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

Introducing our BabyExpo Blogger!

Hannah Jeeves blogs over at Make, Do and Push! She is relatively new to blogging, having started Make, Do and Push! in September 2012, as a way to document her journey into the wilderness of Motherhood.

 

As well as a new blogger, Hannah is a new Mummy to a beautiful baby girl born in December 2012. She is a local mum (Lewes) so is very much love local in her own life. BabyExpo Brighton will see her sharing her must visit places as well as seeing what our exhibitors have to offer.

Hannah has a degree in English Literature and Drama from the University of East Anglia, and says that writing as her biggest passion. Her other interests include musical theatre, photography, crafting and gin.

Make, Do and Push! has been shortlisted in the Fresh Voice category at this years BritMums BiB (Brilliance in Blogging) Awards; voting closes on Sunday 12th May 2013, but if you’d like to help Hannah make it into the finals please vote here.

We are thrilled to have Hannah as our VIP BabyExpo Brighton blogger and can’t wait to read her tips, reviews and just general chit chat about motherhood!

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.