The Wonder Weeks

Lauren Gautier-Ollerenshaw

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.

The Wonder Weeks.

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…

Lolly is happiest when she is surrounded by her two boys, husband Ste and two year old Hector, a pile of Maltesers and a mountain of the prettiest blooms. She won’t say no to an espresso Martini either…
Follow Lolly on instagram @graceandgable

11 Comments. Leave new

I have the app and I’ve found the whole concept of the wonder weeks so enlightening. It’s helped me understand my baby (now 15 weeks) much more, and to be more, I guess compassionate, about what he’s going through if that makes sense. It also helped me to stop trying to find a reason for everything and curbed my 4am googling sessions which inevitably lead to more stress and worry!

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My son was exactly the same. Walking by one when is friends were still crawling but while his friends were learning the alphabet he was just making noise. He’s now 3 and I can’t shut him up. Talk talk talk all day long. I only understand about 60% but hopefully it’ll all come right before school next year ? And don’t even get me started on the best time to potty train!!

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I agree this was the best app I used with my daughter and I will absolutely be downloading it again for no.2 due in 5 weeks. I couldn’t quite believe how accurate it was. There were times I’d forget about the app and all of a sudden my daughter would become fussy and cranky, then on checking the app I’d realise she was a day or 2 into another “leap”. Amazing! It’s always easier to cope with a cranky baby when you know there’s a reason for it.

I didn’t follow much else to be honest but I did google EVERYTHING. Sometimes it was encouraging and others not so much. I do wonder how on earth my own mum (and all others of that generation) managed to raise 3 kids without google!?!

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I was a massive fan of the wonder weeks app and used it a lot in the first 6 months but since then I don’t think I’ve opened it once. I set up two profiles as I have twins, not one for each of them(!) but because I wasn’t sure whereabouts in their stages of development they were. Were they on track in their development for their due date? Or for their birth date? So having two profiles I could see what might be going on for both options. It was really more for their ‘stormy’ periods (dear child why Oh why have you been crying for hours for no apparent reason?! Xx) but now they’re a bit older I find I can figure out myself what’s going on. In terms of their development… It’s kind of all over the place! They had only just about mastered sitting on their own when my other mama friends were holding their babies hands to help them walk. One day their signing for milk and then they stop and haven’t done it for ages. Or almost saying the word cat but now haven’t done that for ages either (to be fair though our cat has been very anti social of late). They still don’t walk independently and can’t even stand up on their own (they can pull themselves up on furniture but if you try to get them to stand on their own with no support they just fall over). So I just don’t sweat it. They’ll learn and develop at their own pace and if I’m having to carry them to school or work out that their babblings mean ‘will you help me with making a volcano for my school homework and by the way I need a Lobster costume for the school production of the little mermaid’ then I’ll start to worry but for now I’ll relish having to pick them up and carry them because it won’t be like that for long.

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We used it early on but I found it lost accuracy as we got beyond 6 months.

Have you had a two year check? Our HV said language at this stage should be about 50% decipherable and it’s more about understanding. We are the opposite to you but only those few days apart, all chatter and colours and alphabet and numbers but physically she’s not particularly confident. I did notice with language it kind of just clicked overnight. It’s seeming pretty similar in terms of physical ability which is a leap we are seeing now. I think children either have a leaning to physical stuff or non physical. She’s been playing with Pom Poms and sorting them into size and colour for the best part of 45 minutes whereas some of our friends couldn’t sit still for 5 minutes but can jump and run ‘properly’. They’ll all get there.

It’s cool she’s able to communicate things she’s done that day when Daddy gets home but we did spend an hour yesterday discussing the neighbour’s alarm **yawns**

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We loved the app it explained so much as was spot on the whole time. Stormy days really helped me out when before the app I thought it was something I wasn’t doing… I on a separate note does Hector like Thomas the Tank? “They’re 2 they’re r 4 they’re 6 they’re 8” that’s why we get those numbers from Zach

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Ahh I had forgotten I had used this app. I was late to the party with that one. But a friend had bought me the baby week by week book and it was my saving grace. Every time I had a wobble I would read the latest week and it pretty much explained the reasons for my concerns. It is not my go to present for my new mummy friends.

X

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I think the wonder weeks app saved my sanity! And despite Felix being 5 weeks early it’s always been accurate.

I’ve downloaded the book but not actually read yet! The app is so helpful and reassuring I haven’t bothered with anything else!

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Another fan here: I think my favourite aspect is the fact that the authors emphasise that it’s ok to feel frustrated and confused by the fussy phases. Although the play things per age group just strike me as a bit bizarre in places…

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I’ve decided against getting the app or looking too much into this. I totally see why people like it but I don’t like the thought of looking ahead and seeing a stormy day/week and setting myself up for a tough time. I much prefer to take each day as it comes, well aware that not everyday will be rainbows and sunshine but the bad days never really register as that bad as it’s only when the next day is so much better I realise! I think for me I would find it much tougher knowing it was going to be a more testing day rather than going with the flow of it as frustrating as the can be! x

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[…] can expect their baby to be overly fussy, demanding, or calm at certain times based on their age. Parents praise the app for providing reassurance when they have no clue what's going […]

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