The Wonder Weeks Blog #4: What the BLEEP do babies know?

Logo_TheWonderWeeks_300dpiHave you ever seen the movie, What the Bleep Do We Know? If not… do so! The way they explain the basics of quantum physics is quite similar to the way I explain how babies’ brains change dramatically every so often and why they can’t perceive certain things before each change in The Wonder Weeks.

In What the Bleep Do We Know?, they explain to us that the Native Americans couldn’t perceive Columbus’ boats at the horizon. Why? Not because they had problems with their vision, but because the boats at the horizon were so very different from anything they had ever seen before.

With babies, it is a little like this, too. If their brains are not yet wired to perceive something that we adults can see, then that something isn’t there as far as the babies are concerned. Of course, there are huge differences between the Native Americans not perceiving the boats and babies being unable to perceive certain things, but the basic idea is the same.

After years of studies, we found out that babies go through 10 mental developmental leaps in their first 20 months of life, and after each leap they perceive the world around them in a totally different way. That frightens them and that is why they get fussy for a while! The bad news is that such periods are very difficult for both parents and babies and they are characterized by the three C’s: Clingy, Cranky and Crying.

And now the good news: We know exactly when these periods start, what babies are able to perceive and learn after each leap and why babies can suddenly do and understand ten times more than before each leap.

image What The BLEEPThe 10 new types or levels of perception that are given to your baby at predictable ages are arranged hierarchically. Each new higher level of perception is superimposed onto the lower levels of perception that are present already. If your baby has reached only the fifth level of perception, that level is on top. Also the peak experiences for your baby are things that we adults take for granted. Every Wonder Week leap enables your baby to perceive the world more in the way we adults do; every leap brings your baby one step closer. So, the younger your baby is, the more difficult it is for us as parents to descend to our babies’ way of looking at the world. But, it is crucial that we try. If you succeed, you can understand and better able to deal with things such as:

•           Sleeping problems

•           Cranky, Crying and Clingy phases

•           Separation anxiety

•           Temper tantrums

And so on…

The best solution to all these problems is to know and be aware of how your baby perceives the world. Basically, to Know What the Bleep Babies Know…

Meet Xaviera Plas-Plooij at BabyExpo Berkshire and hear more about The Wonder Weeks!

The Wonder Weeks Blog #2: Is my baby normal?

Logo_TheWonderWeeks_300dpiWe’ve all seen or experienced it; mums “competing” with each another.  For mums, especially new mums, there is always that worry of “is my kid ‘normal’?” especially when all the other mums in the playground boast of their youngster’s latest accomplishments (standing, walking, rolling over, smiling… the list goes on and on).  The conversation in the playground can get spirited but before Team Mummy gets fed up, takes her toys and heads off, she needs to remember a few things…

All these “competitions” are based on a baby’s developing motor skills.  Trying to achieve the next milestone.  But WHY?

WHO WINS? Every child (with the exception of those with medical issues) will walk, roll over etc. at some point.  But, will those who take their first steps first be the ones to achieve great things later in life?  Would Obama and Steve Wozniak have been the winners in this walking competition? Most probably not!

INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE BACKS IT ALL UP!  Every infant goes through 10 predictable mental development leaps in their first two years.  With each leap the baby / toddler is able to perceive things he never perceived before.  With each leap a whole new world of new things to explore reveals itself to the baby.

Image_Is_my_kid_normal[1]When it comes to what a baby does and on what timescale, it’s up to your baby to pick and choose which skills he wants to master first.  Some babies choose the motor skills (walking, rolling over, etc.) which are really noticeable for everybody; and others choose more sophisticated skills, less-noticeable-but-more-promising-for-the-future skills, like finding out what gravity is and how things change in perspective while moving.

Here’s a great example:  There was a boy whose parents believed he was falling within the autistic spectrum.  While the other kids were playing, making a lot of noise and running about, he sat in the corner, playing with a spool for hours.  Turning it around, looking at it, and doing ‘nothing.’  Or so they thought.  Fast-forward 40 years and he is one of the most innovative IT professionals in the world, holding a double degree from a top university, and a millionaire.

It seems that his doing “nothing” was actually quite something!  Letting the spool slip through his fingers and slowly fall to the ground was his feeling how gravity worked.  He didn’t just throw it to the ground; he felt the action of how it fell.  He played with the movements of his fingers, showing him the point where gravity took over.  He was so absorbed by this that he forgot the world around him.  By turning the spool, he saw how the perspective of things changed while holding it in different angles.  He was doing baby-science and he wasn’t so interested in motor skills.  Actually, he never ever really learned how to walk.  One day he just walked.  He never fell and never made a mistake. Why? Because he took his time observing other people walk and he learned by watching the movements of others.  The same goes with riding his bike, he never really “learned,” he just did it.

He wasn’t the first one to walk or ride a bike, and he didn’t get the experience (or scrapes and bruises) of trial and error but then again, he never needed to.

