Why is my Baby so Fussy? What you may be missing with your Babies Brain Development.
What is going on with my baby?
Have you ever had this thought, ‘What happened to my baby, why are they so fussy!?’ I know I sure have.
It may go something like this…My perfect happy, smiley baby goes to sleep and up wakes an extremely fussy, whiny baby. What happened??
Now I am someone who does a lot of research and asks a lot of questions before I make any definite decisions. First thing I usually do is talk to other parents asking if they remember what their child was like at this age and so on. Now of course every child is different, BUT in my research (and talking to other moms) I have been led to a book (or phone app) called The Wonder Weeks.
Below, I am going to write out a synopsis of these “Wonder Weeks” because I have learned how important it is to understand what is going on with our infants development so that we can better parent and support our children. Also, as a Doctor myself, it has helped me to better serve the children in our practice when certain symptoms are coming up.
So what are these wonder weeks all about?
First thing to note is that this information is based on 35 years of research on the development of babies and the way mothers or other caregivers respond to their developmental changes.
The researchers found that all normal, healthy babies are more tearful, troublesome, demanding, and fussy at the same ages and when this occurs they may drive the entire household into despair. The crying or fussiness is for a good reason though– even if you can’t observe the reason. Your baby is suddenly undergoing drastic changes to their development which is clearly upsetting. Imagine waking up to the world looking completely different and how scary that would be for you as an adult.
All these changes enable baby to learn many new skills and truly should be a reason for celebration. (Yes it is hard to celebrate an increasingly fussy child…)
Think of these leaps as “growth spurts” but instead of visualizing their physical bodies changing, realize it is all happening within their brains. Also note that these 10 developmental leaps that infants undergo are not necessarily in sync with physical growth spurts although they can occasionally coincide. Cutting teeth is also completely unrelated.
What happens before each leap?
Shortly before each leap, a sudden and extremely rapid change happens within the baby. It’s a change in the nervous system, chiefly the brain, and it may be accompanied by some physical changes as well. These big changes bring a new kind of perception and alters the way baby perceives the world. It also brings a new set of skills appropriate for that world.
Each of the 10 difficult periods are usually accompanied by the three C’s: Clinginess, Crankiness and Crying. This can be very worrisome when as a parent, you find you are at a loss to explain what is going on with your child. Most parents wonder if their child is ill or may become annoyed with the situation. When you see this in your child, it is very likely that they are making a major leap forward in their development.
Some babies find the change more distressing than others and some of the changes will be more distressing than others. Amazingly, the troublesome phase stops just as suddenly as it starts. Baby will become more dependant as they are putting their new skills into practice.
To summarize, below is the table of each of these stages, at what age and what is happening (you may need to read this on a computer or tablet to see all columns):
|Week||Leap Name||Description||Abilities After the Leap||How you can help|
|4 ½ – 5 ½ Weeks||Changing Sensations||Your newborn is becoming more alert and noticing the world around them. They are experiencing a rapid maturation of metabolism, internal organs and senses.||· Looks at something for longer
· Social smile
|· Give your baby lots of physical contact that will reassure them
· Baby wearing
· Sing to your baby
|7 ½ – 9 ½ Weeks||Patterns||Baby is beginning to recognize and create simple patterns in his world. Your baby will discover their hands. Some automatic reflexes from birth will disappear and your baby will do things purposefully.||– Your baby will be able to perceive patterns with all their senses
– Better able to hold head up
– Turns head towards sound
– Tries grabbing for toys
– Grunting or short explosive sounds
|– Give physical contact
– Let your baby determine how long she wants to do something
– Chat with baby
– Keep toys at various distances
|11 ½ – 12 ½ weeks||Smooth Transitions||Baby’s movements will become smoother and more coordinated. They will also recognize changes in her world and the patterns of these changes (i.e. every time the dryer buzzer goes off, mom leaves the room).||– Follow something with her eyes in a fluid motion
– Rolls from tummy to back with a little help
– Shakes a rattle
– Makes new sounds
– Blows saliva bubbles
|– Teach your baby about how different fabrics feel
– How to grasp
– Answer their gibberish
|14 ½ – 19 ½ weeks||Events||Baby is learning to recognize cause and effect using all their senses and to predict the outcomes.||– Hardly misses when grasp something
– Hands in their mouth
– Pulls cloth away from face
– Searches for Mom and Dad
– Grumbles when impatient
|– Let your baby play naked
– Give them time to discover they world for as long as they want
– Touch gently
|22 ½ – 26 ½ weeks||Relationships||Baby will start to perceive relationships between objects and people including distance. Also now something can be inside, outside, on top of, next to, underneath or in between something else.||– Interest in zippers, labels or stickers
– Lifts things up to see if anything is below
– Throws something to see the contents
– Protests when you walk away
– Stands up with a little help
|– Hide and seek (where they can still see hidden object a little bit)
– Reading picture books
– Songs and motion games
– Sit and stand games
|33 ½ – 37 ½ weeks||Categories||See, Compare and Classify
Baby is learning that a large dog is not a horse. Baby will investigate everything in their path and study every detail.
