Micro Blog: Child’s Brain

Aviana seems to be growing into her skin a lot more.  Now that she is walking, running and galloping (her new skill this week!), she seems pretty content with her new found skills.  She spent a lot of her growing life constantly frustrated that she can’t physically do stuff she mentally wanted to do.  It felt like her brain was always two steps ahead of her body developmentally.  We have also ran out of ‘wonder weeks’.  Her final leap was actually earlier than expected, a couple of weeks early than the book suggested, but this was becoming the trend with the last few leaps.  Now that we have run out of leaps, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t ‘leap’ in her brain development anymore, it’s just that it’s less predictable.  The wonder weeks app has been a wonderful resource and comfort.  I highly recommend it to new parents.

I am now reading a new book called ‘Welcome to your child’s brain’ which is sort of an advance on the wonder weeks, and explains a child’s brain development in a whole lot more detail.  Like the wonder weeks, it provides guidance on when and how a kid’s brain develops, but towards teenage college years.  Everything from sight, smell, reading, mathematics, art, behavior, motor skills and emotions.  It’s thoroughly fascinating to learn about how, when and why children do certain things and its normalcy.  Read it.  You won’t regret learning about why your child does certain things and how to deal with them.

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She moves and leaps

Technically Aviana doesn’t  crawl, she scoots on her bum and drags her right leg. It’s kind of Gollum like and a little creepy…if I dressed her up in some weird creepy baby Halloween costume, she would terrify many people with her scooting crawl.  When she was learning to get from A to B she was incredibly frustrated as she developed this skill, but as soon as she figured it out, all was right with the world. I sense this period of frustration happened again, but this time with walking.

Aviana has been ‘walking’ with our assistance for quite some time.  Even the doctor thought she would be walking within weeks of when we saw her at the 9 month wellness visit.  But no, and I could see that Aviana was very frustrated by this.

Another odd thing happened.  Aviana turned into a grumpy/touchy baby with head banging and hair pulling being her signature move.  I wondered what had happened to my sweet girl, who seemed to turn into the demon toddler from hell. So I thought I should check my wonder weeks app and low and behold, she started her 8th leap. It was the exact day her grumpiness started that the leap started.

The wonder weeks app has proven to be very accurate in its timings over the past year. This particular leap is the ‘world of programs’ leap. The signs of this leap includes temper tantrums. I thought that babies didn’t have temper tantrums much later into toddlerhood, but I was so wrong!

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Really, we think Aviana can walk and that she hasn’t sussed out that it’s actually quicker to get places by walking. We think this because she can walk with us holding just one hand (barely a finger even). But on my Birthday (a few days ago), at 53 weeks old she decided to walk on her own! She was very pleased with herself! But was so excited she kept falling over. Which frustrated her more.  So I think the mental leap and her walking development turned her into a very touch baby.  Technically we have 18 days left of this leap, but with her figuring out how to walk she became noticeably a little less grumpy. With the wonder leaps, I tend to find that she is crankiest at the beginning and end of the leap, but not always constantly for the whole leap.

I am really excited about this leap, I can see her doing some of it already in just the past week.  Aviana has been very observant of us making breakfast, dinner and knows the correct order of putting the toys away in the bath just before she gets out. The signs are all there of her working through this leap.  The wonder weeks has been a really fascinating app to help us through some of her crankier stages in life.

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The wonder weeks: Leap 2 Patterns

At around eight weeks past due date Aviana was due her second mental leap. This leap enables her to understand patterns better. Not just visual patterns, but patterns across all the senses. Here is what she should be able to do after this leap:

  • hold her head up much better than before
  • turns her head towards sounds
  • Likes to shift her weight forward while sitting on my lap
  • Flaps her hands against a toy (forerunner of grasping)
  • Feels toys without trying to grasp them
  • Discovers and observes parts of her body
  • Looks at patterns (i.e. abstract paintings or a flickering candle)
  • Makes short, explosive sounds (effort grunts) with her voice with the help of glottal stops

All of this was evident after her leap. It was less obvious than the first leap to identify when she was going through it. This is what we experienced:

  • She wanted to be entertained a lot more often. 
  • The wonder weeks book says that she would want to be breastfed all day long but doesn’t really drink. But we didn’t really experience that – although her feeds did take longer on average
  • She craved more physical contact and she cried more easily. This was actually only evident and noticeable after her leap because at the time it just seemed normal. It was only after the leap she was a lot happier. It was a realization of Oh my baby doesn’t cry all the time after all! 

