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2023 Author: Benjamin Dyson | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 01:37
The first year of a child's life is full of phases and challenges. During this period, the baby tends to go through 4 developmental crises: at 3, 6, 8 and at 12 months.
These crises are part of the child's normal development and are related to some "mental leaps", that is, moments when the baby's mind develops quickly, being marked by some behavioral changes. Generally, in these crises babies are more difficult, cry more, get angry more easily and become more needy.
Understand the baby's crises during the first year of life and what can be done in each of them. It is important to remember that each family has its structure, characteristics and possibilities and, therefore, must be adapted accordingly.
3 month crisis
This crisis happens because until that moment, for the baby, he and the mother are a single person, as if it were a pregnancy outside the womb. This phase can also be described as a second birth, the first, biological, was on the day of delivery and with the arrival of 3 months, the psychological birth takes place. At this stage, the baby begins to interact more, to look into the eyes, imitate gestures, play and complain.
The 3-month crisis happens precisely because the child has the perception that he is no longer trapped in the mother, understands that he is not part of her, sees her as another being and needs to call her to have what he needs, which can generate anxiety in the baby, which can be perceived by more moments of crying. This crisis lasts, on average, 15 days and has some striking signs such as:
- Change in feedings: it is common for the mother to feel that the baby does not want to breastfeed and that her breast is not as full as it used to be. But what happens is that the baby is already able to suck the breast better and empty it more quickly, reducing the time of feedings to 3 to 5 minutes. In addition, the breast no longer leaves as much milk in stock, producing at the moment and according to demand. At this stage, many mothers start supplementation because they think they are not offering enough milk for the child, which leads to a lack of stimulation and thus to early weaning.
- Changes in behavior and sleep: the baby at this stage tends to wake up more often during the night, a fact that many mothers associate with the change in feedings and understand that it is hunger. Therefore, when the child cries, the mother offers him the breast, when he tries to let go, the child cries and the two of them go back and forth, this happens because the baby breastfeeds even when he is not hungry, because he feels safe with the mother, as when he understood that the two were one.
As this is the moment when the baby begins to discover the world, he becomes more active and his vision improves, everything is new and a reason for agitation and he already understands that when he cries his needs will be met, generating anxiety and sometimes irritability.
What to do
Considering that it is a completely normal adjustment phase of development and very important for growth, parents should try to stay calm and maintain a peaceful environment to help the baby go through this, as in a few days the routine will return to normal. The child should not be medicated at this stage.
The mother is advised to insist on breastfeeding because her body is capable of producing the necessary amount of milk that the child needs. Therefore, if the baby's latch is correct and the breasts do not hurt or have cracks, there is no indication that the baby is breastfeeding poorly and, therefore, breastfeeding should not be stopped. A point to be noted is that at this stage the child is more easily distracted, so seeking to breastfeed in quiet places can help.
Other methods that can help during this crisis include holding the baby a lot and applying the kangaroo method, telling stories showing colorful drawings in books, among other actions that demonstrate contact and attention. See here what the Kangaroo Method is and how to do it.
6 month crisis
Between 5 and 6 months of age, the family triangle is formed and it is at this moment that the child realizes that there is a father figure. As much as the father is active from birth, the baby's relationship does not have the same meaning as the mother, and it is only around six months of age that this recognition takes place, and then the crisis begins.
The signs of crisis are excessive crying, changes in sleep and mood, the child does not have much appetite and may become more needy and irritable. To confuse a little, the beginning of the birth of teeth often happens in this period and the two phases can be confused, since teething also causes discomfort and the child can become more agitated and irritated, in addition to being able to cause diarrhea and even fever. See the symptoms of the birth of the first teeth.
The 6-month crisis also happens to the mother and often affects her more than the child itself, who must deal with the father's entry into the relationship and, often, it is during this period that many women return to work, intensifying the crisis.
What to do
This is the time for the mother to give space and for the father to be present in the child's life, in addition to supporting and helping the mother. The mother must police herself not to feel guilt or jealousy, as she needs to increase the baby's network of contacts. Still, according to some experts, the baby's adaptation to daycare is easier if done before 8 months, since in this period she still doesn't feel the absence of her parents so much. Check out more about the development of a 6 month old baby.
8 month crisis
In some children this crisis can happen as early as the 6th month or for others in the 9th, but it usually happens in the 8th month and is considered the crisis of separation, anguish or fear of strangers, where the baby's personality can change a lot.
This crisis lasts the longest, about 3 to 4 weeks and happens because the baby starts to be separated from the mother more often and, in his head, he understands that she will not come back, leading to the feeling of abandonment. There is a strong break in the sleep pattern in this crisis, the child wakes up all night and wakes up scared and crying intensely. The other signs include restlessness and loss of desire to eat, which are more intense than in other attacks. However, as this phase depends on the personality of each child, it is also common for some babies to go through the crisis calmly.
What to do
Many couples take their child to sleep in the same bed with them, but this practice is not ideal because parents do not sleep peacefully for fear of hurting the child. When the child has a crying crisis at night, it is preferable for the mother to calm the child, because when the mother leaves, the child has the thought that she will never come back. This helps her to understand that the mother's presence can be followed by absences.
Furthermore, at this stage the child can get attached to an object defined by him/herself, which is important because it represents the mother figure and helps her to realize that, as the object does not disappear, the mother, even if it is absent, it will not disappear. Still, another tip is that the mother always hugs the object and then leaves it with the child, so that she can smell the mother and not feel helpless.
As in the other phases, it is important to give affection and attention to the child to reassure him of his anguish, in addition to always saying goodbye to the baby to make it clearer that he will return and he will not be abandoned. A good example of play at this stage is hide and seek.
12 month crisis
This is the stage where the child begins to take his first steps and, therefore, wants to discover the world and be more independent. However, she continues to be dependent and in great need of her parents. The crisis happens precisely because of this.
The main signs of this crisis are irritation and crying, especially when the child wants to reach an object or move somewhere and cannot. It is also common that the baby does not want to eat and cannot sleep properly.
What to do
As for the beginning of the walking process, parents should encourage the child to move, support, accompany and give support, but never force it, as the child will start to walk when he thinks he can and when the brain and the little legs cooperate. Even so, sometimes the child wants to and cannot, which makes him distressed. It is recommended that the environment be he althy, welcoming and peaceful, and even though this phase can be a little difficult, it is remarkable and very significant.
Also, the more support and protection the child receives in this separation phase, the better he is likely to cope with it.