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The book is out in the US, finally! It is called The Wonder Weeks, by Hetty Vanderjit and Frans Plooij. Available at NOW! I've ordered a copy. I'll put up a review here as soon as I've got mine (ordered it instantly).
While you are waiting for your copy to arrive, you can still crib off the items below. But soon, I'll be taking my content out, as it will probably violate copyright. AND, the book isn't that expensive. Please support these authors, who have made so many moms feel sane again. :)
Back to the old text for now:
Babies grow in stages, making leaps in development that are accompanied by 'fussy' periods and behavior changes - not to mention parental FRUSTRATION! Read on to learn more about what your baby is doing, by age.

I didn't do the translation (only added the headings and did some spell-checking and some minor editing of the intro text (it was pretty choppy)), so the English is rather variable. The stuff in the paren.s and with "?" are my notes (where the original translator left stuff out, and I made a guess). This info is also published in a book in English (Why they cry: understanding child development in the first year), but it is out of print (even in New Zealand - trust me, I've even tried finding it used!).

Hope it is helpful for you.

Congrats and enjoy your baby - they are amazing, wonderful beings, as I'm sure you already know.


Baby's developmental stages in the first year

From the Dutch book "Oei, ik groei" by Hetty van de Rijt and Frans X. Plooij. (A study of the fussy periods in a childs first year, and what developmental processing is going on to make them fussy.)

Babys mental development goes in steps, not gradually. All go through the same steps, all at nearly the same age, counted in weeks from the due date - not the birth date. Each new cognitive ability creates a whole new world for baby, and that means the whole world is strange and new. And frightening. Mommy is suddenly needed much more each time a developmental leap occurs, and baby is clingy, fussy, and prone to illness. (Sorry, dads, but it seems to be Mommy-first at this age - your turn will come later.) Once the child finishes developing that cognitive skill, they go through an "easy" period, where they seem to be much older, and have new skills.

Each stage has the general fussy behavior: they want to nurse the whole day, want bodily contact, sleep less, cry more, and are generally described as "fussy." There are also typical behaviors for each individual stage, such as being very quiet, moving less, and looking away from the mom (as they describe in the stage from around 37 weeks). The researchers found that babies get sick easily during these stages and they recommend not immunizing during these stages.

There are some important observations for parents. In the difficult periods many mothers consider weaning, because they are tired, frustrated, and feel used as a human pacifier. Conversely, nursing strikes usually happen during these periods, as well. If a mother knows that this stage is finite, and that it has a purpose and meaning, it is much easier to be patient and supportive. Frustration is reduced simply by knowing that something real and important is happening, and parents can even enjoy anticipating the next leap in babys level of understanding and interaction.

The researchers note that the "apparent" need of the child for more contact, more reassurance, and so forth is genuine. The clingy and needy reactions of your child are not because you have spoiled them, it is because they really need you desperately until they have grasped and processed this new understanding. They may need to check to see if some fundamental things are still true, including does mommy love me, and will she take care of me. The child is stressed and frightened by the newness of the world, and they really do need to be held more, nursed more, comforted more, and have their "strange fears" treated with respect and understanding. In order to enable the mother to get things done at the same time as handling the needs of the child, the authors recommend using a sling or baby carrier to keep body contact during these stages.

Remember that these dates are post-due-date. (If you are not certain your due date was right, or you were given conflicting due dates, you may find the stages helpful in targeting which date was correct.)

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Length: 1 week?

Change/learning: senses; they see more, hear more distinct noises, etc, and they start to smile

Reaction: cry more, nurse more, want to be held by mommy only.

Post-development: explore visual world, looking at faces, etc.

Mothers reaction: ?

How to help: ?


8 WEEKS (2 months) POST-DUE DATE:

Length: a few days to two weeks.

Change/learning: The baby learns to make patterns.

Reaction: standard (cry, nurse, mommy)

Post-development: S/he sees the hands and tries to use them. S/he feels their own legs/ arms moving. make different expressions, use his/her voice

Mothers reaction: ?

How to help: physical movement games? visual patterns?


12 WEEKS (2 months) POST-DUE DATE:

Length: one day to one week.

