Sophie is still not walking. Still not meeting one of those important milestones.
I say that in a rather sarcastic tone as it’s probably the question I am asked most often by friends and family. And strangers. And their dogs.
Jeez people like to know things don’t they.
Can you feel a rant coming on?
I suppose if my little cherub had pushed up onto her roly poly legs and set off round the room at nine months (I am constantly reminded that her brother did just this) then I might feel less touchy about the subject. But she didn’t and she hasn’t.
Sophie is, at the time of writing, 15 months old and not walking independently. She can trot round with her walker and those of you who have been following my Insta stories will know she can bum shuffle at a rate of knots!
I’m ok with that and more importantly, so is she.
A quick poll of my friends and family shows that there is a very large range of “normal” for a baby’s first steps and she is well within that range.
But what I’m not ok with is the fact that babies are subjected to milestone achievements from the minute they pop (I had to cross my legs as I wrote that) into the world. Nobody is sent home with a book telling you how to raise your children and yet the rules are there hanging over your sleep deprived head right from the start.
Your baby should be feeding every two hours.
Your baby should be smiling by six weeks old.
Your baby should be able to bang two blocks together by six months.
Your baby should not eat a smidge of solids until they hit six months old at which point you must immediately introduce them to a full roast dinner (organic natch), which they must feed themselves.
Ok, I might have made that last one up but you get the point. Not only as babies but you find these fictional milestones continue right through childhood.
Your two year old must be able to copy you when you draw a circle (WTF!)
Your child should be dry at night by now.
Your child should not be using a pushchair – they’re TOO old.
Blah blah blah.
Obviously these milestones were originally designed to reassure anxious parents that their children were developing in a healthy manner and to make sure that children who need extra help or support don’t slip through the net. However, the reality is that the pressure to meet said milestones is actually creating extra anxiety and being cheerfully wielded by the Comparimummies as weapons of one uppmanship.
How many times have you been to a baby group *shudders* in a poky church hall and been greeted (if you’re lucky) with the opening gambit of “is he/she sleeping through the night yet?” or something similar? You then spend the next hour in a battle of polite comparisons in some sort of odd mummy mating dance. Comparethemummy.com and it’s really anything but simples. It’s complicated, it’s a minefield of saying or not saying the right thing and its often judgement filled.
If you aren’t as thick skinned as me (think rhino hide) then you might end up leaving feeling really anxious about the development of your cherub when the reality is, everything is totally fine. Similarly, when everywhere you go you are asked by friends, relations and countrymen whether your beloved baby has met said milestone, it can leave you second guessing whether in fact maybe there IS something wrong.
More often than not, there isn’t. Your instinct as a mother is extremely powerful so if you know everything is fine then it most likely is. Your GP is the place to go with real and relevant concerns but you know that already.
So I suppose my point to this post is to say that if you’re baby hasn’t met one of these fictional milestones and you know as their mother, that he/she is developing just fine – trust your gut, ignore the comparimummies and well meaning nosey parkers and don’t sweat it.
Your baby hasn’t read the rule book. And you know what? They probably never will.