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: 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

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 www.sidsloane.org. 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!

Sid_DSD poster small

Music is FUN with Jo Jingles!

A4 FINAL LOGO

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 www.jojingles.com

Saving Tiny Lives – BIBS (Babies in Buscot Support)

BIBS logoBIBS (Babies in Buscot Support) is a registered charity formed in 1987 that supports the neo-natal and Special Care Baby Unit (NICU or SCBU) at The Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.  Buscot ward provides care for babies born too soon or too sick.  Approximately one in ten births within the hospital are of a premature or sick baby.

BIBS fundraise for medical equipment and technology for the unit, giving babies the best possible chance and start in life.  Recently BIBS purchased a new travel incubator to transfer sick or premature babies from the delivery suite to Buscot ward, giving them critical life support care during their most fragile stage.

BIBS work closely with the paediatric and neonatal consultant teams to identify equipment which would make a difference on Buscot Ward.  BIBS are currently trying to raise £29,000 for a much needed state of the art incubator for the unit via their Saving Tiny Lives appeal.

Support services are also a major area of focus.  Parents will be feeling stress and emotions that are probably completely new to them.  BIBS funds an NCT post-natal practitioner to regularly visit Buscot Ward as well as running a weekly drop-in session where parents can meet and talk with others that have been through the NICU and SCBU journey themselves.

BIBS also manage facilities such as the family lounge, an area where parents can get away and make themselves a drink or have something to eat.  They have also recently refurbished a number of areas used by parents such as a quiet room and overnight accommodation where parents can stay if their baby is very ill, preparing to go home or has maybe been transferred far away from home.

BIBS is an official charity partner of BabyExpo Berkshire – to find out more about this amazing charity please click on the links below.

www.justgiving.com/Bibs-incubator

www.bibs.org.uk

RIP Guy Lewis – father to 3, husband to Hanna and Gymboree Brighton Owner and Manager……

Yesterday I had the privilege to join many others to say goodbye to Guy after his tragic and unexpected death earlier this year.

It was a beautiful, emotional service with some very moving tributes and music choices including ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ at the end, which at least made us smile – so very Guy. We were reminded in the service of many things about Guy not least his kindness, his unbounding energy and commitment to everything he did, his love and passion for his family and his continued drive to ‘seize the day’.

Guy and Gymboree at BabyExpo

This morning, like many I expect, I have woken feeling sad and a little numb having witnessed at 1st hand the pain of the parents who have lost their son and the wife and mother whose 3 tiny, beautiful children will grow up without their lovely dad. I can only imagine how they are coping.

I first met Guy about 7 years ago – I was new to the area, a very new mum and a bit of a disaster really. Motherhood had not panned out quite as I had planned – I seemed to spend my days as a sleep deprived zombie, often covered in sick, I was incredibly lonely and felt a failure on all counts. Then I signed up to Gymboree and suddenly I could start to see some light. Guy would greet you with a massive smile or a hug, little ones were enchanted by him and when we first met I couldn’t believe he didn’t yet have children of his own such was his rapport with the whole class. As with many kids’ activities, I met other mums and made friends, we had a purpose to our day (even if it did take 2 hours to get out of the house) and George loved the classes – he came home stimulated yet sleepy (yay) and he loved meeting the other babies and toddlers. Guy’s warmth radiated and the classes were an oasis and we grew alongside Gymboree.

Gymboree at BabyExpo

Yesterday there was a mention of the thousands of parents who had come into contact with Guy over the 8+ years he ran Gymboree and I hope he knew how important he was. I now know many mums felt the same as me in those early stages of baby and toddlerhood and such classes DO become a lifeline.

BabyExpo is hosting the What’s On 4 Junior awards with Konfidence this year – these awards reward and celebrate the very best activity providers and as always I am so moved by some of the testimonials from nominating parents paying tribute to those class leaders who made such a difference to their and their child’s lives and development.

So, if your lives were enhanced by a fabulous activity, community volunteer, party entertainer or class do make sure you nominate them in the What’s On 4 Junior Awards – just click here – there’s a category for everyone from ‘Best pre/post natal’ to ‘Best after school club’ and you could win 2 tickets to join us at BabyExpo for the champagne awards on June 30.

There’s just a month until nominations close so seize the day and do it now ;-)

Guy on the main stage at BabyExpo with Lucy Piper, Jo Tantum and Phil Gallagher from Cbeebies Mister Maker

I am delighted that Guy’s legacy will live on in Brighton with Gymboree continuing to run under the care of widow Hanna and class leader Bobby and you can see them at BabyExpo on June 30 alongside further Headline Sponsors Sing & Sign, Water Babies and Busy Bees. Guy will be there too in his own way I am sure.

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