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

Music is FUN with Jo Jingles!

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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

Exhibitor Spotlight: Back 2 Balance

My name is Rebecca Nicholas and I am a chiropractor practising at Back 2 Balance chiropractic clinic in Brighton and Hove. I have a very special interest in pregnancy related back pain and paediatrics. Over the last 10 years I have completed many extra courses/ seminars and certifications showing my commitment in helping pregnant women with chiropractic care. Continue reading