The period of time that this leap could last for was a lot longer than the first. Plus it got all mixed in with her 2 month vaccinations so it was hard to tell what was what.

The amazing thing is it is obvious afterwards now that she went through the leap. Of course babies change all the time, so it was only on looking back it was  clear what she was going through. The average time spent on a nursing session really jumped up…you can see below here, the stats say it all!

There is a two week ‘break’ between leap 2 and 3 l, Chris and grandad got to experience most of those good days last week when I was at work! I think she may have just now entered her 3rd leap a couple of days earlier, either that or it’s a growth spurt. She is doing some crazy sleeping. Yikes. More to come on leap 3 soon!

Average nursing session length went suddenly

The wonder weeks: Leap 1 changing sensations

Apparently all babies go through the same changes in mental development at the same time – and it is based on dates from conception and not dates from birth. These mental developments are called ‘leaps’. According to the book – The wonder weeks, a leap is a sudden change that brings along a new type of perception.  In the first year of a baby’s life there are eight new types of perceptions and is due to a sudden change in the brain, giving a new learning opportunity.

A leap has two phases: the first is the difficult period which can be noticed by more crying, abnormally clingy and cranky.  The second phase is when the baby masters a new skill or uses old skills in different ways – they will have new interests and be more independent.

The first leap is in week 5.  This leap is all about Aviana’s change in sensations, i.e. what she hears, sees, feels, smells and tastes.  Some of the changes in these sensations she will like and some she won’t.  But we can’t read her mind and she can’t talk so we don’t really know what she thinks about these changes.

On Tuesday, I think she went through this leap (1 day earlier than the book predicts).  She was yelling, crying, screaming – not like the pain cries from her reflux.  The cries were different.  Nothing would console her, she just wanted to be held close, but not too close, she wouldn’t even go in the sling/wrap!  She did this for almost 12 hours straight, I was exhausted mentally and physically, so much so I had to call Chris to come home early from work to help me out.  I didn’t know it in that moment that this was the leap, even though I knew it was coming .  I felt everything that the book told me I would feel…

Insecure and not confident in my parenting abilities.  Nothing I could do would stop her from crying.  I’m an intelligent, sensible and relatively knowledgeable woman.  Why could I not figure this out?

Concern.  I took Aviana’s temperature several times because I worried she might be ill and I was ignoring the signs.  I worried I wasn’t providing her with enough breast milk because she would scream at my breast and she wanted to feed almost every hour.

As soon as she finally slept solidly after all that fuss, I realised where she had been – in that leap.  The book was right.  The book tells me I should look out for how my baby has changed as a result of this leap.  This is what I have noticed in her – she will look at things longer and more often, she actually seems like she listens to me especially, my terrible singing, she is more aware of being touched, smiles more than she did before, gurgles (she has only done this just a couple of times), stays awake longer and is more alert.  Other things that the book says I can expect to see differently after this leap is her expressing her likes or dislikes more often (although we have noticed she does not like a wet diaper anymore), expresses anticipation more often, is more aware of different smells.  Apparently we will also see some physical changes in that she will vomit less, burp less, cry real tears (she was doing this already), startle and tremble less often and choke less!

Interestingly, when I saw the pediatrician today to discuss her reflux and change in medication she said that Aviana is already doing things she wouldn’t expect to see until 3 months old, such as coo-ing.  She said that Aviana will probably “want to go to the zoo very soon”, i.e. want and need more intellectual stimulation so she doesn’t get bored!

Mental leaps – I believe in them!  The next leap is  is due in week 8-9 (post due date, not birth date) This leap will allow her to experience and recognise patterns.  The signals for this leap are slightly different to the first leap, although crying and crankiness seems to be common amongst all leaps.

So mums and dads, if you find your baby crying unusually around week 5 post due date, the chances are your baby is going through a mental leap and it is not a reflection of your parenting abilities!  Knowing this helped me psychologically get over her almost inconsolable cries!!!  If you want to know more, I suggest downloading the wonder weeks app or buy the book.  Fascinating stuff.