If you’ve read part one of this two-part series on your baby’s development, you know, by this point, that your baby has gone through a ton of changes! But what comes ahead as your baby nears/enters toddlerhood are critical changes that will carry them through the rest of their lives. So, let’s dive into developmental leaps 6-10 and continue our discussion about how and when your baby grows!
Leap #6: The World of Categories
Around week 37, you may notice your baby is becoming more methodical. They may be focusing intently on the way they can interact with and manipulate objects. Your little one may suddenly be obsessed with squishing their food or examining specks of lint they find on the floor. This is because they are starting to “research” their world. This intentional type of behavior is helping them recognize which sensations, objects, etc. belong to which categories (e.g. food, toys, animals, and so on).
Leap #7: The World of Sequence
During leap #6, destruction was the name of the game for your baby, but by around week 46, you may notice the exact opposite to be true. During developmental leap #7, your little one will have a new interest in construction. It is by this time that your baby starts to understand that success comes after a series of sequences. If they want to build a tower of blocks, for example, they will need to understand which objects are blocks. They will then need to understand how the blocks need to be put together. They will also need to understand how to accurately stabilize the blocks on top of each other. And so on.
Leap #8: The World of Programs
Your baby will reach developmental leap #8 around the end of the first year. This is also a big shift for parents as they leave infancy behind and enter the joys of toddlerhood. At around week 55, your little one has increasingly more confidence in how they approach, interact with, and understand the world around them. During this leap, your toddler will be putting if-then patterns into action. During this type of exploration, you may notice your new toddler engaging in a lot of exploratory and ‘naughty’ behavior. If I knock over this glass, then its contents will spill. If I pull the dog’s tail, then it will yelp. This can be a crucial time in behavior development when it comes to interacting with parents, too. During this phase, it is important to let your little one explore, but reinforcing negative behavior can lead to years of trouble. Negative associations that are often developed during this time are: tantrums, hitting, fighting bedtime, and finicky eating. To set your toddler up for success, it is important, as a parent, to be clear about boundaries, firm with rules, and consistent with age-appropriate consequences.
Leap 9: The World of Principles
As your toddler grows more confident and observant with their world, you will notice they develop a love for imaginative play. They may babble with their toys (or have their toys babble with each other), or they may imitate interactions they’ve witnessed. One of the most common – and adorable – mimicry that happens around this leap is with pretending to be on the phone. While there are a lot of very cute behaviors your toddler will be engaging in during this phase, it can also be frustrating. This is because your little one is also beginning to experiment with emotions. You may notice an increase in whining, pouting, aggression, and use of the word “no.” These are all normal experiments. It is also when your toddler needs your patience and understanding the most.
Leap #10: The World of Systems
The last and final leap occurs around week 75 (aka 17 months). Your little one has learned a lot over the past year + and now they are going to put it all into practice. During developmental leap #10 your toddler is honing their personality. They better understand how they interact with their world and know they can choose who they want to be in it. Your toddler may choose to be kind and gentle, or they may choose to be rude and aggressive. They are growing their conscience, values, and personality norms.
A word of caution about this phase:
By this point in your parenthood journey you’ve no doubt been told over and over again that you cannot spoil your baby (which is true). It is important for you to understand that, by this point, however, that rule no longer applies. During developmental leap #10, you are helping your toddler put into action everything they’ve learned. They are creating, in those few precious weeks, the value systems that will carry them throughout their entire life. Your job now is to help them navigate. Your best tools for this are patience, understanding, patience, love, and, oh yeah, patience.
If you missed our post on developmental leaps 1-5, you can read them here!