Change/learning: fluidity of changes

Reaction: standard (cry, nurse, mommy)

Post-development: after this step the baby can see, feel, hear, and identify fluidly changing tones and movements, such as from one tone to another, or from one position of the body to another. Baby has more control over his/her body.

Mothers reaction:

How to help:


19 WEEKS (just over 4 months) POST-DUE DATE:

Length: usually lasts for 5 weeks, but can last from 1 to 6 weeks.

Change/learning: Full development of flowing movements, especially comprehending and experiencing a series of movements

Reaction: Standard, plus: chaotic sleep pattern shy ask for more attention want you to support his/her head more often don't want to loose bodily contact eat worse; get distracted very easily. Bf babies "plays" with the nipple, wants it in their mouth, but doesn't drink changing moods more quiet development of the baby seems to have stopped some babies have very strong wills in their wishes to explore everything tries to grasp everything within his reach some babies hurt their mothers, eg at the breast.

Post-development: starts to repeat movements, eg repeatedly push on an activity center. taking a toy from the one hand to the other, looking at a toy from all sides, changing his body position to reach to something. This all in 1 flowing movement. The sounds he makes start to be more flowing. He can hear flowing sounds now and is intrigued by that. Baby can see short series of flowing movements, eg a ball that goes up and down from the floor.

Mothers reaction: exhausted annoyed mother feels it is 'enough'; wonders if she is 'spoiling' the child.

How to help:

help him with rolling over

help him with "crawling"

let him exercise his hands and fingers eg with an activity center

let him explore the world

some babies wants to explore small details

music: singing etc.

let him watch everything you do

let him play while he sits, eg on your lap.

let him search for things, eg under a piece of cloth

he starts to understand the first words

babies of this age like books


23-26 WEEKS (5 1/3 - 6 months) POST-DUE DATE:

Length: 4 weeks (but varies between 1 to 5 weeks) Usually peaks @26 weeks

Change/learning: relationships between items (spatial, temporal)

Reaction: sleeps bad, nightmares, shy, wants more attention, wants to keep bodily contact, eats poorly (refuses breast sometimes), more quiet, doesn't want to be changed, takes a blanket.

Post-development: Things in the world are related to each other. People have a certain distance to each other (so s/he starts to cry when mother moves away). S/he starts to understand that things are in, out, up, next to, under, or between another thing(s). S/he plays with that. Baby starts to understand that two things, people or situations always come together. Eg: s/he hears the keys on the front door and knows that his father or mother comes home. S/he understands when people make mistakes, such as when mother drops something. Baby can make his body parts work together.

Mothers reaction: usual frustration.

How to help:

Show your baby that you dont really leave: carry the baby, keep him in sight, use your voice when you're out of sight, play peek-a-boo.

encourage your baby to follow you.

let the baby explore everything with yourself as basis (sit on the ground)

let him crawl and explore 'up', 'under', 'in', eg under the table.

baby moves toy: up, in, next, under, out, and so on.

baby wants to drop toy and to throw it away.

baby explores boxes containing something

baby wants to take things apart

likes things that disappear in something else

baby understands short sentences and gestures

baby start to use 'words' and gestures, eg clap hands

read books

baby reacts on music ('dances' and 'sings')

wants to sit.

wants to stand up.

wants to walk

baby plays with the relation between two body parts, eg s/he picks up thing from the floor with thumb and finger


Between 30 and 35 weeks an easy period starts.


34- 37 WEEKS (almost 8 months - 8 months) POST-DUE DATE:

Length: avg. 4 weeks (3-6 weeks long)

Change/learning: learns to make categories, divides world in groups

Reaction: hangs on your legs, shy, wants to keep body contact, wanted to be kept busy, sleeps less, nightmares, "too" sweet, more quiet, don't want to be changed, behaves more as a baby then usual, eats poorly.

Post-development: plays with things that tastes the same, look the same, sound the same, and so on. Understands now that a drawing of a horse points to the same concept as a real horse.

Mothers reaction: ? probably the usual frustrations (am I spoiling this child?)

