Any links to Amazon are affiliate links.
Everything You Need To Know About Wonder Week 19. What is wonder week 19, or leap 4. How to help baby through wonder week 19. What baby learns during wonder week 19 and what to expect.
It did not take long after starting this blog for me to quickly realize a common time period babies were having troubles with sleep. I got an overwhelming number of questions from worried parents about their baby’s sleep all of a sudden regressing right around four months old. In fact, the first time I wrote a post on it was two months after starting this blog.
I did some polls to try to figure out why some babies would be having issues while others would not. I came up with some theories as to why problems might be happening. It wasn’t until my third child was a baby that the term “Wonder Weeks” first came to my knowledge. Wonder Weeks, by Frans X. Plooij and Hetty van de Rijt, was first published in 1992, yet I hadn’t heard of it until 2009. The power of the Internet and moms groups introduced it to me.
This book talks about time periods in your baby’s life when your baby is developing new skills, called leaps. These periods are marked with fussiness, clingyness, crying, poor eating, and poor sleep. The Wonder Weeks tells you when to expect these leaps, what skills are being developed during the leaps, things you can do to help baby get through each leap, and how long each leap will last.
Guess when the biggest, baddest leap of all is?
Four months old. This is also known as Wonder Week 19, or Leap 4.
In this post, I am sharing everything you need to know about this wonder week leap so you can help baby get through this sleep regression as smoothly as possible.
Wonder Week 19: The World of Events
Something very interesting about each Wonder Week fussy period is that the reason for the fussiness in your baby is that he/she is developing new skills that are changing baby’s world. This is a time of rapid change and it can leave baby a bit unsettled. The neat thing is that at the end of the leap, baby will have new skills, abilities, and understandings. The hard thing is that baby will likely be fussy while the changes are taking place. Here is a note about Leap 4.
“At around 19 weeks (or between 18 and 20 weeks), their ability to understand the world around them becomes far more developed and a little more like our own. They will begin to experiment with events.” Wonder Weeks
An “event” is something that happens in life that is made of a series of events even though it looks smooth. Transitions become smooth. This smooth transition is changed in all of the five senses.
Get your copy of The Wonder Weeks here. (affiliate link)
Wonder Week 19 Time Frame
Wonder Week 19 starts between 14 and 17 weeks old. This leap is the longest and most impactful of them all for most babies. The age is calculated from the birth date if baby was born at full-term gestation. This fussy period typically lasts through week 19. Between weeks 20-22, you should be back to calm.
The reason this leap is much longer than any other leap had been before is that baby’s skills are now more complicated to learn. They take more time.
Skills Baby Develops During Leap 4
During leap four, your baby will develop these skills:
- Understanding objects exist even when we do not see them
- Changes in the way baby sees, hears, smells, tastes, and feels
- Better control of the body, especially arms, hands, and fingers. This is the age when baby can start holding toys and transfer them from hand to hand. Baby will probably love to practice that skill. Baby will also start to grab at things, so gone are the days of holding baby on your lap while you eat dinner unless you are okay with baby’s hands getting in your food and grabbing the table cloth. I remember one day one of my baby’s making a grab for a sharp knife on the table (luckily she missed!). Knowing this skill is coming helps you prevent your baby from grabbing at things you don’t want her to). Baby will also grab at your face. Note that if baby’s grabbing is painful, or if it will be painful as baby ages, it is okay to gently remove baby’ and and tell her not to do it. You don’t have to let a baby pull your hair.
- Along this skill, baby will start to shake, bang, and throw things.
- Rolling is a possible skill during this leap, but this can also come in future moths.
- Increased verbal activity. Baby will change the way she babbles.
- Ability to recognize differences in voices.
- Attempts at crawling. This might not happen right at this age and might come later.
- Sitting up. Again, the level of ability may change in later months.
- Putting objects baby is holding into her mouth.
- Look for objects hidden (covered by a cloth).
- Recognize own name. Baby can also understand one or more other words.
