The Wonder Weeks blog #5: My Wonder Weeks Journal

Logo_TheWonderWeeks_300dpiYou can be the writer of the best, most special book ever!

How did YOUR baby make the leaps? What did he do? How did he react? What did he like to look at?

 

You do not have to be a writer to become the writer of the Best Journal Ever. You just have to write down the daily ‘normal’ things that you observe your baby doing.

Journal 3dThe NEW Wonder Weeks Journal will help you to get an insight into the little things that make a big impact.  Writing and scrapbooking in this journal is fun PLUS the questions make you much more aware of the brainy things your clever, smart, fabulous baby is doing.

My Journal_1Collect and create the best of each leap.  Be as creative as you want!  Stick all your special memorabilia in the journal.  It might be a receipt of the latte you drank at that special little café where the waiters always compliment your baby, the label of the bear that was interesting to your baby this leap, or a lipstick kiss of grandma who, just like with every leap, kissed your baby all over.  It’s these little memories that make a big difference later on!

‘My Wonder Weeks Journal’ is based on the worldwide bestseller ‘The Wonder Weeks explaining the perceptual world and the leaps babies make from 0-20 months.  Based on extensive research at top Universities.

My Wonder Weeks Journal . . . For all those magical leaps

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

www.thewonderweeks.com

 

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!

www.thewonderweeks.com

The Wonder Weeks Blog #3: One of the reasons mothers stop breastfeeding?

Logo_TheWonderWeeks_300dpiIt’s not your imagination– all babies go through a difficult period around the same age. Research by Dr. Frans Plooij Ph.D. and Dr. Hetty van de Rijt Ph.D., has shown that babies make 10 major, predictable, age-linked changes – or leaps – during the first 20 months of their lives taking place around weeks 5, 8, 12, 19, 26, 37, 46, 55, 64 and 75.  During this time, they will learn more than in any other time.  With each leap comes a drastic change in your baby’s mental development, which not only affects his mood, his health, sleeping patterns and the “three C’s” (crying, clinging and crankiness) but also… baby’s drinking and comfort seeking habits.  Unfortunately these Wonder Weeks are often a reason for mums who do not know about these wonder weeks, to stop breast-feeding their child.

With every new wonder week a baby gets a totally new perception of the world.  Every Wonder Week is like waking up on a strange planet.  A baby did not ask for this, did not see it coming, but suddenly this whole new world was there.  What would you do?  You would retreat to a well-known and safe place.  For a baby that is mum.  How would you do that?  By literally clinging to your mum.  Being one with her, holding on tight and the best way to do that would be via literally sucking yourself to your mum.  This is where breast-feeding and Wonder Weeks meet.  Whilst on the one hand Wonder Weeks are in fact something good and signal progress in development, on the other hand, when the Wonder Weeks are misunderstood, they are often the reason mums give up breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding“My daughter was crying so much that I was afraid something was terribly wrong.  She wanted to breastfeed constantly.  I took her to see the paediatrician, but he couldn’t find anything wrong with her.  He said she just needed to get used to my milk and that many infants went through a similar crying phase at 5 weeks.  I thought that was a strange thing to say, because she hadn’t had any problems with my milk until then.  Her cousin, who was the same age, kept crying, too, but he was being bottle-fed.  When I told the doctor that, he pretended he hadn’t heard, I didn’t push the subject though . I found out about wonder weeks later on, but I keep on wondering why nobody told me about these wonder weeks earlier.  ” Julitte’s mum, 5th week

Wonder Weeks and the milk doubting mums:

As the baby gets more Clingy, Cries more and is more Cranky during a wonder week, many mothers start doubting themselves.  Are they doing something wrong?  If a baby wants to drink so often, does this mean they do not have enough milk?  Or is their milk not good enough?  Mums who know their baby is in a wonder week, don’t doubt themselves or their milk.

“Around the third wonder week my daughter suddenly started nursing less.  After 5 minutes, she would start playing around with my nipple.  After that had gone on for two weeks, I decided to start supplementing my milk with formula, but she wouldn’t have any of that either.  This phase lasted 4 weeks.  During that time I worried she would suffer from some kind of nutrition deficiency, especially when I saw my milk supply starting to diminish.  But now she is drinking like she used to again, and my milk supply is as plentiful as ever.  Now I know this is normal behavior during a wonder week. I never doubted my milk again since I know when these wonder weeks are.” Hannah’s mum, 19th week.

Wonder Weeks and the exhausted mums:

Even the mums not doubting their milk sometimes give up breastfeeding.  Simply because the impact of the leap on the behavior of their child is wearing them out.  The mums that know about Wonder Weeks tend to be less exhausted as they know what is happening and that Wonder Weeks are actually a good thing.

