“Oh! You know my baby would form an ‘O’ with her mouth when I said ‘Ooo’ to her as a 15 day old”
“My child is always a front runner. She started crawling at 5 months!”
“Oh! He took to walking at 7 months. No crawling business for him!”
“She smiled when she was just 2 weeks old. She is so social!”
Milestones! It’s like a race for most parents and especially grandparents. The faster a child reaches a milestone, he is the smarter human being. He is suddenly catapulted to higher intelligence strata. This I can understand. It’s a proud moment for a new parent or a grandparent as a child does these little things. I mostly love hearing these dialogues from wide-eyed parents filled with immense love for their children.
But then when I hear the following:
“Oh! She isn’t responding yet! Show her to the doctor for some syndrome!” – (referring a 7 day old child)
“It’s like 4 months and she isn’t showing any interest to turn over. Most children do it by 4 months, a! But its okay, some are slow”
“He isn’t walking still. Its 14 months! Try putting him in a walker, a!”
I start to loose my patience. Most people are very ignorant as far as milestones are concerned. They have no clue that there is a huge variation and a long time span within which each milestone can be hit and is considered normal.
Even when we have so much information in our hand, the moment someone comments on the age and the appropriate milestone that should have been hit by now, the paranoia kicks in. Weight gain, grasping toys, rolling over, eating solids, night feeds, no night feeds, and the list has no end.
So when, a parent automatically gets bragging rights if their infant turns over at 2 months, a parent whose pudgy little one refuses even to think about it at 4 months turns frantically over to the famous Google for something that could be wrong.
I admit being a parent of a late bloomer. She hits every milestone after carefully passing the said age for it. She took her own sweet time. She preferred mastering the technique rather than getting into it head-on. She turned over at 5 months, started crawling or creeping at 8 months and walked at 15.5 months. She gave all the “masala” for people to point out the milestones not achieved yet.
But she gave me no reason for being anxious. She was growing up and I could see her developing skills day by day. Her personality is such that she spends hours perfecting a skill. I remember when she first learned how to grab a ball and throw; she did that for the next one month continuously.
Every little baby is different. There are no set golden rules on how a baby should develop.
Most of us are familiar with the newsletter, that we all signup for, as pregnant mothers. These newsletters come in every week and then every month telling us what the child should be doing by now. Wow! If this doesn’t raise parental anxiousness, what will?
There is this famous fact – that Einstein didn’t start talking till he was 4 years old. I am sure he was rendered to be a dumb baby by many. But the history tells us so much different. So it shouldn’t really matter much if your baby is still at ‘mamma, dada’ monosyllables at 1.
I am not recommending to ignore the milestones completely. Obviously not. I say, treat your child as a unique individual. Monitoring whether they are growing well is important. But not comparing them with other children or succumbing to social pressures.
Also, I suggest not gloating too much about an early milestone hit with your baby in front of other new parents. It is one thing being proud and excited but it’s a blessing. Keep in mind that our children reaching milestones normally is a blessing but bragging about it to a hapless parent is not helping him/her at all.
What is your view on Milestone paranoia and the competitiveness surrounding milestones?
An erstwhile Quality Analyst, Sirisha Achanta, is now a full-time mommy to an adorable 2-year-old girl and a part-time writer. 🙂 She loves to dance, dream and read a lot!