Your baby’s mental leaps in the first year

Why is my baby crying?

Why is my baby crying? This is one of the most frequently asked questions that you can ask yourself as a new parent/caregiver. Our research, which began in Tanzania in 1971, has led us to discover that all babies are more inclined to cry, clingy and cranky than usual from time to time. We found out that we can accurately predict the beginning of this fussy phase almost up to the week based on the due date

But we appreciated perhaps even more was the discovery of why babies cry. This is because this has to do with the mental development of your baby. Their brains suddenly change drastically, causing the senses to develop rapidly. This is what we call the leaps, the leaps of The Wonder Weeks!

But first, what are leaps?

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In the first year, your baby goes through no fewer than eight leaps:


Leap 1 – from 4 weeks: The World of Sensations

Everything indicates that your baby experiences a rapid maturation of metabolism, intestines and senses around this leap. They are clearly more interested in the world around them and can now see a little better beyond the distance of 20 to 30 centimeters. As a mother, you will notice that your baby suddenly reacts more to you and others. Your baby can produce tears for the first time or much more often than before. If you want to discover their character already at an early age, make sure to keep a diary in our app from leap 1 onward. 

Also read: Leap 1 – The World of Changing Sensations.


Leap 2 – from 7 weeks: The World of Patterns

From this leap on, your baby no longer experiences the world as a whole, as an indistinct “soup”. They begin to distinguish fixed “patterns” in this formerly indistinct soup. For example, they discover their hands. They look at them in surprise and twist and turn them. Babies lose many of their automatic reflexes and begin to “consciously” feel the things they do with their body. All of your baby’s movements still appear fairly wooden.

Also read: Leap 2 – The World of Patterns.


Leap 3 – from 11 weeks: The World of Smooth Transitions

For the whole of the first year, your baby learns things that are so simple for us as adults that we do not even think about it anymore. But for babies, they are the limits of what they can achieve and therefore their peak experiences. This means that fixed “patterns” are followed by “smooth transitions”. You will notice that your baby’s movement are less wooden, less jerky. This change resonates in the way your baby plays with their voice. This development is the reason why babies love to play the airplane game, flying through the room in your arms, descend in a steep dive and taking off again – to name just one example.

Also read: Leap 3 – The World of Smooth Transitions.


Leap 4 – from 14 weeks: The World of Events 19

The next world is that of “events”. Before taking this leap, your baby was only able to see one smooth transition. Now they can see, hear, smell, taste and even make a short series of “smooth transitions” themselves. Examples include a bouncing ball, a waving hand, or grabbing something with your hand. Your baby enjoys classic nursery rhymes with gestures, such as “clap your hands”. Look out for another 400 skills in our app!

Also read: Leap 4 – The World of Events.


Leap 5 – from 22 weeks: The World of Relationships

At the age of almost six months, your baby enters the world of “relationships”. How does one relate to the other? This also involves simple things, such as recognizing the distance between people and objects, and the place that things have in relation to one another: a block in a block box, behind, on top of or underneath, for example. 

Maybe your baby’s will start to cry all of a sudden when you move away from them for a bit. This is completely normal. Your baby now understands that the distance between you is growing!

Also read: Leap 5 – The World of Relationships.


Leap 6 – from 33 weeks: The World of Categories

The next step is the world of “categories”. Now your baby has to learn that a dog is not a horse. Or that a black-and-white spotted cat is not a cow. This takes a lot of looking and comparing, and your baby will love to go out with you during this period, into the big wide world. There are fun games to stimulate these developments; in our app you will find at least 50!

Also read: Leap 6 – The World of Categories.


Leap 7 – from 41 weeks: The World of Sequences

In the world of “sequences”, your baby learns to recognize and control the flow of events and relationships. Eating porridge with a spoon, for example, means grabbing the spoon, putting the spoon in the porridge, scooping some porridge on to the spoon, bringing the spoon to your head and putting it in your mouth (and ideally not in your eye ;)).

Your baby cannot yet handle the entire “eating porridge with a spoon” program, but they can already get two or three parts thereof in a row: “grabbing the spoon, putting it in the porridge and patting it nicely up and down”, for example. If you let your baby get away with it, they are going to create an unholy mess. But some protective sheet under the highchair and a lot of patience will prove to be worthwhile investments that pay off time and again.

Also read: Leap 7 – The World of Sequences.


Leap 8 – from 50 weeks – The World of Programs

Your baby is now able to perceive a whole sequence of actions as one thing. They now recognize that putting a dirty plate in the water, moving the brush over it and placing it in the rack for the water to drip off is “washing dishes”. They love to help you with these kinds of chores. And of course it takes lots of soapy water!

Also read: Leap 8 – The World of Programs.


Do you want to know everything about the leaps? Take a look at your child’s mental development and discover how you can stimulate the new skills with The Wonder Weeks book or our app!

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