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Spotting Developmental Leaps in Babies and Toddlers


posted August 22nd 2018

If your grandchild (baby or toddler) wakes up at night and appears over-fussy, extra-clingy, cries for no apparent reason or is constantly hungry or more demanding than normal, it is possible that he/she may be undergoing major mental or physical developmental leaps. Although generally short lived, these changes may be tough on you as a grandparent and other family members. However, they are positive signs that a child’s brain and body are growing and changing and that new skills for further development are on the horizon.

Developmental leaps usually occur in predicable spurts. At three weeks for instance, you may notice that your grandchild becomes more interested in new sounds and the world around him/her. At six weeks, they may track your movements when you walk around the room, swipe at toys on their play gym, smile and make throaty gurgles during playful interactions with you. At 12 weeks, they may babble excitedly when a toy has been grasped and brought to their mouth.

At four months, your baby grandchild may roll from tummy to back and at six months, sit upright without your help. At nine months, children may clap, wave and show the first signs of learning to crawl; at 13 months, they may be walking too. These developmental leaps can also be evident by increased head circumference; the result of massive brain cell growth and the formation of synaptic connections between them.

When your grandchild starts to walk, they officially become a toddler and a whole new world of learning opens up. The next major developmental leap at 18 months results in a roller coaster of events from running around the house, to climbing on and off the furniture and generally making a mess! Your toddling grandchild simply cannot help his/herself! They are creative, curious, imaginative, busy little people who enjoy exploration and new challenges. However, tantrums and rapid mood swings are common because your toddler’s brain has not matured sufficiently to allow them to effectively communicate their needs or emotions.

Towards the end of their second year, your grandchild will gain better control of their body due to the massive development of brain cells that regulate and control fine movements, balance and posture. Their energy is relentless and they can’t keep still for more than a few moments unless they are fully absorbed in an activity. You’ll need to wait until the next major developmental leap at three years, before your toddler gains better control of their emotions, expresses his/herself better verbally and learns to keep still for more than two minutes!

All children undergo development leaps, but the timings may vary depending on nature, nurture and other factors. Rest assured that once a developmental leap is completed, your grandchild (whether a baby or toddler) will sleep better, become less fussy or demanding and you can get your life back to some kind of normality; until the next development leap, that is!

By Dr Lin Day, co-founder of Baby Sensory and Toddler Sense (

Find our more about Dr Lin Day by visiting our Community Page.

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