We’ve all heard of the “terrible twos” but what we hear about less commonly are the ten developmental leaps that precede the massive developmental changes that happen at age two.
There is a book out there called the wonder weeks that talks all about these leaps. It’s such a great read I would really recommend the book, but if you’re not ready to make the purchase you should definitely sign up for free weekly emails from the wonder weeks website.
So what are these ten developmental leaps, and why do they make a difference in parenting? As I said before, there are ten leaps that take place between birth and twenty months of age. They all come roughly around the ages of 5,8,12,19,26,37,46,55,65, and 75 weeks of age. As you can see they start out really close and gradually space apart. The leaps in the beginning are small and don’t last long, maybe a few days.
The leaps towards the end are bigger and can last a few weeks.
Most of Laila’s leaps were almost unnoticeable until she hit about 8 months (Laila hits most of her leaps early but all children will vary as far as having leaps earlier or later).
Suddenly Laila wanted to nurse all the time, she was extra fussy, she hardly slept, and she barely let me put her down. I just couldn’t figure out what was going on with her and I was really ready to tear my hair out. Nothing seemed to soothe her!
I was desperately seeking out some advice when another mother told me it sounded like Laila was going through a developmental leap. “A developmental what?” I asked her. She then explained to me that a developmental leap is like a mental growth spurt. The child is going through huge changes and this causes some different behavior. The biggest thing to understand is that a leap will cause the three Cs, clinginess, crankiness, and crying. In addition to the the three Cs there are other behaviors, such as disrupted sleep, decreased appetite, thumb sucking, throwing themselves on the ground etc. that will come with different leaps.
The wonder weeks explains exactly what new skills your child is acquiring and how you can cope with them and make the leap go a lot smoother. It’s such a help to know that, “this too shall pass” and be able to recognize all of the new things your child is learning.
I was beyond frustrated with Laila and myself before I understood the leaps that she was going through. Now I know how to guide her through them and that she’s not freaking out due to being sick (during one leap I was convinced she had an ear infection or was in some kind if pain that I just couldn’t recognize) or due to me just being a faulty parent.
I equate her developmental leaps to the awkwardness that is middle school for every teenager. Remember being too old and too young at the same time? Wanting to be “cool” but not really knowing what that was? The growth spurts that came in the middle of the year. The crazy appetite and all the hormones? Nobody likes “the awkward stage”, and everybody needs a parent who can be patient and understanding with them as they inevitably go through it.
Our babies go through so many mini stages like this, and we owe it to them to learn the best ways we can help them navigate.
Laila is currently in the last of the ten leaps, and praise God! Being pregnant and hormonal has not helped me in being a patient mama. I’ve had more days of losing my cool and feeling overwhelmingly guilty than I care to admit. This leap has lasted about three weeks so far. I have had to pray for patience and self control over and over.
What I have found works best for me, is to understand that she’s not herself and lower my (probably too high) expectations a little. When she can’t sleep, I scratch her back and tell her stories. When she throws herself on the ground, I pick her up and remind her that it’s going to be ok. When she is clingy with me, I stay with her and assure her that I’m always happy to be with her when she needs me. When she’s cranky with me, I often lose my temper, but then I remember I’m the mom so it’s my job to apologize and model to her how to control frustration.
Raising kids is hard, there are so many emotional roller coasters. Luckily there’s so much good stuff out there in the world of child psychology to help us understand our kids better and find ways to guide them through all the emotional ups and downs and stages of learning they have ahead of them.