The 8 growth phases of a baby
In Sweden, Spain and in The Netherlands, research has been done for over 25 years on the development of baby's. In all of these researches the same results were obtained. This particular research contained the so-called "leap theory", in which baby's went through a mental leap or phase of growth in certain moments in their life. In the results of the research it appeared that all baby's went through these mental growth phases in the same time of their life.
The first growth phase - around 5 weeks
Your baby will notice around 5 weeks that something new and strange is happening to him/her and will become very restless as a result of this. The baby's senses are developing quickly and as the baby does not know what is going on it will upset him/her and it will show this by crying and asking for attention a lot. For the parents this phase is a difficult time, as they also do not understand what is happening and why the baby is suddenly behaving differently. The only thing that you can do about this is to comfort the baby and give it the attention that it needs. This period of time in a baby's life is a typical "mental jump" or also called a "growth phase". These phases usually last between one day and one week, after which the behaviour of crying will stop.
Fascinating is that after each of these phases the baby has learned something new! So pay attention to your baby after each of these phases and you will notice that your baby has developed a new skill. Around 5 weeks of age your baby could have developed one or more of the following skills:
- A better sight, ability to focus on objects that are at further distance.
- Looking at people or objects more focused and for a longer time.
- Being awake for a longer time and wanting to play more and more actively
- More sensitive to its surroundings and what is happening around him/her
- Change of metabolism: can tolerate more nutrients and sensitivity for certain nutrients as before could be less sensitive now.
The second growth phase - around 8 weeks
The second jump / phase follows quickly on the first. In the early stage, the growth phases follow each other up quickly and as your baby gets older they will be further apart. You recognize a phase because your baby will start eating less, sleeping less, cries more and seeks your attention a lot. This second phase takes a few days to 2 weeks, then it will stop until the next growth phase follows.
During this phase your baby will learn new abilities: he discovers his hands and feet and will be more physically active. Also, your baby has more control over his facial muscles and will start using more grimaces, such as smiling. The baby will slowly begin making sounds (brabbling) and will try to attract your attention. You can help your baby with the skills he is learning to develop:
- Vary the environment of your baby: Your baby may get bored after a while with the same environment / objects.
- Teach your baby how to hold a toy in its hand.
- Respond to the sounds of your baby and talk back, to encourage your baby to talk.
The third growth phase around the 12 weeks
Your baby will again start to cry often and needing much of your time and attention, which means it's time for the next growth phase. For many parents it means that with every jump the sleeping and feeding patterns of your baby change as well, which causes many frustrations. When there is finally a routine in the patterns, a new growth phase can change this because your baby is suddenly no longer satisfied with the routine and structure. This phase will teach your baby about "smooth transitions", namely to see, hear, smell, taste and touch. His can now move his head one side to the other side and he will move his head in the direction of a sound . Swallowing food will also go easier, this means that your baby can handle heavier foods, think of porridge instead of milk. Wait a few more weeks, around the 4th month, you can already start with purified food, from the known Olvarit jars.
Help your baby with his new skills:
• Occasionally "talk" to your baby, which will make him try to make sounds back at you.
• Keeps toys near your baby so he will try grabbing them, perhaps he will also succeed, though with both hands.
• Let your baby hold many different things to feel them: the materials from which they are made, the shapes, etc.
• Teach your baby to roll from belly to back or vice versa
• Help your baby pull himself to stand or sit.
The fourth growth phase - around 19 weeks
As in the previous jumps, your baby will again demand more attention from his parents. This phase will take longer than the previous one, making it seem as if the progress of your baby stops and goes back to square one. After a while when the phase is over, in about 2 weeks duration, you will again find that your baby has learned new things:
- Rolls himself from belly to back or vice versa.
- Firmer sitting upright in a chair
- Makes more mouth movements
- Grabs toys from himself and throws them away
- Responds to his own name and understands some frequently-used words.
- Begins to give priority for certain toys above other toys
- Help your baby as he tries to roll or crawl.