All of these things can lead to fussiness. A baby might get upset realizing mom exists but has left. A baby might have complete sensory overload as the five senses change.
Always remember that with new skills, baby’s focus on different categories. So one baby might focus on physical skills while another focuses on verbals skills first. Watch for the variety and accept the small, less noticeable skills. Do not just focus on gross motor skills.
Difficulties You Might Notice in Baby During Wonder Week 19
During this week, you might notice these things in baby:
- Trouble Sleeping. I start with this one because it is the most noticeable of all of the troubles with Babywise moms. The baby who was sleeping perfectly suddenly starts taking short naps and/or waking up in the night.
- Clinging to mom. Your baby might only be happy with mom and might want to be held more than usual.
- Crying easily. Your baby will probably cry more easily and seem more sensitive. You will probably find your baby will cry less when you are holding them if you focus on them fully (I am not making this recommendation, just an observation. Five weeks is a long time to hold baby all day and give her your full attention).
- Shyness. Your baby may start start to be shy toward strangers.
- Demanding Attention. Your baby may start to demand attention and full time. They will want to be with you at all times. Your baby may also seem to have a shorter attention span and need a change of scenery more often.
- Decreased Appetite. Your baby may not be as interested in food or eat less food than usual.
- Mood Sings. Your baby may be on a roller coaster ride of moods, with happiness one minute and crying the next.
- Increased Sucking. Your baby might start sucking on thumb, pacifier, blanket, etc. more than before.
How to Help Baby Through This Leap
There are some things you can do to help baby through this stage with more grace.
- Get some toys if baby doesn’t have any. Baby hasn’t really played with toys yet. Some baby toys can be just what baby needs to practice new skills.
- Give baby a variety of objects. Give baby toys of different shapes and different textures.
- Get a book or two baby can hold and manipulate. Soft books or water-proof books cannot be ripped or ruined. They also are okay for baby to put in his mouth.
- Give baby a variety of experiences to observe. These don’t need to be huge. Watching cars drive by outside might be enough. Baby might like to sit in an exersaucer out in the high traffic areas of the household and watch the family go about their business.
- Help them practice the skills they are interested in. Do not force skills your baby is not focusing on.
- Show baby how to do skills he is working on if he can’t quite get it right. You can show baby and/or move baby through the motions.
- Play peek-a-boo to help teach object permanence.
Do Not Change Things Up
If your baby has sleep difficulties during this time period, my number one piece of advice is do not start changing things up. A Wonder Week is similar to Witching Hour. Read all about Witching Hour here.
During Witching Hour, you basically do what you need to get baby to sleep. The “bad habits” it might seem you are starting are not remembered by baby. Fussiness during a Wonder Week is similar. Sometimes, Wonder Weeks are times to go into survival mode.
If a baby is sleeping poorly because of the Wonder Week, then no amount of changing the schedule, changing waketime length, dropping naps, feeding more, etc. is going to change that poor sleep because you cannot change the Wonder Week from happening.
What you can do is help baby through the Wonder Week as discussed above.
If you really feel like something needs to change, change one thing at a time and give it a week before changing something different. Write down everything as it is before you make changes (do not rely on your memory!) so you can go back to the way things were if your change isn’t working.
If baby wakes up early from nap and you are sure baby isn’t hungry, feel free to try to help baby fall back asleep during this Wonder Week time.
I know this Wonder Week can be long and exhausting. For most babies, it is by far the worst one baby will go through. It is a hard time for baby and therefore a hard time for you. Have patience as best you can.
Clear your schedule and to-do list as much as possible so you do not feel so frustrated by the lack of time you have with baby needing more focus and taking shorter naps. Once this leap is over, baby will be in great spirits! Baby will also have new skills that are so much fun!
Related Wonder Week 19 Posts on This Blog
- Wonder Weeks
- Book Suggestion: The Wonder Weeks
- Baby Whisperer: 4 Month Old Changes
- How to Solve Baby’s 4 Month Sleep Problems