I think it’s human nature to be competitive and to compare yourself against others. I know that I thrive on competition – sometimes with others, usually with myself; I continually need to have goals and targets to meet or to better. I’ve mentioned previously that I’ve struggled not having the clear goals a working environment brings during my maternity leave year. As the year has progressed and H has developed and grown, it would be incredibly easy to latch on to her ‘development milestones’ and use those to fuel my need for continual progression. But I’m going against my natural inclinations and trying to not do this because I don’t want to become a goal-driven parent.
Firstly, let me be upfront – I’d be a hypocrite and a liar if I said I have never made comparisons between H and other babies I know. But similarly, through those same observations the obvious has also been clearly demonstrated to me, namely this:
Every baby grows and develops in their own way and at their own rate.
Now sure, there are certain milestones which if not reached by a certain age become “warning signs” to potential issues. But if your baby isn’t crawling by 4 months, walking by 8 months and talking at a year then it’s really no big issue. Every week I get several ‘circulars’ delivered to my inbox from various baby sites. They give me little facts about what my baby might be doing during this week / month of their life. The key word there is might. H didn’t roll until about 7 months and she’s only just started showing interest in being on her front for more than 5 minutes at 8.5 months. But she’s been able to hold her own beaker since she was 6 months old, has been holding her own bottle during milk feeds for at least a month and is generally much more dexterous than her marginally older peers.
I’ve got several mum friends who are desperate for their child to crawl, cut a tooth or grow so fast they need new clothes or a new car seat. I can understand why they do this but having reflected upon it, it’s not for me. If I start watching H simply from the perspective of some set milestones, I’ll miss every other little development that she makes. There is also the risk that the behaviour will also continue in to her older childhood years and I want her to have the freedom to develop as she wants and explore things that interest her.
After all as many a wise person has said, you don’t see teenagers needing to be rocked to sleep, being spoon fed and crawling to school. Everything will happen eventually and if for some reason it doesn’t, that’s why there are professionals there to help!