When your babies miss their milestones

It's important not to compare your baby to others.
It's important not to compare your baby to others. Photo: Greg Benz

Babies grow at different rates. They're all wonderful little creatures who do things in their own time.

Some parents take a lot of joy from encouraging their wee ones to learn new skills and are filled with pride when their offspring are ahead of their peers in their development.

The internet is brimming with milestone calendars telling us when babies should have gained certain abilities, such as crawling and walking. Although they can be an interesting read, more often they cause a lot of unnecessary worry.

I have twins, and my daily goal is survival. I don't really have time to focus on what my children should be able to do at a certain age. But even still, I'm not immune to being a bit concerned sometimes.

My girls were born almost six weeks early, weighing only about 1.8kgs each. In the 11 months since then, they're now heavier than pretty much all others their age and are big, healthy 97 percentile babies.

While most babies start to crawl somewhere between 6 and 10 months old, my daughters tend to sit like little buddhas smack bang in the middle of the playmat. Babies literally half their size crawl nimbly around them. They have officially missed the milestone boat.

I really appreciated them just sitting there happily, and not crawling early has made my life much easier. But now that they're approaching their first birthday it's hard to not to start worrying a bit.

OTHER PARENTS CAN BE THE WORST

It's the worst when other parents think they have to offer their opinion, and ask things like "How old are your daughters?" "Eleven months? Why aren't they crawling yet? My son/daughter was pretty much running marathons at that age".

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I'd like to counter with something like: "Because they're super smart and have figured out there aren't any benefits in early crawling if you have a sister for entertainment and a mum who caters to my needs". But I just end up mumbling something like "Premmie twins, I don't know... they'll get there."

I guess the truth is that they always hated tummy time and that it's a damn sight harder to move 11 kilos off the ground than it is to move 7. But most importantly, I have to remind myself that it doesn't matter.

Children learn best when they can develop at their own pace, and almost all children learn to walk eventually.

STOP COMPARING

Raising children shouldn't feel like a competition, with parents pitted against each other, trying to ace each other with the smartest and fastest baby. It's only natural to be proud of our children's progress. We all want to make sure that they're thriving and that there's nothing preventing their development.

But sometimes we have to step back and let them do their thing. Stop comparing, stop commenting on other children, and stop worrying so much.

If you're really concerned though, get in touch with your early childhood nurse or GP. There are cases when something more serious can cause developmental delays or where an occupational therapist can help.

I'm sure my two bonny lasses will start crawling soon, and once they're on the move I'll miss the times when I could put them down on the floor while I went to the toilet knowing that they would be exactly where I left them.

Jule Scherer shares her first steps as a mum of twin girls weekly. Follow her on Facebook.

 Stuff.co.nz