30 June, 2020
Wonder Weeks for Parents
Approximate reading time: 5 minutes
Bubs just isn’t the same. You can’t put him down. He doesn’t want anyone but you. He just seems a bit ‘off’.
You’ve hit one of those fussy periods… again.
What are Leaps?
Drs Frans X. Plooij and Hetty van de Rijt call these periods ‘leaps’. If you haven’t checked out their book, The Wonder Weeks, you should. We know you are tired so here's a very quick summary of their concepts and some suggestions.
Your baby is taking quantum leaps forward in their development.
Leaps are days, or even weeks, when your baby is more clingy, cranky and seems to cry fairly consistently. Even the calmest of babies have these times.
In fact, it was found that there are 10 predictable times in the first 20 months of life. These occur approximately at 5, 8, 12, 19, 26, 37, 46, 55, 64 and 75 weeks.
These periods are marked by challenging behaviours and appear to be ‘regression’. It’s actually a sign your baby is progressing forwards.
I’ll repeat that because you need to hear it - one small step back and a giant leap forward!
These leaps occur when your darling angel (yes they will go back to an angel again) is undergoing great gains in their mental capacity. Their brain is physically & functionally changing to learn these new skills. They are undergoing great neuroplastic changes.
So the first thing for parents to know - you are not alone!
All babies go through these periods. Some are a bit easier than others, but all babies have these leaps. It’s a normal and healthy part of their development.
What do Leaps mean for Parents?
During leaps, you’ll likely be sleep deprived. At times, really sleep deprived.
Your baby may suddenly only sleep on you or want to comfort feed constantly. You are stuck. Constantly carrying your little one around. Stuck on the couch as they sleep only on you.
Feeding at all hours of the night. You start to hunch over. Your body may start to ache from the physical demands of a leap.
It’s common for headaches and back pain to rear its ugly head in these times. Just what you need when your baby won’t be put down and has to be rocked to sleep again.
You’re tired and over it all. Quick meals become the go-to. Cheese and biccie lunches start to creep in more frequently. But then, you are really really tired so you need chocolate, coffee and other stimulants. Your blood sugar spikes then crash. You feel worse for it.
It’s also not uncommon for nausea, fatigue and emotional problems to occur. You may be as teary as your baby at times.
How to Look After Parents during Leaps?
It’s easy to forget about yourself. All your attention, energy and love goes towards your bubba. Particularly now that they are upset.
But you can’t pour from an empty cup. There’s plenty of research, and common sense, that says parents who look after themselves postnatally are healthier later in life. You might remember the pelvic floor exercises, or your might not. You might do some squats with your baby for some exercise - or not.
It’s very easy for things to fall by the wayside.
Make sure you get as much sleep as you can. Go to bed early (even if it’s just to rest) and rest when your baby rests. Yes - the laundry can wait.
You may express extra milk so that you can sleep in or go to bed early. Make sure to practice the bottle first if your baby has never had a bottle before.
You’ll start to see a pattern in this behaviour. Some babies may start a leap one to two weeks ‘off schedule.’ Where possible, use your baby’s past patterns to guide any commitments you have coming up. For example, returning to work between leaps may ease the stress for you and your bubba.
Before you change routines, like starting solids or trialling new sleep solutions, check to see where your baby is at. If they are in a leap, it’ll likely create more drama than if you waited a few days or weeks.
Knowing that these fussy periods are coming also means you should organise some help. You may need some time to yourself - so book nurturing appointments in this time as long as you have someone to mind your bubba.
Stock the freezer full of meals ahead of the worst weeks (‘thundercloud’ periods).
Ask for help! You are not a failure to reach out for assistance. These are tricky times. It may be getting someone to bring over the groceries, taking the baby for a walk or doing some housework for you.
We are here for you
You need some care and support. We provide experienced postpartum healthcare.
- Fussy periods are defined by the 3 Cs: cranky, crying and clinging.
- ‘Leaps’ are fussy periods when your baby is undergoing big advances in their mental & neurological development.
- Plan around these Wonder Week Leaps to ensure that you have a break and nurture yourself.
- Understand that it’s common to experience headaches, back pain, fatigue, nausea and emotional problems during these periods - more so than others.
About the Author
Dr Cassie Atkinson-Quinton - Paediatric-Trained Chiropractor & Paediatric Sleep Coach
Dr Cassie is a paediatric-trained chiropractor, sleep coach and, most importantly, mumma to Master H. She loves seeing newborns grow into inquisitive toddlers and busy school kids. She assesses for neurological development (primitive reflexes), posture, sleep health and movement patterns. She's an eager learning just like the kids she sees.
"It's better to grow healthy children than fix injured adults."