Wonder Weeks and the mum of a six month old:

One of the most difficult leaps is the one of relationships, around six months after due date.  The exact same time breast milk alone is not enough anymore and most parents start to give solid food as well.  Mum is exhausted from the leap, doesn’t sleep or sleeps very poorly, while at the same time her child needs food.  Just days after giving the first ‘meals’, the baby is in a much better mood.  Often mums explain this whole sequence of events wrongly and seem to think their child was in need of other milk than theirs.  While in fact the child just went through another leap and finished the leap when he turned six months.

Wonder Weeks and nipple cracks or abrasions:

Pain is, logically, one of the reasons mums want to stop feeding their child.  When a child is in a Wonder Week he wants to drink many times more often than is normally the case. As this is one of the only times a baby is quiet, a mum doesn’t really pay as much attention to the feeding process as she normally would and this can often result in the wrong feeding positions resulting in discomfort for mum.

Making parents aware of Wonder Weeks will enable parents to understand their baby’s behavior much better and will help many mums to continue feeding their child and to make sure these Wonder Weeks are not a reason to give up.

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

www.thewonderweeks.com

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 www.thewonderweeks.com

The Wonder Weeks: How Your Baby’s Brain Grows

Logo_TheWonderWeeks_300dpiNature is a remarkable thing.  I am sure, as new parents, you have already experienced this. But the innate abilities babies are born with never stops amazing me.

When a baby is born it is perfectly capable of sensing “what”, for example hot, cold, loud and bright, and “how much”.  A baby placed on its mother’s tummy will root around, searching for more warmth until it finds the hottest spot – the nipple.  It may take the better part of an hour but the test has been done!

The “how much” perception may even precede birth; we call it “intensity”.  The “what kind” perceptions comes a little later — we call them “sensations”.

Sometimes I am asked what I mean when we say “mental development” and “leaps in mental development” when it comes to describing what’s happening inside your baby’s head.  From a scientific perspective we mean the natural growth of the brain and entire nervous system, from a few neurons making connections in the embryo all the way to the fully functioning brain and nervous system of an adult.  Just like the various physical parts of the body, the brain grows, adds new functionality and matures.  As it does, in stages, on nature’s schedule, the cranium grows, neurons are added and successively higher perceptual functions emerge.

This is what is happening with every leap… more functionality, more skills to learn and master.

We know with indisputable certainty that all babies, no matter what, make 10 major, predictable, age-linked changes – or leaps – during their first 20 months of life.  With each leap comes a drastic change in your baby’s mental development but this development can also manifest itself as poor sleep, bad appetite, crying, clinging and crankiness.  It is hard on your baby and exhausting and frustrating for mum and dad.

Why?  Well, each leap sets the stage for the subsequent development of skills.  Suddenly your baby can think, feel, notice and understand what is happening around him in a new way.  These new, higher levels of perception begin to emerge one after the other in rapid-fire and, amazing as this is, it is also scary for the baby.  These cognitive changes can influence what the baby can do and how he behaves. That is why, before he is comfortable exploring his new abilities, a baby often cries more, is more clingy and crankier.

image_How_Your_Baby_Brain_Grows[1]You see, each stage or period of mental development described here is accompanied by an initial period of confusion as neural connections in the brain are rearranged.  To your baby, this is bewildering.  He’s taken aback — everything has changed overnight.  It is as if he has woken up on a strange planet.  In each case your baby seeks reassurance, which means “back to mama”.  Your baby will cling, cry and get cranky.  The clingy periods alert and worry you as parents, resulting in more intensive care giving and interaction with your baby.  This facilitates the new learning and helps your baby to make the leap into the new world.

When parents understand, even before these periods occur, what each of these developments mean for a baby’s understanding of the world around him and how he uses this understanding to develop the new skills he needs at each stage of his development, they can use this understanding of their baby’s developmental leaps to help him through these often confusing times in his very new life.  They will be able to understand better the way their baby is thinking and why he acts as he does at certain times. They will be able to give the right kind of help, when needed, and the right kind of environment to help him make the most of every leap in his development.

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

More information: www.thewonderweeks.com

BabyExpo Updates!

BabyExpo – The South Coast’s Biggest and Brightest BabyShow and Family Day will return to Brighton on Sunday 30 June at Brighton Racecourse and Conference Centre with Headline Sponsors Sing & Sign, Gymboree and  Busy Bees Childcare and very special guest Humphrey from Humphrey’s Corner!  Baby-planners, parents-to-be and young families from throughout the Region and beyond can look forward to an informative and fun-filled day with expert pregnancy and parenting advice, a fabulous entertainment line-up, 100’s of fantastic show deals and promotions, £1000’s of baby show prizes, face painters, play-zones, petting zoos and much more. The event will also host the National What’s On 4 Junior Awards with Konfidence and What’s On 4 Me LIVE!  Not to be missed will be the mumandworking flexible working zone with The Mumpreneurs Networking Club, Innovation Alley, The Pregnant In Brighton Pavilion and The Natural Parenting Zone.
Media partners include ABC Magazine and kids4media.com and the event will support Chestnut Tree House Children’s Hospice and National Childbirth Trust. For more see www.babyexpobabyshow.co.uk

Images courtesy of the lovely guys at two-d studios – www.remembernow.co.uk

What we got up to in half term!

