Leap 6

With leap 6 at about 37 weeks (eight and a half months), it is time for your baby to explore the world of categories. At this age, the explorations of your baby can often seem very methodical. For example, you may notice your little tyke picking up specks from the floor and examining them studiously between his thumb and forefinger. Or your budding little chef may rearrange the food on his plate by testing the way a banana squashes or spinach squishes through his tiny fingers. Your baby will assume the most serious, absorbed expression while carrying out these investigations. In fact, that is just what they are; they’re investigations that will help your little researcher begin to categorize his world.

Your baby is now able to recognize that certain objects, sensations, animals, and people belong together in groups or categories. For example, a banana looks, feels, and tastes different than spinach, but they are both food. These are important distinctions and similarities to sort out as your baby now learns that a large dog is not a horse and a spotted cat is not a cow. You will notice that your baby now investigates everything in his path and studies every detail as he starts to categorize things around him. The leap into the world of categories will affect every sense: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. The use of different categories in our speech is indicative of our way of thinking. At the end of this leap, your baby will be able to start understanding and using this way of thinking as well. This will make it easier for you and your baby to understand one another by the end of this leap.

The first (fussy) phase of this leap into the perceptual world of categories is age-linked and predictable and starts about 34 weeks after the due date. It follows a dramatic change in your baby’s brain waves and increase in the head circumference and glucose metabolism. Most babies start the second phase of this leap about 37 weeks after their due date. The initial perception of the world of categories sets the development of a whole range of global concepts, such as the concept of animals, in motion. However, the first categories are acquired through real-time, feedback-corrected, trial-and-error experiences in comparing things and learning the similarities within a category and the differences between categories. Consequently, there may be a difference of many weeks or even months between two babies when it comes to mastering a particular concept.

After having gone through this leap, the changes in Liam’s behavior are dramatic. Now, your little baby is developing into a child.

These are examples of what your baby’s skills and interests might be after this leap:

• Shows that he knows some words.

• Makes it clear that he finds something dirty (i.e. by sniffing).

• Imitates adults.

• Recognizes himself in the mirror.

• Exaggerates his moods.

• Plays peek-a-boo by himself.

• Challenges others to play a game.

• Calls for a song (i.e. by clapping his hands).

• Begins to practice crawling.

Note: a baby never does all of these things at once!

Note: Many mothers are fed up with breastfeeding after this leap. Your baby’s ability to nag during this leap can be rather irritating. Remember that a leap will go away, so hang in there!

With each leap, your baby has the opportunity to learn many new skills. It is impossible for your baby to master these skills all at once. You may often see new skills during or right after a new leap. After having made yet another leap, the new ability belonging to that leap is one level up in the hierarchy of abilities. Consequently, the next highest level of abilities becomes subservient to the highest level. As a result, your baby shows new skills that he could have learned after the previous leap but didn’t.

Just as with former leaps, there are several characteristics you will recognize when Liam is going through this leap. Your baby will cry more, sleep less, have mood swings, and cling to you more.

Typical signs of this leap also include:

• Jealousy: Your baby wants you to only play with him. If you pay attention to someone else, Liam becomes difficult. One can say he is jealous but not consciously.

• Nightmares: Babies dream, so they also have nightmares. During this leap, you will notice that he may suddenly wake up screaming or make crying sounds while asleep. These are signs of nightmares.

• Being extremely lovely: For the first time, your baby will alternate between his bad temper and good, going from being difficult to extremely lovely and nice. Obviously, this is another way to get attention.

• Behaving more babyish: Although he does this unconsciously, your baby can suddenly act as if he were a younger baby. It’s like going back in time.

This leap is characterized by learning what belongs to what. Your baby will learn how to divide the world into categories. You can help Liam do this by:

• Talking to him a lot. (Name things that you see or things that appear interesting to Liam, but be careful to mind your words. Name the things that Liam can see only at that moment or things that keep him occupied.)

• Observing variations within a category with Liam. (For example, take your baby to see an actual cow, show him a picture of a cow, and show him an abstract painting of a cow.)

• Giving your baby the time to experiment and play so that he can understand why something belongs to a category.

• Teaching your baby the concepts of rough and gentle.

• Reading many picture books that have various materials in them.

• Exploring the outside world with him.

• Being consistent. (Your baby might be able to do something naughty. Don’t laugh about it, but tell him that he is not allowed to do that. Use a firm voice, but never use physical force).


Ref.: The wonder weeks