The problem with “Milestones”

On any website or blog about parenting you can find charts or lists of “milestones.”  These “milestones” are things that your baby “should” be able to do by a certain age.  The problem is that these charts generally stick to the average age at which babies are able to do certain things and they don’t reflect the huge range in which these milestones normally occur.  Take teeth as an example: some babies get their first tooth as early as 2 or 3 months (I’ve even heard of a baby who was born with teeth!) and some babies don’t get their first tooth (like our niece) until they are 15 or 16 months.  Getting teeth early or late is neither good nor bad, it just is.  It has to do with genetics.

It’s the physical/mental/emotional/language-development milestones that cause unnecessary worry though: your baby “should” be saying words by a certain age, “should” be rolling over by a certain age, “should” be doing x, y and z by their first birthday and a, b and c by the time they’re 18 months old.  If they can’t do certain things it “could” be a sign that they have this or that developmental disorder, and these days everybody is on the lookout for signs of Autism or Sensory Processing Disorder and other hot-button issues.  Again, the problem is that different babies develop different skills at different times and there is a huge range of what’s normal.  I’ve heard about some babies who crawl at 7 months and walk at 10 months but don’t talk until they’re 2 and I’ve heard of babies who are saying 10 words by their first birthday but don’t start walking until they’re 18 months old.  You never hear about the kids who do things within the “average” timeframe becuase they’re not news-worthy.  You only hear about the ones who are on the extreme ends of the spectrum.  When I really think about Julia’s development, I’m not worried.  My mama-instincts tell me that she’s fine and she’ll eventually learn to do all the things she’s supposed to do, but the doctor’s wife in me gets worried sometimes.

So anyways… there’s this list from the AAP of Developmental Milestones, that Ken pulled up this morning and started getting us a little worried.  Here’s a link to the list: LINK

At first I started to worry… but then I realized that a lot of these things are things Julia shouldn’t be expected to do or know because we don’t really do them with her.  We don’t shake our head “no” or nod “yes” when we say those words so how would she know how to do that?  We don’t frequently play a game of “let’s hide the keys and see if you can find them.”  And though she isn’t saying “Mama” and “Dada” with any meaning yet, she does babble a lot and say “Mamamama” and “Dadadada.”  Reading these lists does make me feel a little nervous but then I talk to other parents of babies her age and they reassure me that everything’s fine.  I also spoke this morning with Julia’s teacher at daycare and she said she’s not worried and that she would let us know if she was concerned.  I trust her because she spends her entire day with kids Julia’s age so she’s able to see how Julia is in comparison to other kids her age.  She may  not search for objects we’ve hidden but she does play “peekaboo” which is testing the same skill that hiding objects tests.  The only thing she mentioned is a little weird (not concerning, just weird) is that Julia won’t roll over from her back when she’s on the floor.  We know that she knows how to because most nights she rolls from her back to her side and eventually to her belly and we usually find her sitting up in the morning but she just doesn’t roll when she’s awake.  She’s lazy, or stubborn or something.  I’m not worried about that since I know she knows how to, she just doesn’t do it.  (And I certainly know who she gets her stubbornness from!)

So the moral of the story is… don’t use the internet as a doctor.  If Julia’s pediatrician is concerned at her 12-month checkup in a few weeks then I will be concerned but until then, I will continue to feel satisfied that Julia is doing just fine and meeting all her milestones.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, some pictures from yesterday in the grocery store.  It started with Julia not paying any attention to me or the camera:

9.16.2013(6)But then when she saw the camera, she put on a big smile:

9.16.2013(5)and then she decided it was really funny that I was taking her photo, so she started laughing hysterically and putting on a show for those around us.  She was just having a ball laughing in the shopping cart! 9.16.2013(8)

9.16.2013(7)

 

She’s just too funny sometimes!  I love that girl so much!