Baby Leaps: Okay, New Mums, What the Hell Does this Even Mean?

Mum Central writer Jenna Galley might be expecting but there’s a whole lot of things she knows she doesn’t know. Like baby leaps…

Confession: I’m lost. I’m 35 weeks pregnant and completely in over my head with this whole ‘new mum’ thing.

First of all. I’m not new. I’m old. I’ve been around the parenthood block twice before. But this time the parenting world is a whole new ballgame.

And one thing I keep hearing come up over and over and over again is the term ‘leap’.

Whenever I hear someone mention something about their baby and a ‘leap’, I smile, nod and pretend I know what the hell they are talking about.

But, truth be told, I have no clue. I assume they mean a milestone? Possibly every month is a new leap? But I could be way off the mark here.

Anyhow, my lack of ‘leap week’ knowledge is starting to get a bit out of hand. I mean, baby girl is coming next month and I better get my sh*t together before I try to talk the leap talk in public.

If you, like me, pretend to understand what a leap is but actually have no effing idea, then read on. Because here’s what we all need to know about baby ‘leaps’ to ensure we don’t look like jackasses in public.

What are baby leaps? What are leap weeks? Please explain.

Bay leaps are stages in bub’s development and are often associated with fussy periods. Experts call them ‘Mental Leaps’ and there are 10 of them.

So when someone says, “My baby is going through Leap 3,” they actually mean, “My baby is acting like a little asshole but it’s because he’s going through a developmental stage”.

Mind. Blown.

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Wonder Weeks – WTF are these?

Oh, but it gets even more intense, guys – I hope you’re taking notes here – because each Mental Leap is also connected to a Wonder Week. Which is another term I’ve heard being tossed around and pretended to understand.

The first Mental Leap, for example, happens at Wonder Week Five, which is just a fancy way of saying, “Five weeks after your due date.”

The last Mental Leap hits around 75 weeks of age (Wonder Week 75). Or, to normal humans who don’t like to overcomplicate things, 17 months.

Anyhow, what are these leaps you ask? Basically, they are periods of extra crying. And extra fussiness. And extra growth. But let’s delve a little deeper, shall we? Here are the experts’ reasons behind the extra tears and broken sleep.

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Mental Leap 1 – Wonder Week 5 –  Sensations

As you can expect, baby is realising that, hey, I’m not in the womb anymore. And he’s probably a bit cranky about it. Experts suggest the first Mental Leap involves a rapid maturation of baby’s metabolism, intestines, and sensory organs. So he’s hungry, poopy and fussy.

Mental Leap 2 – Wonder Week 8 – Patterns

During this week your baby is discovering different patterns and how they relate to the world. He will become fascinated with light, shadows, objects, etc. It can all be too much. Expect tears.

leap weeks

Mental Leap 3 – Wonder Week 12 –  Movements

This leap is characterised by a change in bub’s movements. He’s less jerky in the way he moves around and thus, extra jerky in attitude.

Mental Leap 4 – Wonder Week 19 –  Events

Another leap into developmental understanding of the world, this leap marks baby’s ability to understand the complex theory of cause and effect. Naturally his mind is a little blown by this new concept and he’s probably going to stay awake at night crying about it.

Mental Leap 5 – Wonder Week 26 – Relationships

Bub has discovered that you are, indeed, not attached to each other. And it’s causing some serious concerns. Experts call this “Mental Leap 5”. I call it “Cling Wrap Syndrome”. Same same.

Mental Leap 6 – Wonder Week 37 – Categories

Baby is learning the fine art of categorising. Yes, the art of organisation starts early. Everything is interesting at this stage, except for sleeping. Sleeping just halts the ongoing investigation of specks of dirt and weird objects to put in his mouth.


Mental Leap 7 – Wonder Week 46 – Sequences

Baby is learning about order. Until then he was probably just a little ball of chaos, destroying everything in his path. Well, he’s still going to do that. But he’s also going to discover that you have to do things in a certain order in order to be successful. Naturally this is a tricky thing to master. And will probably end in frustration and fussiness.

Mental Leap 8 – Wonder Week 55 – Programs

Baby is now a toddler and still leaping up a storm. This week he’s learning about programs – patterns of if-then decisions. In other words, If I cry, then mum comes.

Mental Leap 9 – Wonder Week 64 – Principles

This week your toddler will discover a few fun concepts – consequences, preference, independence and resistance. All of which are sure to end in tantrums. Fun times.

Mental Leap 10 – Wonder Week 75 – Systems

The final Mental Leap relates to systems – an understanding that there are procedures and rules to follow and expectations to adhere to. He also learns that it’s possible to completely ignore everything you say and still get away with it, if you let him.

Experts suggest it is during this final week that we need to start to train our toddlers not to be complete assholes. Before this, it wasn’t really their fault – it was the leaps. But, now, it’s time to parent-up.

So there you go – Baby leaps. Explained. And just in time too. Because admitting your baby is being an asshole is so 2010…

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Want to know more about baby leaps? 

There’s actually a whole science around Mental Leaps and Wonder Weeks and, looking back at my first two kids who are now 9 and 6, these leaps make a lot of sense. Both my kids had periods of fussy times but, because I am old, I didn’t track them in a journal or an app (yes you can do this now).

Truth be told, I didn’t really think much of these fussy periods. Instead, I just put it off to them being little jerks, consumed more coffee than usual and waited for their assholeness (aka Mental Leap) to settle.

This time around, it’s nice to know there’s a more polite way to explain why my baby is so fussy, why I am so tired and why I will probably look like death for the next 4-7 days. #blametheleap

Interested in more baby and toddler development? Check out The Best Ever Newborn Baby Reference Guide: Everything You Need to Know and Raising a Toddler? This Toddler Development Guide Should Clear a Few Things Up.

Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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