Also an Activity Center is a great purchase around this time, your baby will be more interested in this than before. Some babies are more interested in music, so put some music on, preferably with a simple melody and / or rhythm.
The fifth growth phase - around 26 weeks
First the necessary drama of crying and restlesness will start again. This time the phase can persist for about 3 to 4 weeks, so patience is needed. Your baby can now place a relationship between one object and another and make a link between certain events, for example:
• Press a button because he knows that there is a sound coming out or that something else will happen
• To laugh or cry when something happens what according to the baby falls out of the ordinary.
Also, your baby will now try to make an effort to sit or stand (the latter one still often with the help of father or mother). Try to often practice this with your baby. Around this age your baby knows the difference between food that he likes and doesn't like. He does not want to eat just anything and has its preferences. It is important not to force him to eat. Try if your baby wants to eat something without help (eg a crust of bread or a piece of bread). Your baby will find it interesting to do and it encourages his eating behaviour.
The sixth phase of growth around the 37th week
It's that time again: your baby wants to go back to mommy and daddy and he will let you know that by the usual behaviour. Now you know pretty much what to expect; why your child suddenly no longer wants to sleep well and eat well. This phase lasts about 3-6 weeks, so be prepared. What new abilities could your baby have learned by now:
- Realisation that some things are similar, have the same sound or taste the same.
- Will intensively look at people, animals and things and compare and examine everything.
- Often tries to imitate sounds and gestures.
- Understands the names of objects and people that are frequently used, such as table, chair, dog, cat, etc.
- Recognize themselves in the mirror or in a photo.
Help your baby with the new things he/she has learned. Speak in short sentences of a few words with your baby so he will recognize words faster. Teach your baby the concept of "give and take". The sooner they understand this, the better. You can also teach your baby now that certain things should be handled gently, such as toys as they can break. Use easy words like "gently " and "do not throw". It is Also important to compliment your baby when it has done something good or nice.
The seventh growth stage around 46 weeks
This phase begins again with the same symptoms as the previous phases and lasts 3-7 weeks. Around this time your baby is becoming more mobile, he may already crawl or walk and will also do more researching by going to places where he first could not reach. Because not all of these places are safe for him so you should keep an eye on him. Now you will notice that with the coming and going of the phases your baby is slowly becoming a little person with their own needs, emotions and opinions.
Your baby will now learn to do successive movements, such as using a tool to put sand on and pour this into a bucket, or successive gestures like a nursery rhyme. It is now easier for you to dress your baby as he will stick out his arms or legs when putting on a shirt or pants. The seventh stage is also known as a difficult phase because your baby feels that he can do a lot of things by himself (sometimes more than is actually the case). He does not want you to help so you should patiently wait for your baby (if there is time) and it's not bad for your baby to have the chance to try do something themselves. Take into account though, that not all the things he wants to do are safe and hygienic, and he sometimes will wait until you're not in sight. Keep an eye on him!
The 8th Growth phase of a baby around 55 weeks
The final phase that your baby is still a baby. This phase will take 3 to 6 weeks. From that time on your baby will be called a toddler. Your baby will now be able to eat more solid food, so he can eat with the rest of the family although he should be given smaller portions or practice use smaller chunks. Because sometimes this can be quite a mess you can give him an apron or put a piece of plastic under his plate.
Your baby will pay more attention to itself when you are taking off his clothes, when his hair is being combed, how he is being washed, etc. Describe to him in short words what you are doing with him, such as “put on sweater”, “combing hair”, etc. This is good for expanding his vocabulary. Also give him the chance to try to help, for instance, you can give him a sponge for helping to wash himself. Remember that your baby now understands more words than he can say.
As he is getting older, he must also be taught to understand that you do not always have time for him, and that he must be able to entertain himself while you're doing the dishes or cleaning up anything. Your baby will not immediately understand this and be able to entertain himself for a long time. For example, start with 5 minutes, if necessary, give him something to do (coloring, playing with blocks), then quickly do what you wanted to do. You can slowly build up the breaks in this way, so your baby learns to entertain himself for a while and come to understand that you also have your own business you need to do.