American parents seem far more obsessed with physical milestones than those of us in Europe. You keep track of the dates when your baby sits, walks, balances on one foot… But there’s more to development than jumping rope. One of the great joys of bringing The Wonder Weeks book to American readers is how it’s helped new parents realize this.

In the Wonder Weeks family, we encourage our readers to notice what we call “leaps” — a phase which starts with brain development and fussy behavior, after which new skills are mastered, discoveries are made, and perceptions evolve. We provide our own gentle checklists that focus on a baby’s interests: How they respond to sounds, what games they enjoy, what fascinates them.

One mom recently told me how The Wonder Weeks completely changed the way she looked at parenting. She had been feeling truly down about her son’s slow start in walking, but then she realized he would crawl to the door when he saw her put on her coat and reach for her purse. He knew they’d be going out without any verbal communication—it was leap 7, the ability to observe and implement “sequences.” His mom was not only relieved, but proud and confident in her son’s abilities.

Every leap in our book offers lists that allow new parents to get to know their babies in special, unique ways. They will choose the things that most suit their inclinations, interests, and physique. There are some babies who specialize in feeling, looking, or gymnastics, and other babies will sample everything, but not elaborate any further. Every baby is unique.

Here are some magical examples:  in your baby’s 4th leap (around 19 weeks), they will discover the “world of events.” Some of the behaviors parent might notice include:

  1. Staring in fascination at “events,” such as hammering, slicing bread, or brushing hair
  2. Staring in fascination at the movements of someone’s lips and tongue when they are talking
  3. Reacting to their own reflection in a mirror; they may be either scared or laugh
  4. Holding a book in their hands and staring at the pictures
  5. Responding to their own name and recognizing other sounds in the room
  6. Stretching out their arms when they want to be picked up
  7. Getting grumpy when becoming impatient

As you can see, these are quite different from the usual milestones.  

Although there are different parenting practices across the world, every parent can embrace stress-free parenting!