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Milestone bragging and why it doesn't mean a thing

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#1 AmityD

Posted 19 September 2012 - 10:37 PM

My first-born rolled at 5 weeks. One day during tummy time he threw his head to the side, cocked his leg and flipped over. I thought it was a funny trick, but one he was unlikely to repeat, after my early childhood trained mum informed me that no child could properly roll at 5 weeks. However, much to our surprise (and my delight) he did it again. And again, until he was doing it all the time and thus become the baby who could roll at 5 weeks, giving him a great party trick and his mother something to feel very proud about.

I admit, I was quietly chuffed that my very clever baby could roll weeks, if not months, before other babies. Clearly he was an advanced physical specimen who would go on to be an elite athlete, achieving all his milestones early and being accepted into the gifted program at school.

Ah...no. In the months that followed my lovely boy crawled slightly ahead of schedule, sat up slightly behind schedule and took his first steps bang on average. Now at 6, he wins some races, loses some races and overall is a beautifully average kid.

Which makes me look back on all the emphasis I placed on his rolling milestone and laugh. And I was reminded of this when my sister rang me the other day, after a mothers group catch up with her first-born.

‘All the other babies are sleeping longer than my baby,’ she said in a worried tone. ’And some of them are eating meat. I’m only feeding him vegies, is he behind because he hasn’t had meat? He is grabbing things and hitting other milestones that some of the others haven’t…’ She went on to ramble a few other concerns and ended with, ‘Did you sometimes compare your baby to other babies and wonder if they were doing what they should be?’

Um…of course. That’s what mothers do!

But new mothers everywhere I am here to let you in on a little secret…none of it matters. In the vast majority of cases, your baby will sit, crawl, walk, eat, talk, sleep through the night, use the toilet, drink from a cup, stop sucking their dummy and start school with the rest of their peers - and no one will ask you how old they were when they rolled the first time.

Now I realise some children will struggle with some of these milestones and unfortunately some of them will have developmental and behavioural difficulties that will cause stress and anguish for their parents, and I’m not being flippant about that.

What I am talking about is all the little things that worry first time parents no end and the way we compare our baby to other babies, only to realise with time and subsequent children that we worried a lot more than we needed to.

Like when they sprout teeth. I kept a record of all my first-born’s growing teeth, comparing him to the average and even to my own baby book (yep, I was a first born!) yet I didn’t document a single one of my second child’s chompers. I knew they’d come when they were ready and the time and order of them wouldn’t affect her or my life one bit. I weighed my first baby religiously and noted his progress in his blue book growth chart. My daughter looked like she was getting bigger and was certainly growing out of clothes – so that was enough for me.

I’m pretty sure this is something we all do and it’s not going to change. When all a baby does is lie motionless for the first few weeks any tiny bit of progress is cause for celebration and documentation. And of course we want to know our baby is normal, healthy and on track, so we compare them to other babies for reassurance. But we usually learn down the track that they all do things in their own time, and almost always catch up in the end.

A friend of mine’s children didn’t walk til they were over 18 months. With the first she worried about it incessantly, comparing her son to others his age who were now running. Until one day he stood up and started walking as if he’d been planning it all along. So when her daughter did the same thing she reassured anyone who mentioned it that ‘She’ll walk when she’s ready,’ which is exactly what she did.

Some kids talk early, others take their time. Some toilet train with ease, others make their parents feel as though they will never get it. But you know what, they  all eventually do.

So when you are comparing your baby or toddler to others and worrying whether they are hitting their milestones or sitting at average on the growth chart, or doing what your mothers group babies are doing, remind yourselves that there is wide range on the chart for a reason. If you are really worried seek advice from your GP or child health nurse. Otherwise, relax and reassure yourself that they will all reach them in their own times. And that no one changed the world by rolling early.  wink.gif

Did you worry about your baby reaching their milestones or fitting within the growth charts? Do you compare your baby to others around you and does it worry you or have you ever been guilty of milestone bragging?!

#2 liveworkplay

Posted 19 September 2012 - 10:56 PM

Did you worry about your baby reaching their milestones or fitting within the growth charts? Do you compare your baby to others around you and does it worry you or have you ever been guilty of milestone bragging?!

Nope!  My first born had DHD and was in a brace for the first few months of her life. I had no idea what normal should be. She was also feather light and giant tall, but again, my MCHN didn't indicate a problem, so I was blissfully unaware that this was considered a no no by a lot of people.  When it cam to number 2 and certainly number 3, I had much better things to occupy my mind

Now the eldest two are at school, I often get chastised by friends that I do not seem proud of my girls achievements because I never boast about them. I have a particularly competitive friend (by her own admission) who gets exasperated by me and has taken to bragging about my kids  for me laughing2.gif

But I'm an odd one as I do not get the whole "mother guilt" thing either ninja.gif

Edited by liveworkplay, 19 September 2012 - 10:57 PM.

#3 ZCE

Posted 19 September 2012 - 11:05 PM

Nope. I remember that they're little people and entirely different so will achieve different milestones at different times. Thankfully my mum's group is full of like-minded people who don't buy into the 'my child rolled first' stupidity.

