Wonder weeks

Having a newborn can be a joyful but overwhelming experience, especially when it comes to understanding their development. It’s common for parents to wonder why their baby is crying, sleeping less, or not eating as much as usual. One way to better understand your baby’s development is by using the concept of “Wonder Weeks.” As a new parent, you may have heard of the term “wonder weeks” and wondered what it meant.

Wonder weeks refer to specific periods of development in a baby’s life when they experience significant growth and developmental milestones. These periods can be challenging for both babies and parents, but understanding them can help parents support their child’s development and make the process a little easier.

In this blog, we’ll explore what Wonder Weeks are and how they can help you understand your baby’s development.

What are Wonder Weeks?

Wonder weeks are based on the idea of “regression before progression.” This means that before a baby can make a developmental leap, they may experience a period of regression in their behaviour.

Wonder weeks is a concept developed by Dutch researchers Frans Plooij and Hetty van de Rijt, who studied infant development for over 35 years. They observed that babies go through predictable developmental leaps in their first 20 months of life. These leaps are periods of rapid cognitive, motor, and emotional development. These periods typically occur at around 5, 8, 12, 19, 26, 37, 46, and 55 weeks of age.

These developmental leaps can be difficult for babies as they adjust to new skills and abilities. During these leaps, babies may be fussy, clingy, have trouble sleeping or feeding, and may cry more often. However, these periods of fussiness are normal and are signs that your baby is developing as expected. It usually lasts for a few days to a few weeks, and then things settle down again.

According to their research, these developmental leaps occur at roughly the same time for all babies, regardless of their cultural or ethnic background.

What happens during wonder weeks?

During wonder weeks, a baby’s brain is going through a major developmental leap. They are learning new skills, making new connections in their brain, and processing new information. Some common developmental milestones that occur during wonder weeks include:

  • Increased awareness of the world: During wonder weeks, babies become more aware of their surroundings and start to take notice of things they haven’t noticed before.
  • Improved motor skills: Babies may start to crawl, pull themselves up, or take their first steps during wonder weeks.
  • Language development: Babies may start to babble, say their first words, or understand more complex language during wonder weeks.
  • Emotional development: Babies may become more attached to their caregivers and show more empathy towards others during wonder weeks.

When Do Wonder Weeks Occur?

Wonder weeks occur at specific intervals during a baby’s first 20 months of life. The timing of these developmental leaps is based on your baby’s due date, rather than their actual birth date. This is because babies who are born prematurely may experience wonder weeks at slightly different ages than babies who are born at full term.

The following are the approximate ages at which wonder weeks occur:

Week 5: This is the first wonder week and marks a significant shift in your baby’s sensory perception. During this time, your baby may be more alert and responsive to their surroundings.

  • Week 8: During this wonder week, your baby may start to develop new motor skills, such as rolling over or sitting up.
  • Week 12: This wonder week is associated with a leap in your baby’s ability to recognize patterns and familiar faces.
  • Week 19: During this wonder week, your baby may begin to show an interest in cause-and-effect relationships, such as dropping objects to see what happens.
  • Week 26: This wonder week is marked by a significant leap in your baby’s cognitive development, including their ability to understand complex concepts.
  • Week 37: The final wonder week is associated with a leap in your baby’s language development, including their ability to understand and use words.

How Can You Support Your Baby During Wonder Weeks?

As a parent, there are several things you can do to support your baby during wonder weeks. Here are some tips to help you through these developmental leaps: 

  • Be patient: During wonder weeks, your baby may be fussier and more irritable than usual. This is normal and is a sign that they are going through a period of significant change and growth. Try to be patient and understanding during this time.
  • Offer comfort: Your baby may need extra comfort and attention during wonder weeks. Offer plenty of cuddles, soothing words, and reassurance.
  • Provide stimulation: Wonder weeks are a time when your baby is developing new skills and abilities. Offer plenty of age-appropriate toys, books, and activities to help stimulate their development.
  • Stick to a routine: Maintaining a consistent routine can help your baby feel more secure and comfortable during wonder weeks. Stick to regular meal times, nap times, and bedtimes as much as possible.
  • Take care of yourself: Remember to take care of yourself during wonder weeks, too. Get plenty of rest, eat well, and take breaks when you need them.

Wonder weeks are an exciting and challenging time in your baby’s development. By understanding what they are, when they occur, and how to best handle this period will in effect make it much more bareable.

*The Wonder Weeks app is a popular tool that helps parents track their baby’s developmental leaps. The app provides information on what to expect during each leap, how to support your baby, and tips for soothing fussy babies. *