that can be far wide of the margin.
With one exception.
I’m guessing that the majority of you will already be familiar with the book and the app which basically condenses thirty five years of research into handy bite sized chunks for mums and dads to understand why their baby might be overly fussy, crying, demanding or indeed all three.
For those of you who aren’t aware of the concept…allow me to explain.
The premise of the research is that just like physical development or growth, all babies undergo mental development in their first year in a series of ten stages called ‘mental leaps’. Hetty van de Rijt and Frans X. Plooij, the authors of the book, have studied hundreds of babies and mothers and as a result are able to predict, almost to the week, when parents can expect their babies to go through one of these “fussy phases” otherwise known as a leap.
Drastic changes in mental development result in the ability to learn new skills but in doing so a baby’s world is turned upside down. All that was once familiar is no longer so and the changes his or her brain has gone through means that the world suddenly becomes a bewildering place. The result is a cranky, over emotional and fussy baby. Knowing when these leaps occur can help new parents understand the way their baby is thinking and why he or she acts as they do at certain times. It’s up to you then to provide lots of comfort and reassurance.
Whilst Hector was never much of a crier during his first 12 months there were definitely days when it seemed he’d woken up on the wrong side of the bed. Being able to track his ‘stormy days’ and his leaps according to the app gave me reassurance that despite running through the “is he tired/hungry/needing a nappy change/frustrated/bored/teething” checklist and coming up empty, that sometimes it was just a case of waiting it out and cuddling him until he was past it. In short I think it taught me to be patient and to take each day as it came rather than making me feel anxious and worried that he wasn’t performing certain skills at that time.
The book provides more in-depth detail on each mental leap but I found the app to be my saving grace. It was simple to use – you only need to input your due date and your baby’s name – and easy to navigate. Perhaps my favourite part was the chart which as I mentioned above had stormy days (when leaps were taking place) and sunny days (when you could expect your baby to be all smiles and gurgles). From an accuracy point of view I found it to be pretty on the money too; I’ll definitely be using it next time round whenever that may be.
Did any of you use The Wonder Weeks app? What did you think of it? Did you use any other form of baby milestone tool? What are your thoughts on them in general – useful or unnecessary sources of stress? Why not tell us about it in the comments box below…