If you are a new parent you may have recently learnt – or are perhaps even be in the middle of – a “wonder week”.
Experiencing and getting through your baby’s first, and then subsequent, development leaps can be tough.
A newborn is not easy at the best of times, but add in extra crying, clinginess and sleep regression and you have a recipe for a challenging for days or weeks.
So in this article we will explain what to expect during your child’s first development leap, and give you some helpful tips on how to get through and survive leap 1.
Let’s jump in.
What Is A Baby Leap?
As we explained in a recent article, a baby leap is when a child experiences a sudden leap in brain development.
During your baby’s first year they will go through 8 unique leaps (or growth spurts), with each stage representing a specific change with the learning of new skills.
Although the 8 first-year leaps are all different, they share two common phases: The Fussy Phase and The Skills Phase.
The Fussy Phase
During a leap your baby will experience sensory changes that affect your child’s sense of taste, smell, sight, hearing and touch.
As you can imagine, these changes can be upsetting or stressful for a child, because what was once familiar to your baby has now started to change.
Why? Because in their eyes, you are the only thing that has remained consistent.
Three common symptoms, signs and characteristics of the fussy stage include the 3 Cs:
The Skills Phase
Your baby’s change in behavior during leap 1 (and all other leaps) may feel may feel like a regression, but the opposite is actually true.
This is because during a leap your baby is rapidly developing their brain and learning some amazing new skills.
Once your child is therefore over the initial shock of these changes, they will want to start exploring, doing new things and practicing the new possibilities that have just arisen.
When Is Leap 1?
The timing of leap 1 is not set in stone, but it’s typically from week 4 onwards.
What To Expect In Leap 1
Leap 1 is know as “New Sensations”.
During this first leap, you can expect your newborn baby to be more interested in their surroundings and begin to slowly start noticing things.
Many parents report that one of the most rewarding parts of this leap is seeing their baby more alert than ever before.
So don’t be surprised if your little one starts reacting more to you, your voice or your face, and they may even start noticing other people like siblings.
How To Survive Leap 1
Now you know what to expect in leap one, let’s take a look at 10 tips on how you can get through this leap with your sanity intact!
1. Be Prepared For Change
To help you survive leap 1 it’s important to know what to expect.
During leap one you can expect your baby to cry more often and become more clingy and cranky, no matter how well you and your partner may be caring for them.
This is a totally normal symptom or side-effect of a development leap.
Development leap 1 (as well as the other leaps) can impact your baby’s sleep, to the point where you may feel like their sleep is regressing.
Once again this is normal, but hopefully the tips and advice below should all help calm and settle your baby, and also help you get through this leap.
2. Look After Yourself
It goes without saying that baby leaps make parenting even more difficult than usual.
As a parent your natural instinct is to put your baby first, and it can be frustrating when you’re trying to do everything to settle your baby but seemingly to no avail.
But it’s important not to neglect yourself during this more challenging period.
These are the times to order takeout, run yourself a warm bath or do whatever else make your feel good and get through these particularly difficult few days.
3. Ask For Help
If so, there’s no shame in enlisting help during this or any other development leap, and it’s certainly not a reflection on your parenting skills or ability.
Enlisting help from others can be particularly helpful when you are feeling stressed and impatient yourself, because your baby has a way of sensing these feelings, which can sometimes make things worse.
4. Remember It Will Pass
It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and start thinking any changes will become permanent.
But growth spurts, development leaps and wonder weeks are all a normal part of development, and it won’t be long before your little one is through leap everything is normal again.
And as we mentioned above, development leaps are great, because they mean your child is progressing and learning new skills.
5. Reassure Your Child
One of the best things you can do for your baby during leap one is to reassure them often.
Make sure your child knows that you are there fore them.
Reassure your child frequently that everything is fine and you are here for them by giving lots of attention and cuddles, as this will help make them feel safe.
6. Nurse More Often
If you are breastfeeding your baby to sleep, you may want to nurse them more often during leap 1.
Nursing can help your little one feel safer and more comfortable during a developmental leap, so it’s a great tactic for settling a crying, cranky or fussy newborn.
7. Stay In Familiar Surroundings
As we mentioned, a development leap consists of a lot of change, so it’s a good idea to do what you can to keep things as consistent as possible.
For this reason, during a leap you may want to stay at home more often that you normally would.
Your home environment is familiar and safe to your little one, so staying in this familiar surrounding should help settle your child.
8. Keep A Consistent Routine
Babies love (and need) routine, and even more so during their first development leap.
A routine can also help when your baby is fighting sleep, so if your pre-sleep routine is something like play, bath, massage, feed, make sure you keep doing these things.
9. Skin To Skin & Baby Wearing
Another good way to reassure your baby that everything is ok is by giving them plenty of skin to skin during leap 1.
You may also want to wear your baby more often, because being close to mom or dad will help show them that everything is fine and that you are there fore them.
10. Prime Their Bedroom For Sleep
A dark room is comforting for a baby, because this is the same environment that they’ve been used to during the past 9 months while in mommy’s tummy.
So if your baby’s room isn’t as dark as it could be, try using blackout blinds to darken it as much as possible.
You may also want to consider playing white noise, because silence can be unnerving to your baby.
Again this comes down to what they’re used to – the womb can be a noisy place, so playing white noise can replicate the conditions your newborn baby is most used to, which should be settling and comforting.