Here at WO4 HQ we enjoyed some great family days out this ½ term!

See below for our trip to Brighton Pier but first our long awaited trip to LEGOLAND Windsor……..

LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort has over 55 interactive rides and attractions and costs £33 for an adult ticket if you buy online.  For more see the website www.legoland.co.uk.

The excitement in the car was almost overwhelming as we approached to be welcomed by giant Lego people. It was a cold day so we had big coats and we were hopeful (as it was an inset day for us but not the surrounding counties) we would avoid too many queues.

The staff are great, very welcoming and friendly and we were through verLego Star Warsy quickly.  The views are lovely as you enter but there wasn’t time to admire Windsor castle as Lego Star Wars was upon us. We had great fun within with great characters, models and sound effects and George’s day was already made. We then walked down to the fabulous Viking’s River Splash experience which was really fun and as it was so cold, I was very relieved that we didn’t get wet!

Then we headed to the famous Dragon ride, via a great adventure playground – Pirate’s Training Camp!  At Dragon we queued for a while, it was a very popular ride and the cold did start to bite. I saw repeat visitors sensibly dressed in hats, gloves and scarves and with supplies to keep them going but the queue moved fairly fast and we were mostly inside. One problem on this ride was that I couldn’t travel with both children and it wLEGOLAND Dragonas suggested I left my 4 yr. old with staff and then went on with her afterwards. She would have freaked out watching George and I disappearing into the tunnel so if you are visiting with fewer adults than small children that’s worth checking 1st. We would have been gutted after such a long wait to have had to walk away but luckily we paired up with a couple and a lone child. The ride is fantastic – so so worth it – we could have spent all day on it.

Then we queued a long time for another little ride, the rain started to come down and here not having the Q-bot was irritating. I had wanted to experience the day without spending extra to ‘Queue Jump’ – especially as we weren’t there on a very busy day. The kids found the people ‘pushing in’ frustrating and annoying and didn’t really understand however. Then hunger really set in so we ended up queuing again in the rain for hot dogs and then eating them in the rain and the day did start to get a little challenging for my youngest.

Fuller tummies helped though and we set off again to MiniLand which was lovely. By early afternoon however we were starting to get cold and tired but there so much we hadn’t visited, so much to explore. Majority rule won and we headed back to the car.  I was probably most disappointed to be leaving but at least we had a great excuse to come back! There is of course a valid reason why LegoLand is not open in the winter but interestingly as the weather drove people away, those who were prepared, were loving the shorter queues and dwindling crowds.

In summary it’s a fantastic family day out. My tops tips would be

  • Take snacks and provisions – to alleviate boredom in queues and meaning you don’t have to waste valuable ride time foraging!
  • Dress suitably – if it’s a cold day wear as many clothes as you can and don’t forget gloves
  • Do get there as early as you can – there’s so much to do in one day
  • Do expect to queue, as with all similar attractions and even with the Q Bot I would imagine on a busy day there’ll be waiting times
  • Do plan your visit. Don’t waste time trying to decide where to head for 1st plan when you are there or having to back-track to see attractions you missed. LEGOLAND is very large – make the most of the day by planning in advance and talking to kids about what they want do to before they get too overexcited to make any sense!
  • And finally Enjoy! We can’t wait to go back!

Brighton Pier

The iconic Brighton Pier cannot be missed as you drive along the sea front with its attractions, lighBrighton Pierts, sounds and smells. I had been going since I was a child and looking forward to taking my children back. Parking on the sea front is now incredibly expensive so if you can park in town and walk down or use public transport. Buses run along the King’s road all the time.

The Pier offers a lovely experience at no cost if you are a stronger parent than I (!) You can walk right to the end, use the deck chairs for free and enjoy a picnic overlooking the beautiful sea, the city, Brighton Marina and new attraction, The Brighton Wheel! With the cry of the seagulls and the smell of chips, donuts and candy floss along with the ‘holiday’ atmosphere it was really enjoyable. Some of the rides were closed due to the time of year unfortunately but we still enjoyed the Helter Skelter and Carousel which both offer good value for money and were great fun although I think I was more scared than the kids on the Helter Skelter!

The arcades offer a noisy, bright and very stimulating and where we lost of 2ps and 10ps in the machines but it was all good fun.  A really lovely way to while away a gloomy October weekend.