Meet Xaviera Plas-Plooij at BabyExpo Berkshire and hear more about The Wonder Weeks!
For more information visit

Sid from CBeebies is back!

smallersid2-2Following on from the success of Sid’s Show UK tour and as promised, Oscar Stardust Ltd returns with CBeebies star Sid in their brand new production Sid’s Show – Deep Sea Discovery, a wonderfully imaginative adventure which allows children from 3 years upwards and their families to be entertained and interact with this high energy CBeebies presenter.  Full of fun imaginative games, songs and interactions to keep everyone engaged. This show takes you deep under water to discover wonders of the aquatic.

It’s raining outside but don’t worry Sid has plenty of fun suggestions as to what to do indoors, although his dog Fuzzy doesn’t share Sid’s enthusiasm. To cheer her up, Sid shows Fuzzy their new fish tank. They get into a bit of a disagreement about the TV remote, which falls into the tank. Suddenly magically Sid is swimming in the deeper darker depths of the tank where he encounters anemones, star fish, an octopus, a shark and even a real life mermaid (puppet).

Sid sets out on a quest to help find the upset mermaid’s missing pearls. What will happen to Sid, the mermaid and Fuzzy the dog on this perilous journey and how will you help? With plenty of audience participation it’s time to navigate and explore the wonderful world of Sid’s Deep Sea Discovery.

To find out when Sid’s Show – Deep Sea Discovery is coming to you please visit TICKET OFFER – Use the code BABYEXPO1 to receive £2 off Adult tickets and £1 off Children’s tickets.

See Sid at BabyExpo Berkshire where he will be opening the show & having fun on the Main Stage!

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Music is FUN with Jo Jingles!


Jo Jingles is the music, singing and movement experience for babies and children aged 3 months to 5 years. Providing age specific classes in various locations throughout Berkshire and beyond with the help of our character doll, Jo.

 Jo Jingles classes encourage your baby or child to develop music skills and so much more!  The use of simple rhymes, lyrics, action songs and musical activities helps to support your baby or child’s language development and starts to lay important foundations for your little one’s future development!

Through music, singing and movement Jo Jingles can help your baby or child to develop good listening skills, social skills, early language and cognitive development, confidence and gross motor skills. Most importantly the classes are well structured to be fun and sociable for you and your little one!  Using their high quality themed programmes, instruments, props and visuals to encourage and engage the children, the classes are a very rewarding way to spend 45 minutes together. (Some areas will provide 30min baby classes).

Baby Expo 2Jo Jingles programmes grow with your child; classes start from babies at 3 months (Some areas will do new born sessions) moving to walking-2 years, 2-3 years and 3-5years. In this class they introduce their unique and well-loved music theory modules! All classes at Jo Jingles are limited in size to ensure that everyone gets as much as possible out of their time in the session in a comfortable and relaxed environment.

On the day of the show there will be an exciting opportunity for any babies and children to join in with a Jo Jingles demonstration at 12:30pm, plus Big Jo Jingles is coming to visit the Berkshire Baby Expo and he will be joining in the demo too!

For more information on Jo Jingles visit

The Birth Experience in Tanzania

We love this blog from a student who recently spent time in a maternity unit in Tanzania – really interesting – we hope you enjoy -
The Birth Experience in Tanzania – by Megan

The Ward

The Ward

I am looking to study midwifery next year and was keen to gain some direct experience in a hospital. As a result, I went to Tanzania this summer with GapMedics and worked in the maternity unit of a hospital there for two weeks. The standards were very different from those in the UK, but it was well-run and clean and I got the impression that the local people felt very lucky to have it.
Ante-natal care was relatively sparse and ultrasounds were only carried out if there was a problem during the pregnancy. It was quite common for women not to know their exact due date or even their own age! The ages of women having babies varied, ranging from 15 to 44 years old. We saw quite a few ladies who were having their 5th, 6th or 7th child as well, which is much more common there than it is in this country.

The labour ward consisted of six beds, each one surrounded by thin curtains that didn’t quite meet up at the corners. The beds were very basic and neither pillows nor blankets were provided. There weren’t any toilets so each woman brought in a basin to keep under the bed and she would also bring in several pieces of material that would be used to lie on, cover herself and – eventually – in which to wrap the baby. I loved the way that the babies were swaddled in pieces of brightly patterned material as soon as they were born – they looked so snug and cosy but almost doubled in size with all the layers.

In Tanzania it is not normal for a woman to have her partner or any other family members to support her during the birth. Every woman I saw was there on her own, including the ones who were under 18. The midwife I was shadowing was always lovely to the women, made sure that they understood what was going on and gave them as much privacy as she could, but unfortunately some of the other midwives were more old-fashioned and offered no support until the baby was nearly born.

