What Are Mental Leaps

Having a baby is a fascinating experience, because watching your new little person learn and develop is intriguing. Do you ever wonder what’s going on in your little one’s brain? There’s something called “mental leaps” that can help you understand how your baby is growing and changing.

It’s also called the “wonder weeks,” meaning there are weeks in a baby’s life during which certain things are typical because of mental leaps. A book entitled The Wonder Weeks was written in 1992 by anthropologist Hetty van de Rijt and psychologist Frans Plooij. The ideas in that book have expanded into several other books. There’s even a Wonder Weeks app to help parents track these changes.

It may be easier to understand mental leaps in terms of technology. Think of a mental leap like an update on one of your devices. All of a sudden something happens that’s beyond your control, but after it happens your phone or laptop can do many new things. Similarly, during these weeks your baby goes through an update, and afterward things change, and the brain and abilities are upgraded.

An update to your baby can be more frustrating and overwhelming than updating your phone. The change in your little one may come with a fussy phase, and a crying, cranky baby can be difficult to manage. It’s important to remember, though, that these mental leaps are part of a larger developmental picture. The app and the books can help you understand your baby, but they’re not a definitive guide to every single child. Each child develops at his or her own pace, and sometimes a fussy week can be a sign of a potential illness or a new tooth.

Even though every baby doesn’t follow the same schedule, it’s worth noting when these mental leaps occur. There are ten in the first two years of life, based on 40 weeks gestation. Remember that if your baby was early or late, you should adjust the weeks. The basic schedule is 5, 8, 12, 19, 26, 30, 37, 46, 55, and 64 weeks.

By keeping track of these weeks, you may be able to notice when your child is about to suddenly develop a new mental ability. If the week is approaching and your baby becomes grumpy and clingy, crying more, feeding more, and acting happy only when held. This is because the baby is changing and feels unsettled. Being close to you is comforting, and babies need more love and attention during a mental leap. These leaps can last a couple of days or a few weeks, but just remember, your baby is likely to be calmer and happier afterwards.

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