The intensive development of our toddler is something that makes every parent happy and proud. However, with the acquisition of new skills is also associated with increased grumpiness and general irritability of our child. As it turns out, they can be associated with developmental leaps.
Developmental leaps and change of behavior
As it is commonly known the first year of life of a toddler is a very intensive time. Independent turning from side to side, maintaining eye contact or charming chattering are elements which we inextricably associate with growing up of our baby. Although each new skill arouses general satisfaction and pride, it is often preceded by a period of intense crying, sleeplessness or lack of appetite. It is connected with the so-called developmental leap, i.e. a period of intensive development of the nervous system. Then the toddler becomes more nervous, which results from his greater sensitivity to surrounding stimuli. During this time, the brain also undergoes intensive development, which results in the acquisition of new skills.
The scientific literature distinguishes seven developmental leaps that occur during the first twelve months of life. Each leap is slightly longer than the previous one and ends with the development of slightly different skills. It is important to remember that the term of appearance of the leaps will vary depending on individual conditions of each toddler – in premature babies they may appear much later, while in children born after the deadline – a little earlier.
First growth spurt
It appears between the fourth and fifth week of life and is connected with sharpening of senses of our child. At this time, babies begin to see the world around them more clearly, respond to smell and touch stimuli and, consequently, become a little more nervous. After the first developmental leap, we may notice our baby’s shy smiles, tears when crying and greatly increased activity between naps.
Second growth spurt
This occurs between seven and nine weeks of age. During this time, your baby gains body awareness. He plays with his arms and legs and makes more and more sounds.
The third developmental jump – 10-12 weeks of life
This is the time when our baby starts to grasp objects more confidently and looks at faces much longer. He also begins to notice changes in tone of voice and reacts vividly to new sounds.
The fourth developmental stage
This is one of the more intense leaps that occurs between 18 and 20 weeks of age. During this time, our baby begins to notice cause-and-effect sequences and plays with her own voice. This is a particularly difficult time because during the fourth developmental leap, babies are often more grumpy, cry more, and seem more nervous. Fortunately, after it is over, our baby will develop new ways of communication – such as pointing to objects with his finger and will become more attentive during everyday interactions.
The fifth developmental jump – 22-26 weeks of age
During this period the toddler starts to develop his social skills – he notices relations between people, reacts with a smile to a familiar face, expresses liking or disliking towards particular people. Besides, he is getting better at controlling his own body – he learns to sit up, effectively grasps various objects, etc. The fifth developmental leap is also characterized by increased separation anxiety – the child begins to react with crying to the exit of the parents, even to another room.
Sixth jump – development of intelligence
The sixth developmental leap occurs around 35 weeks of age. This is when we can observe major changes in the way our baby perceives the world. He starts to understand the differences and connections between the real world and the fictional world, e.g. during a walk, he recognizes an animal that appeared earlier in a book. This is a period of increased discovery and exploration of the world around him.
The last developmental leap
The seventh developmental leap occurs around week 40. Once it is over, the toddler begins to understand some fixed sequences of events, such as cleaning up after play or bathing before going to bed. He is more and more willing to play with toys and begins to pronounce his first words.
Although the developmental leaps are quite easy to describe and set in time, it is worth remembering that each child is different, so it will experience the changes in its own individual way. During this time it is also worth to stay calm and remember that this is the period when the toddler will need our closeness and attention. Frequent crying and lethargy are very natural, but you should carefully observe your child so as not to confuse the developmental leaps with illness or infection.
Photo: Helena Lopes, source: pexels.com