Mental Leaps - Follow your baby's development

Developing in 10 leaps

As a new parent, it can be difficult to cope when you can't comfort your baby and your baby is sad. At times the crying may be more intense than you are used to, and in many ways, it can be difficult to recognise your baby's moods in general. The reason for the changes in your baby's mood may be the mental developmental leaps that all babies go through.

Where does the theory come from?

Dutch researchers Hetty Van de Rijt and Franz Plooij are behind the concept. Over a period of 25 years, the two researchers studied babies, children, and parents. They came to the conclusion that the intensified crying at times is due to what
is known as a mental leap. They have found that these developmental leaps can be predicted for all children. You can read much more about their research and the individual mental leaps in the book "Wonderful Weeks".

What is a mental leap?

Usually, a mental leap lasts between one and five weeks. However, this can vary greatly. There are 10 leaps that all children go through between the ages of 5 weeks and around 18 months.

Children are different, and therefore the different things your baby goes through in the leaps can also be different. However, there are some similarities that we will focus on here.

During the transition, your baby is developing, learning to look at the world in a new way
and gaining new skills. Because of these changes, you may also experience a difficult period of crying more and sleeping less during the transition.

An important rule of thumb to remember when talking about the leaps is that the weeks are not based on the date of birth, but on the due date, and therefore the weeks should be calculated from this date.

The individual leaps

Each leap is its own phase. We have categorised the 10 different leaps below and have also added weekly numbers to make it easier for you to follow along.

Leap 1 - 5 weeks

In this leap, when your baby is 5 weeks old, the senses will develop. Among other things, your baby will start to see colours and listen to their surroundings. All this can be very overwhelming for your baby, which is why you often see a fussier
baby. Something that can help your baby can be rocking movements. A baby hammock can be an advantage here.

This leap lasts about 2 weeks.

Leap 2 - 8 weeks

This is when your baby starts to see and notice patterns and shapes. They also start to feel their own body. All of this can feel like a big change and your baby will want to be close to you as they seek close contact and extra reassurance.

This leap lasts from a few days to 2 weeks.

Leap 3 - 12 weeks

During this leap, your baby starts to develop a new sense of their surroundings and space. Therefore, they can now tell the difference between when you are at home and when you are out and about. They also start to turn their head and pay more attention to what's happening around them. This means that your child will start to want to investigate what is happening around them. This can be very overwhelming. Therefore, your baby will seek close contact and want to experience their surroundings while being close to mum or dad. 

This leap is a quick one, lasting only a few days for many.

Leap 4 - 19 weeks

At this leap, your baby will start reaching out for things and begin to take them in their hand, shake them and put them in their mouth. Your baby will also start to have more strength in their body, which means they can use their body in new ways.

This transition can take as long as 4-5 weeks. From this leap onwards, developmental leaps start to last longer.

Leap 5 - 26 weeks

During this leap, your child becomes more aware and realises that the world is a big place. However, this can be a scary thing to realise when you are small. Therefore, it can be a scary and unsafe period for your child, and you may find that your
child is very fussy. Your child will also begin to recognise distance, both from you as parents, but also between different things in your home, such as toys.

This leap lasts from one week to five weeks.

Leap 6 - 37 weeks

Here your child starts to become methodical and explore the world in this way, for example by looking at their toys in a new way and analysing them. For example, they may start to recognise things, such as animals. In addition, they can also
start to recognise differences between things. At the same time, language is also developing rapidly.

 This leap lasts from three to six weeks.

Leap 7 - 46 weeks

In this leap, your baby starts to put things together, trying again and again to put them together in the right way and in the right order. Here your child also starts to have a will of their own, and they use and show it. As a result, you may experience a different side of your child than you were used to.

This leap lasts between three and seven weeks.

Leap 8 - 55 weeks

This is when your child begins to communicate through their actions. Generally, at this age, when your child is around one year old, they start to be able to do more things for themselves. However, often when communicating through actions, you
as parents can easily misunderstand your children in these situations, as your children can't explain themselves with words yet. This is something that can cause friction and frustration for your child. In this leap, many children also say their first words, and the child also starts to try to stand up, and many take their first steps. All these changes require extra reassurance from mum and dad to the baby.

This leap lasts between three and six weeks.

Leap 9 - 64 weeks

In this leap, your baby starts to imitate what you as parents do, but without being able to do it like you. Therefore, there won't be as much playing with toys as you might be used to, because imitating you is more exciting during this period.

This leap lasts about 5 weeks and takes place from 60-64 weeks of age.

Leap 10 - 75 weeks

This is when your baby starts to understand systems. That is, they learn to use their ingenuity, see your reaction to what they've done, and learn what's right and wrong. During this leap, your child also starts to show affection.

This leap lasts for about 5 weeks and takes place from 70-75 weeks of age.

Does it apply to all babies?

No. The experience of the leap differs from child to child, and therefore it may differ from what is described here. However, this is a general guide to how your child develops at the start of their life. This will also help you to better understand when your child suddenly behaves differently and can't sleep, for example.

What can you do when your child is in a leap?

Every child is different, and it is important to remember that the different reactions are based on a specific development. What works for one child may not necessarily work for another. However, the most important thing is to give your child a lot
of love and care to help them through the leap.