Wonder Week 5: The World of Changing Sensations (Leap 1)

Wonder Week 5: The World of Changing Sensations (Leap 1)

Around five weeks after her due date, your baby will take a big step forward in her mental development – Wonder Week 5 – which is the very first leap of the Wonder Weeks.

Coming out of her newborn bubble, she becomes more aware of the things around, and inside, her body – things she can experience through her brand new senses.

Touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight will each bring her new experiences as she fine-tunes the primitive senses she was born with.

It will take her a day or more to adjust to the changes. During this time, she might seem extra fussy or sensitive. Whether it’s the feeling of the air on her skin, or the sensation of her digestive tract at work, her heightened senses might feel a little overwhelmed at first, and she will need time to assimilate.

The common responses to leaps in development are known as The Three Cs – Clinginess, Crankiness and Crying. They recur consistently throughout the Wonder Weeks, and help your baby communicate her extra need for comfort and connection at these times.

What Your Baby Needs During Wonder Week 5

Your 5 week old baby will probably cry more than usual around this time. You might be worried that her crying is a sign you don’t have enough milk, or her formula doesn’t agree with her.

It is important to rule out possible causes for increased crying, but it helps to know that periods of crying tend to peak around six weeks of age and gradually decrease by around 12 weeks.

Skin-to-skin contact, baby massage, and babywearing are all ways you can comfort and support your baby during this period. As she processes the changes in how she experiences everything, your reassuring touch, rhythmic movement, and close contact will help her adjust.

What Your Baby is Learning During Wonder Week 5

In the womb, your baby gently practised using her five senses: tasting the amniotic fluid (and experiencing its distinctive scent); feeling the umbilical cord brush against her body; hearing the sounds of her parents talking; and seeing the changes from light to dark filtered through her mother’s body.

In the first weeks after birth, the sensations of life outside the womb gradually become familiar. Her breath as she draws it in and out of her lungs. The warmth of milk entering her mouth and stomach. The movements of her bowel. The beating of her heart. Feeling the reflexive movements of her limbs.

Hands, cloth and water touch her body. Unexpected sounds reach her ears. Light, of varying brightness, hits her eyes. Movement changes her perspective, as her body is transported through the various stages of the day.

Your baby is fine tuning all of her senses, processing the information her brain receives from them, and learning how to respond. There is so much to learn about using her body and brain together, as a feedback system she will rely on for the rest of her life.

What You Can Do To Help

Your baby might be over-stimulated at times. As she experiences everything at a higher level, watch for signs when it all becomes overwhelming. Louder noises, brighter lights, extra touch, even stronger aromas, might be too much.

Be ready to help her retreat from the world, to a quieter space, a darker room, or back to your chest, away from loving hands. Allow her access to the breast whenever she shows signs. As well as food and drink, breastfeeding represents relaxation and calm. Your milk will lull her to sleep, and give her space, as she processes new experiences.

After The Leap

Around this time, babies often begin to smile in response to familiar faces. If you have been practising baby massage since your baby was born, you might notice she is less startled when you touch her. When you play music, or sing, or when other sounds catch her attention, you might observe her listening.

She might spend more time with her eyes open now, and begin to show interest in mobiles or other toys placed within her sight. As she assembles the new functions of her brain into tools she can use to explore the world, she awakens a little more to what is happening around her.

Recommended Reading: Follow along with our baby week by week series, which will be welcome relief to your sanity levels! We also recommend owning a copy of the Wonder Weeks book. It has a really helpful chart, which you can photocopy and stick to your fridge. It shows you a timeline of when to expect the sunny weeks and the cloudy weeks – so you can quickly identify the reason behind changes in your baby’s behaviour.

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Yvette O'Dowd has been a breastfeeding counsellor and educator since 1992. She has three adult children and a two year old granddaughter - the best sort of bonus baby! Yvette runs a popular natural parenting network, is a babywearing educator, and runs antenatal breastfeeding classes for parents expecting twins and more! She is a keen photographer and scrap-booker and a keeper of a fairy garden.

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