Last week I had the pleasure of chatting to Xaviera Plas Plooij, from The Wonder Weeks, who will be speaking live at this weekends The Baby Show at the NEC in Birmingham.
If you’ve not heard of The Wonder Weeks before, where have you been? I first became aware of the app version of The Wonder Weeks last year as Little Mr began showing signs of development. Many of the ladies in the birth group had used it and was recommended to me as a download.
The Wonder Weeks is the culmination of 35 years worth of research conducted by Xaviera’s parents, Dr Frans Plooij and Dr Hetty van de Rijt. In their book, The Wonder Weeks, they explain that babies experience 10 major leaps during the first 20 months of their lives. These leaps are the Wonder Weeks.
Hello Xaviera, thanks for your time. Can you explain how the research was conducted?
The research was carried out by my parents and to be honest they weren’t looking for it. It was open research based on observations of Mums and babies in their natural habitats. Over time we noticed that there were peaks where babies would change. We noticed that there were a lot of similarities in their development resulting in different behaviours than what parents were used to before. The research showed we could predict when parents could expect their babies to behave differently and go through a phase.
What exactly is a leap?
A leap is basically when a baby looks at the whole wide world differently but it is very stressful for babies as they can’t communicate. As their mental development progresses, there’s a change of perception which they have no choice about. It’s similar to adults who have life changing experiences, an illness or accident for example, always makes people’s perceptions of life change.
How can you be sure a baby is going through a leap and not reacting to a situation?
You can’t. You can’t be sure but you will have a good idea that with each leap, your baby’s development will affect his mood, his sleep and his health. Usually babies are more cranky through a leap as they are upset and unsure how to cope with their own development. You can never be sure but chances are they are reacting to a leap plus a change in situation (either a holiday, a parent going back to work, change in normal routine etc)
Was the research based on babies with a parental enforced routine or baby led routine?
All babies need a routine. If you usually feed your baby at 5pm but feed her at 4:45pm or 5:15pm instead is that out of routine? Routines make us who we are, they’re a necessity but all basic routines need to be flexible.
Is there anything parents can do to help babies through a leap?
Parents need to be informed what their babies are going through so they can understand the changes. The book, The Wonder Weeks, gives detailed information on each of the ten major leaps and can be read individually so you can pick up on which ever leap you like. Read the book. The book will help parents understand what is happening to their baby and then parents will be able to show empathy and encourage development to put baby’s mind at ease.
Use the Wonder Weeks App. We developed an App as parents always take their phones with them when they’re out and about. It’s easy to use and a quick reference tool to see why their baby is misbehaving when they’re out of the home.
Why does the Wonder Weeks use babies due date? Does this mean the Wonder Weeks won’t be correct for premature babies?
We use the due date as this is when the baby’s brain is deemed to be full term. In the early days, a week in the life of a baby is huge so if a baby is premature, their brain won’t be mature enough to cope with the leap.
Why should parents buy The Wonder Weeks book and not just use the app?
The book has a lot more detail in it that the App could ever give. The book has different chapters for each leap and there are checklists of things the baby may be able to do. The App is a brief overview but has the chart so parents can quickly look to see if their child is in a leap or not.
Why did The Wonder Weeks stop after the first 10 leaps?
The research stopped at 20 months as this is when we realised that by then parents are able to decipher when their children are going through leaps. As children grow older into teenagers and young adults, there 3 or 4 much bigger leaps such as puberty and further on the ‘mid-life crisis’. The research would be enormous if we studied all of those so it was best to concentrate on the first 20 months when parents need help making informed choices and information on how their children are developing.
Many thanks to Xaviera for her time and for being patient during our interview as I had a 15 month old chatting away in the background!
Xaviera will be at The Baby Show this weekend talking on the main stage about The Wonder Weeks. She’s a really friendly and would love to talk to you. You can find out more about The Wonder Weeks on their website and on Facebook and Twitter too.