For more on the Pier see here – www.brightonpier.co.uk

 

Birth to Toddler: what really lasts

Having a baby changes everything, not least of which is your house.  Their ‘stuff’ takes over every room, from the cots and moses baskets to the baby bath and of course the toys are everywhere.  But what really stands the test of time?  Many of Dylan’s things are packed away after lasting only a few short weeks and others are still in use now, 13 months down the line.
One thing that you may not expect to be a keeper is the baby bath.  Sure, he wasn’t in there for long as a bath as we found it more comfortable to lie him on the bottom of the main bath  after a while, but come summer it is invaluable as an outside water play area.  Dylan loved sitting outside splashing and it meant not needing to invest in a paddling pool yet.  Sitting him in there for summer baths also saved our bathroom carpet as he loves nothing more than splashing away.
I love reading and wanted to encourage Dylan with his speech and so we have read to him right from the very beginning.  I bought story books aimed at slightly older children as they kept me more entertained and he didn’t have a clue what I was on about anyway.  He is loving his board books now but I hope it won’t be long until we can sit down together and read the story books again, pointing at the pictures and practising the words.  Definitely an investment worth making.
My Ergo carrier is definitely a birth to toddler product.  A lovely ‘heart to heart’ insert makes it suitable for a newborn and there is nothing nicer than feeling your little baby cuddled up against you.  As the baby grows the insert comes out and toddler years mean wearing on your back.  Dylan loves being worn and the carrier is perfect for places like the zoo as we are on the same level and he can see and chat to me about everything.  Toddlers can be worn until they are at least 3 in this design and the carrier is such great quality that you known it will last.  There are some other great carriers like the Boba 3G
Before we had a baby I knew I wanted one of those lovely rocker chairs.  The ones with padded seats and a footstall – I mean how would I possibly breastfeed without one?  I am very glad we did invest in a nursing chair as I love it.  I used to fall asleep feeding Dylan in bed when we were still up several times a night and getting into the chair helped keep me awake and also comfortable.  It has had so much use rocking the baby to sleep and we still use it now for story time.  The chairs are spacious, comfortable and with a rocking footstall you can’t go wrong! I think it is definitely a product that will last us a few more good years as it is nice to have somewhere to snuggle up and cuddle in the nursery.
So there are a few of our lasting products, and they are all things that will be perfect for the new baby when he or she comes along next year.  Great investments and they don’t take up too much space!

Babywearing – why it’s great for your child & you

This week’s exhibitor blogs comes from The School of Babywearing who will be on the Juno Magazine at Baby Expo Milton Keynes.

Handsfree, the joy of baby wearing

The School of Babywearing is a social enterprise set up to provide information to parents about the use & benefits of slings & baby carriers. We offer accredited Babywearing Peer Support & Babywearing Consultancy training and support sling groups, meets and libraries across the UK.

Baby slings are thought to have been one of the first ever inventions – how else could we have carried our babies around with us and got on with the work we had to do? Today we have lots of other options for placing our babies into pushchairs, car seats and other devices but none offer the warmth of human touch, the gentle stimulation to of the baby’s balance system that comes from being walked around and the reassurance of knowing their parent is right there, making those comforting noises that the baby was used to before they were born.

Today, around the world, babies are carried by their parents and brothers and sisters. In the UK, we often lay our babies down in pushchairs or place them in car seats, swing seats or other devices. But we may notice that they seem happiest when held in our arms.Slings and baby carriers offer a way for parents to be hands-free while holding their babies in a natural position.

The world from a different view

Some of the benefits for parents of ‘babywearing’ (using a soft sling or baby carrier to hold your baby against your body in a natural position) are that they can pick up easily on their baby’s cues and respond quickly to their needs. Breastfeeding Mums will find that having baby close will boost their milk supply (and Dads of breastfeeding babies can use a sling to give Mum a break once in a while). Babywearing builds up your core strength and helps you gently tone your body after birth.

Babies who are worn upright tend to be more settled and to sleep for longer. When they are awake, they may be calm and quiet for longer periods. Premature babies gain weight faster when they are carried by their parents and have better temperature regulation. Babywearing can help with babies who have reflux or colic, as digestion is improved when the baby is kept upright. And being held in a sling counts as tummy time as the baby uses their muscles to make small movements to hold themself in position and this helps neck and chest strength. Babies today are at risk of developing flat head syndrome if they keep their heads in one position in a cot or car seat. Time in a sling can help prevent or alleviate this.

There are many different types of sling and baby carriers, with some suitable for use with premature babies and others for chunky toddlers,pre-schoolers and older children. To find the right one for you, attending a local sling meet or borrowing a sling from a sling library can be really helpful, as can an appointment with a Babywearing Consultant who can give you one-to-one advice about what’s right for you. To find your local Babywearing expert, visit www.schoolofbabywearing.com, e-mail: enquiries@schoolofbabywearing.com or call 0300 800 1471. Or see us on the JUNO magazine community stand at babyExpo!