Do you find yourself consumed with comparing your baby to other babies of the same age? Take a deep breath and remember you’re not alone!
At doddl we use ‘milestones’ to help guide parents around development at mealtimes. This is because it can be helpful to understand the progression your little one will take. Progression from weaning, through to using cutlery successfully at family mealtimes around the dining table. But as parents we also know exactly how it can feel if you’re worried about your baby being left behind. Or seemingly not ‘doing as well’ as other babies. So we caught up with Christine Pollack, paediatric occupational therapist, based in New York. We discuss tips to avoid the dreaded milestone comparison, whilst still using milestones as a helpful guide for your baby’s development.
Written by Christine Pollack, OTR/L
“As a mom and an occupational therapist, I often hear parents using comparison as a metric to measure their baby’s milestone achievements. When you’re around parents and babies that are similar in age, it’s natural to notice when a baby is doing something that yours may not be. Our internal dialogue may start to sound like, “Why is my baby the same age and not walking?”. Or “My baby isn’t rolling yet, am I doing something wrong?”. Not only is this type of outlook harmful for us as parents; it can put unintentional stress and pressure on your child. This kind of pattern is also difficult to break. And it could influence your response to your child’s future achievements in academics, extracurricular activities and making important life decisions. So, what are some strategies to ease our minds and avoid comparing?
Remind yourself that development is not always linear
Milestones are guidelines based on the average age range that a child may demonstrate mastery in a specific developmental skill area. Milestone development can vary from child to child or even among siblings. Some kids may even develop milestones out of the typical sequence or order. Milestone achievement depends on a complex interaction environmental, physical, cognitive, and emotional factors all influencing skill development.
As long as your baby’s skills are developed or emerging within the average age range, it doesn’t matter when or how long it took them to develop those skills.
Stay off Google and talk to your paediatrician, health visitor or GP
As modern parents, we’re lucky to have access to information at our fingertips via internet searches. However, this can also cause us to spiral and overthink, based on information that could be difficult to apply or interpret. If you are concerned about development, it is completely valid to communicate your feelings to your paediatrician, health visitor or GP. Often, they will reassure you that skills are still emerging. Or they might suggest investigating further, both of which are better solutions than trying to navigate concerns on your own!
Focus on your child’s strengths
It can be so easy to get caught up in concerns about what our children can’t do, that we forget to focus on what they can do. It’s possible that your child excels in one developmental domain, even though skills are still emerging in another. I referred to my daughter as a “gross motor baby” because that was her strong point This meant that she would focus most on gross motor activities like climbing, crawling and running. She wasn’t as interested in communicating or talking, so she definitely developed on the later end of the average age range for speech. I monitored her progress with speech but tried not to be overly concerned. I valued the input from my paediatrician who agreed that communication skills appeared to be emerging and we’d continue to monitor.
Avoid the parent guilt
The guilt behind milestone achievement can be daunting. As modern parents who are juggling work, household, family and personal responsibilities, we’re often struggling to fit it all in. It’s easy to fall into the mindset of thinking that we aren’t putting in enough effort or spending enough time supporting our child’s development. Avoid the dreaded milestone comparison. Try using positive affirmations and self-talk as a reminder that doing your best is enough!
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of doddl. All content and opinions expressed in this post are based on my honest findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products
Christine Pollack graduated from New York University with a masters in Occupational Therapy. She is currently a mom and paediatric occupational therapist specializing in school-based therapy and early intervention in NYC.
Follow her on Instagram: @a.dose.of.OT
Content and references are for informational purposes only and are not intended to replace medical advice or occupational therapy intervention