#4 Tigster

Posted 20 September 2012 - 12:29 PM

I have a very dear friend who still compares her first borns achievements to all of the other kids around the same age. (he is 4 in a week) Of course to her he is a genius who is going to achieve great things, to everyone else he seems like any 4 year old. Super competitive and little blind to the obvious but we still love her.

I used to compare DS1 to the other babies in my mothers group but since DS2 has come along I just don't have the time (or energy).

#5 Mrs Dinosaurus

Posted 20 September 2012 - 05:54 PM

Comparison has never been an issue here, what I really came in to saw was:

How adorable is the baby in the file photo?


#6 Fourteenyears

Posted 20 September 2012 - 06:11 PM

I don't mind listening to fond parents doing a bit of milestone bragging.  In a first time parent, it's frequently just delight in the journey of discovery.  Of course it's fabulous that five week old Johnny is rolling.  He's so cute!  It's so clever!  Doesn't matter that many babies have been there before - it's the first time for Johnny and his parents.

I've probably even engaged in it a little myself with my second child.  After my first child's massive struggle with fine motor issues, my second seems like a miniature Monet in comparison.  I mention it with great excitement because it's so stonkingly, relievingly normal.

Some kids talk early, others take their time. Some toilet train with ease, others make their parents feel as though they will never get it. But you know what, they all eventually do.

No they don't, and of course that is why so many first time parents worry.  Each milestone reached is one less thing to worry about.  And each milestone that is late is an ongoing balancing act between the wait-and-see ("you know what, they all eventually do") approach, and wondering if you should seek early intervention.

Personal experience, professional experience, and a whole lot of what goes on in these fora indicate that actually, a parent's anxiety about something even after reassurance from their GP is actually what ends up kicking off helpful early intervention from an OT, Speech Pathologist, Physio etc.

#7 Feral Grey Mare

Posted 20 September 2012 - 06:34 PM

It doesn't stop. We are getting  the "MY son passed his driving test first go......." comparisons and soon to go through the "comparing HSC exam results" stage. Just trust your instincts with regard to milestones. If you think something is wrong, then look into it.

#8 F.E.B.E

Posted 20 September 2012 - 06:40 PM

Some excellent points have been raised about being aware of milestones so that intervention can be sought, when needed.

Amity has included in her article that people should seek the opinion of their child health nurse or GP if anything seems amiss.

I thought the message that Amity was trying to convey was, that milestones aren't a competition.

#9 Fourteenyears

Posted 20 September 2012 - 06:52 PM

I agree that it's unhelpful to engage in milestone competition and definitely see that Amity is not being dismissive, but disagree that milestones "don't mean a thing' as per the title.   I don't even thing the bragging should be dismissed as "not meaning a thing".  Half the time it really is just excitement, not a my kid is better than yours thing.

It's a shame if/when parents feel unable to share their joy in their child's achievements in case others think they're engaging in some sort of one upmanship.  I don't go there.  If someone wants to tell me about their fabulous seven month old with a fifty word vocabulary, I'm happy to smile, nod and enjoy their joy in their child.

#10 Poussey

Posted 20 September 2012 - 08:01 PM

I am a super annoying milestone bragger! When you have a baby who is a challenging sleeper you got to make up for it somehow wink.gif I am a constant Facebook updater with photos and videos of my baby doing astonishingly clever things like peek a boo and taking steps  happy.gif

Conversely, I LOVE hearing about other babies' milestones and celebrating their "cleverness".

It's just mummy pride. I think I'll be just as excited about watching baby number 2 turn into a real little person.

But I agree with Amity that it doesn't mean that they will be exceptionally clever just because they said their first real word at 6 months. No reason to not be ridiculously proud though, and boast.

Sucks to be my facebook friends original.gif Figure they can hide me from their newsfeed if it upsets them!

#11 Duck-o-lah

Posted 05 October 2012 - 09:12 PM

I understand milestone bragging, I really do, I was guilty of it myself. However I have a friend who constantly compares her baby to others (of course he is far more advanced in every way) and it is SO tedious.

#12 kelpieDJB

Posted 06 October 2012 - 04:28 PM

I think it's a little ridiculous but l'm yet to have a child so l haven't experienced it yet, but l worked in child care with babies and they have age ranges for when your child should reach a milestone for a reason, but l know my mother in law will be starting this comparison between my baby and his/her cousins from about week 1.

#13 cheekymonkeysmum

Posted 06 October 2012 - 04:43 PM

Yes I worries over time and I don't think that helped my pnd.

Ds rolled at 3-4  months sat upright at 6 months crawled at 9 months and didn't walk till 22 months.

ds said Mum bub etc at about 8 months but we are still waiting for his first sentence at  3 yrs .

Yes my son has  SN's and has been in and out of hospital but I find it hard within myself even dp finds it hard not to compare.

But ds is a blessing and we are extremely happy he has met most of his milestones even though the hospital staff just after ds's birth said he won't be able to do anything besides lay down and breathe he is an amazing 3 yr old.

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