One of the most noticeable differences in Tanzania was the noise – or lack of it – in the labour ward; the room could be full and not a single woman would make a sound! There was no pain relief available whatsoever so the women were all incredibly brave. Whether they have a high pain threshold or it is just not acceptable to make a noise they were all amazing and I think I only heard one lady making much noise in the fortnight that I spent there.
I assisted in the delivery of one baby, hopefully the first of many – my first direct experience of birth but her seventh! I was amazed at how calm and collected she was, I think it was just another day for her. About 10 minutes after her son had been born, she got dressed and wandered through to the next room with her new baby, no doubt wanting to go home to her other children straight away!

I absolutely loved my time working in the hospital and it only made me more eager to be a midwife. The midwives who worked there and the women themselves all earned my respect and made me more determined than ever to pursue this career.

Scooby Dooby Doo – we’re coming after YOU!

photoKeen to do something extra special with the kids this Summer? Then head NOW to the Theatre Royal Brighton for a REAL treat. The Scooby Doo stage show is an absolute triumph – such fun for all the family – BIG and LITTLE – but hurry though as the run ends soon!

My daughter screamed with delight when Scooby appeared and every character is so true to the TV programme. Costumes are fab and the acting and choreography suberb. You are left really feeling you had been treated to a highly professional performance – worthy of the best West-End stage!
Even on a hot summer’s afternoon it just took minutes for the audience to be totally engaged, clapping and singing and on their feet. Everyone left smiling I think!Scooby Doo Pro sml

One slight word of caution – the ‘mummies’ are a bit scary when they 1st come on – my 5 year old was a little worried but they have some great comedy moments so any concern soon disappeared.
A further word of caution – I appear to be in love with ‘Shaggy’ but to be fair, that could just be me! Really one not to miss and other mums I know have said just the same!
Go to

PS – if you missed our fab competition on to win Scooby tickets check back soon for more FAB prizes

sooo what’s next?

We are updating our plans for the next Expo and our events programme for 2014! You can visit our website to sign up for the newsletter but in the meantime how about making someone’s year and nominate them for a National What’s On 4 Junior Award! Just see



What Makes A Winning Day Out for a Young Family? We set out to find out!

What makes a winner?!IMG_0031  Suzanne and family from What’s On 4 found out during their visit to ‘Fishers Farm Park’ – winners of the What’s On 4 Junior award ‘Best Family Day Out’ in 2013!

The Farm Park is well signposted and easily found, surrounded by acres of Sussexcountryside and very accessible from surrounding counties Surrey and Hampshire.  We received a very warm welcome at the ticket desk and lots of information on all there was to IMG_0045do plus the special timetabled extra activities. It was then I realised we should have arrived earlier!

Fisher’s Farm Park is just full to bursting with attractions, activities, features and fun. We visited with Ruby (aged 4) and George (aged 8) and they were non-stop all day – horse riding, climbing walls, small animal petting, zip wires (with a handy toddler version!), water-play, paddle boats, trampolines, tractor rides, squirrel scrambles, galleons, mini fairground rides, play areas, massive jumping pillows, mini golf – the list goes on and on. The excitement of the sheepIMG_0038 racing will stay with me for some time! Inside was a fab, spacious soft play area with comfy chairs alongside and a great little café for grown-ups needing a sit down!

We visited on an August Sunday but because there’s so much to do and the park is on such big site we hardly had to queue for any activities – unlike other attractions we had visited previously where you can spend the best part of the day in line! There was great picnic areas and cafes and a really nice shop with lots of ‘pocket IMG_0042money’ prices. One element which really made the visit was the attitude of the many staff who were so friendly, helpful and smiley all day – even when it was raining! I don’t know how they did it!

My over-riding impression of Fishers Farm Park is that it’s an attraction run by a very committed, focussed team. Secondly that it offers excellent value for money – we didn’t manage to do everything and so my son went back less than a week later to celebrate his birthday!  We are really not surprised that they won the award therefore – it’s an excellent place for all the family – just make sure you go for the whole day – you won’t regret it!

You can see more at their website here – and they are building even more attractions soon and we’ll be back at ½ term for the Halloween special!


Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom – Live Show in Brighton


Ruby and Alice had so much fun at Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom live at The Theatre Royal today!

The show is full of fun, music and familiarity – the characters are just as you would imagine with Ben, Holly, Gaston, Nanny Plum (my personal fav) and of course King Elf and all their friends.

The show is just long enough to really feel like value for money without children getting restless – in fact I wasn’t aware of one grumpy or distracted child – testament to the lively and engaging script, fabulous costumes and professional cast. There’s a fab range of nice merchandise too – at reasonable prices.

DSC_9818bOur favourite bits – we can’t decide between discovery of Gaston’s messy cave, the JELLY FLOOD or the tooth fairy scenario – in any case we would really recommend the show! It’s only on ONE MORE DAY in Brighton – 11 July so hurry – there’s still some tickets left! Just go to