Baby Milestones: Stop Comparing Your Child to Others
If we’re being honest with ourselves, all parents have come across at least one brilliant, overachieving baby who can speak multiple languages, turn cartwheels and do long division – or so it seems. I distinctly remember when I met a mom with a genius baby. Her eight-month-old was excitedly swapping high fives with every parent in sight. I also had an eight-month-old who, unlike his tiny Einstein-esque peer, was an unimpressed spectator, watching the action but partaking in none of it. I immediately felt a sense of gut-wrenching fear that my child might not excel, might be behind the curve, or might not ever hit that baby-waving milestone! More than five years have passed since then and hindsight has taught me to relax and allow my children to set their own pace, no matter what milestone may be on the horizon.
There are a million reasons why you shouldn’t compare your baby to someone else’s, but I’ll break down a few, with the help of the experts:
Development is not ‘one size fits all’
Anyone who has a child, or multiple children, understands how varied development can be. Whether it’s rolling over, sitting up or crawling, babies progress at different rates. It may be true that most babies learn to walk when they’re around a year old, but that varies too. Both of my children were early walkers. We didn’t buy them top-of-the-line walking shoes. We didn’t hold them upright and practice 24/7. They developed at their own pace. When it came to uttering those highly anticipated first words, our daughter was more advanced than our son. We interacted with both of our children equally, but again, they graduated from gibberish to real words when THEY were ready. While you can help influence baby’s fine and gross motor skills, not every child will be running by their first birthday, or reciting the alphabet before preschool.
The baby milestone fixation
Baby developmental milestones should be used as guidelines. While important for baby’s development, these milestones offer a wide range of what’s considered to be ‘normal’. For instance, by one month, your baby is expected to smile. If your wee one hits that mark by five or six weeks instead of four, that’s OK. As a first-time mom, I became obsessed over what my first-born was accomplishing and whether or not he was hitting milestones on point. I now realize it only caused me undue stress and worry. Try not to lose sleep over the thought of milestone charts, especially when you’re probably already sleep-deprived.
Trust your instincts
If you find yourself nervously waiting for your baby to roll over, crawl, or flash you a gummy smile, it’s important to relax and enjoy watching your little one explore and develop. It’s also important to listen to your gut if you truly feel your child isn’t meeting expectations as he or she progresses. Your doctor or pediatrician will be able to better assess your baby. And if you can avoid it, stay away from “Dr. Google”. It will likely send you into a tailspin of unnecessary panic.
Don’t compare siblings
Parents of multiple children understand how different sibling personalities can be. In our particular case, we have an unpretentious, mild-mannered critical-thinker and a Type A, spirited social butterfly. It’s natural to want to compare the progress of your children, but experts warn doing so may have detrimental psychological effects like feeling inferior or superior to their siblings. Allowing your children to develop on their own timelines will allow them to embrace individuality and boost their confidence.
From the precious baby stage, to preschooler, to adolescence and beyond, there are many new and exciting developmental phases. So take a deep breath and enjoy watching your child conquer whichever milestone may be next!