Baby milestones and why it pays to take a relaxed approach

Molly Forbes is a first time mum and freelance journalist. She lives in Berkshire with her husband and 16 month old daughter. You can find out more on her blog, Mother's Always Right. 

When my daughter was born she didn’t do much - newborn babies don’t really. So while my little bundle slept, I Googled. I looked up ages when I could start expecting to see some action. And I found a million and one websites willing to share this information.

While I swatted up on what to expect each month, I started to get excited. I just knew my baby would be the “winner” and reach each milestone before any other babies we knew. Of course she would. This was going to be fun.

And then we got to 12 weeks and she still wasn’t rolling over. There’d be the occasional half-hearted attempt, but then nothing. While my baby happily gurgled on her back at Baby and Toddler Group, the other babies would be rolling all around her. I started to fret.

The 16 week mark came and went without a hint of rolling. By this time we were well and truly left behind. Other mums would ask, “Has she rolled over yet?” and I used to lie. “Yes,” I’d say, “She’s a champion roller”. *Lie*

At five months my daughter eventually started to get the hang of the whole rolling thing, if she could be bothered. But by this time, the other babies around us were starting to think about sitting unaided. Yet again we were being left behind.

The dreaded comparative questions arrived, “Is she sitting yet?” and “Has she started sleeping through the night yet?” and I used to lie again. I would sit behind my daughter at various baby groups, surreptitiously propping her up while I lied through my teeth about how great she was at sitting on her own and how she’d been sleeping through the night since she was two months old.

But by the 7 month mark I was exhausted.

My daughter still required a set of cushions around her when she was left sitting on her own. She certainly wasn’t making any attempts to crawl. And every time I read another mum’s Facebook status update, bragging about the incredible mobility skills of their super baby I had to turn the computer off in a fit of envy.

And then I realised: why did it matter? I worried all that time about my daughter not rolling, but she did it eventually. All that time I was fretting over her being left behind, was time I could have spent just enjoying my baby.

So I handed in my baby race card there and then. No more lies for me, thank you very much. I’d answer those comparative questions with a smile and a shrug of the shoulders. I was coming last in the baby race and I just didn’t care.

It was at that point - around eight months - that I started to appreciate how skilled my daughter really was. She wasn’t crawling, but she could shake a rattle and suck her big toe at the same time, and that takes some doing.

We’re now at the 16 month mark and - guess what? We’re still coming last. All the other babies have graduated from crawling to walking by now. Some are even running, while we’ve only just arrived at the walking while holding hands stage.

But it really doesn’t matter.

She may not be walking yet, but my daughter already knows a dog says, “Woof” and a cow says, “Moo”. She may not be climbing on tables like some of the other rather nimble tots, but she can pick up a triangle and put it in the right hole in her shape sorter. She can say, “Mummy” and “Daddy” and “Grandma” and a whole host of other words (including, “No!” - much to my annoyance). She’s proof that the age a child learns to crawl or walk, is no sign of their future intelligence. They just concentrate on different things at different times.

So I’m keeping firmly out of the baby race from now on. I’ve hung up my Competitive Mum hat and will watch from the sidelines in the future.

And no more Googling milestone information - she’ll do it when she’s ready.


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