|– Imitates adults
– Calls for a song
– Practice crawling
– Exaggerates her moods
– Challenges others to a game
– Shows she knows some words
|– Talk to baby a lot
– Give lots of time to experiment
– Teach rough versus gentle
– Reaching many books with lots of materials
– Explore the outside world
|41 ½ – 56 ½ weeks||Sequences||Baby will learn to recognize and manage the flow of events and relationships over time. Your baby starts to link actions together to reach a goal such as feeding herself but may miss a component or two in the beginning.||– Answer simple questions
– Points at things, people or animals when asked
– Simple puzzles of three pieces
– Repeats a game
– Stacks rings onto pyramid
|– Let your baby do things on their own
– Let them help you with house
– Playing point it out to me games
– Play a lot of singing and moving games
|50 ½ – 54 ½ weeks||Programs||Your toddler builds on their understanding of sequences and starts to learn that there is more than one way to accomplish the same task. Your baby will love to help you wish tasks.||– Grabs her clothes and wants to be dressed
– Picks up a pencil and “makes a drawing” if you tell her how
– Bathes a doll
– Invents imaginary ways in which she drives a car
|– Stirring food and taking a bite
– Dusting with a piece of cloth
– Playing with real things such as a diaper bag
– Toy farm with animals
– Small, unbreakable tea set
|59 ½ – 64 ½ weeks||Principles||This stage is related to the cause-and-effect breakthrough we previously saw, only now, your toddler is learning how to use cause-and-effect to achieve her goals. She is also learning that her actions have certain consequences. Your child may be practicing with emotions and trying out emotional strategies such as do I get my way if I nag?||– Playing with emotions
– Wants to do things by herself
– Thinks ahead, contemplates and makes plans
– Starts nagging and throwing temper tantrums
– Mine versus yours
– Starts negotiating and bargaining
– May have irrational fears
|– Lay down some ground rules
– Spend time getting acquainted with the outdoors
– Give your child the ability to be inventive
|70 ½ – 76 ½ weeks||Systems||Your toddler gets the new ability to perceive and handle systems and is now able to see clearly over the world of principles. Your child no longer applies principles to changing circumstances. They can choose to be honest, helpful, careful or patient. They also start to understand that mommy and daddy are separate people and uses terms such as you or me.||– Creates drawings about the real world
– Develop a sense of time
– They are part of an extended family
– Can console others
– Increase in comprehension of words spoken around them and starts to speak more words
|– Help your toddler develop a conscience
– Develop a sense of time
– Draw together
– Do some experiments together with elementary physics
Again, read the Wonder Weeks and download the app which will give you a heads up when your child is entering a leap.
We truly found it to be a sanity saver and hope it is helpful for you to stay connected with your children, understand what they are going through and remain calm and patient through some of their more challenging times.
Buy the book here: https://www.amazon.ca/Wonder-Weeks-Stimulate-Development-Predictable/dp/9491882163/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1530617472&sr=8-1&keywords=the+wonder+weeks
To learn more: https://www.thewonderweeks.com