How to help:

help her to investigate categories, eg comparing round things with each other, and square things, big things, small things.

let your baby play with the notions "one" and "more than one"

let your baby play with give and receive

let your baby play with the notions "careful" and "not careful" (gentle/firm, safe/no-no)

let your baby play with different shapes

let your baby investigate parts of a thing.(eg keys on a keychain or buttons on a shirt)

let your baby experience how different materials feels in her hands.

play with concepts of "heavy" and "light", "high" and "low", "big" and "small"

give the baby space to move

show understanding for her "strange" fears.

let your baby play 'roles', eg as mom


42- 46 WEEKS (9 - 10 months) POST-DUE DATE:

Length: avg. 5 weeks (3-7 weeks)

Change/learning: sequences. The baby can understand things that logically follow each other.

Reaction: cry more, clingy stranger anxiety don't want to lose bodily contact asks for more attention jealous fast changing moods chaotic sleep pattern nightmares more quiet shy wants you to support his head more often eats worse; less interest in solids, more in bf. behaves more baby-like more cuddling, "sweet baby"

Post-development: Practices sequences; pick up a key, walk to the door and put the key in the lock. Or, following gestures that belongs to a song. Baby starts to understand sequences

Mothers reaction: uncertain exhausted annoyed mother feels it is 'enough'

How to help:

Baby wants to do things themselves. Let them explore it!

Baby is "trying you out", to find out what behavior follows on his.

Show him your (dis)approval

When the baby is frustrated , distract him

After this step baby start with words. Now you can play with words.

Listen to your baby when he tries to tell you something

Don't force your baby when he isn't interested.

Show understanding when baby has strange fears.


Between 47 and 52 weeks baby has an easy period.


51+/- 2 weeks - 55 WEEKS (12-13 months) POST-DUE DATE:

Length: avg. 4-5 weeks (3-6 weeks) peaks at 55 weeks, usually done at 59 weeks

Change/learning: the understanding of "programs" or activities that have multiple steps, but where the steps may not be the same every time or may have variations in order. Steps are flexible.

Reaction: back to mama, cry more, clingy. when with mama they cry less. clings to your legs; stranger anxiety; don't want to lose body contact; want to be played with; is jealous when mother pays attention to someone or something else; fast changing mood; sleeps bad; nightmares; eats bad but nurses often; behaves more baby-like; 'too' sweet; takes to a blanket or bear; naughty; hot-tempered.

Post-development:. Interested in things like "doing the laundry", washing the dishes, dinner, clothing, building towers, and so on. These are programs that consists of several different steps. These steps are flexible. Even when the order of things to be done change, it keeps to be the same program. Baby understands that. A program consists of several steps and in between the steps there may be several choices to make: should I go on with this program, and what step should I make now. Baby starts playing with these choices. And investigates which choices are possible and which are not. Eg while eating, turning around the silverware to make the food fall on the floor.

Baby can 'plan' to do a program, eg take a bucket to start washing dishes. Or getting a coat to go outside. But he cannot explain things, so when people don't understand him, he'll feel frustrated. S/he doesn't understand 'waiting' yet. Baby can refuse to do a certain program, because he understands what happens at the end of the steps.

Mothers reaction: is exhausted and uncertain

How to help:

playing with changing/putting on clothes and with washing;

playing with eating "all by themselves" (put a big plastic mat around his chair);

toys with programs eg garage with cars, train, farm with animals, dolls, silverware, cottages, shops. Help him/her with this;

playing with real things, eg money, radio, make-up, shoes;

telling stories;

playing with talking, conversations;

playing with music, listening to song and making the motions;

'helping' mother;

babies can understand (be taught) that you are busy with a program yourself and you want to finish it before responding to her.

Let your baby search for new solutions, exploring several endings of a program.

let your baby play investigator;

gifted children are extremely exhausting for their parents. they go on and on exploring everything and never stop. Every time a new thing.

new fears appears

end of book :(

No more steps are described. They only warn for coming steps: around 64 weeks and around 75 weeks.


"Oei, ik groei" by Hetty van de Rijt and Frans X. Plooij (Why They Cry: Understanding Child Development in the First Year) Out of print, Published by HarperCollins