‘Everything settles down by the 3rd month’, they said. LIARS!!! The month came and went. Nothing new happened. Life was still chaotic and mostly just poop cleaning (when I wasn’t breastfeeding, sometimes even when I was)
The only good news was, she was sleeping well at night. By 10.30 it was all calm, and our nights were blissful (errrmmmm..so that is a milestone..!! but it’s supposed to happen between month 4-6 or even later!!).
LilM was not a particularly difficult infant, but she was lactose intolerant and weighed just about enough at birth. So, we were looking at some sky-high levels of gas and bloating that was not going away with home remedies or even medicines. Turns out, they outgrow it, you just have to try and make them comfortable till then. (Except for the lactose intolerance, that is something you control with diet and formula, but it can be diagnosed only after the 3rd month)
Sometime in week 15, I noticed that her head was definitely steady, there were a lot of attempts to hold her head up for a longer period of time without support. A lot of mumbling and kicking was happening too.
But none of this happened one at a time, or one milestone a day or month or something. We were not progressing at one particular rate or speed everyday, some days we were going ahead, some days we were not. It was not a very organised, structured process of growth. (as one would have imagined after reading up on development charts and milestones). Know why? because it is a natural process, dummy!! Not a scientific experiment.
So for most of it, in spite of all my reading and taking notes, I was not sure if we had reached a milestone, crossed it or just waltz passed it without noticing. We know that every child grows at a unique pace, and the milestone charts are for reference only. But, when we hear stories from other moms about how their precious one is moving up the growth chart even better than what it says in the books, we begin to wonder right? A) Are we not doing enough? B) Is there something not-okay with our baby. One was doubting our competency and self, and the other was just your garden-variety over-thinking.
By the time lilM hit month 6, we knew what they meant by that unique pace. We were getting the hang of her growth pace. But we really had to work hard on controlling ourselves from pushing lilM harder to cross those common benchmarks that we have attached to baby development. So, many conversations with those who met her were basically ‘oh..she is xmonths old, does she do Y yet?’ (She is not a circus monkey!! she has no tricks up her sleeves people!!)
Well all that was on the inside. On the outside, we got lilM a lot of stimulating toys, did a lot of activities with her to stimulate growth and development. When she was just mostly lying around with her eyes open, I’d sing and dance to entertain her. (should have probably just read her a book or something, would have been less traumatic for the poor child)
In our family we had kids who had rolled over at two weeks, 8 weeks and everyone else thought she should have rolled over by month 3. She used to do this Ananthashayanam pose (do you know what this is? – it’s a side-facing sleeping pose associated with an important Hindu God, Vishnu). But no rolling over by herself. She saved that for her first day in Chennai (month 5).
She sat up somewhere in her 8th month, was swimming around the house almost immediately after rolling over. Before she started crawling, she learnt to stand up using support of some furniture in her play area. So, when she was crawling, she was also able to pull herself up and stand with support. She did not walk by the time she was one. Her first step on her own was when she was 13 months, now in month 14 she has gone from Lady Wobbleton to Lady Prowalkingston. So, some of it happened very slow, some happened in quick succession. Why? I do not know, but I think it has something to do with the fact that we are raising a child, not a robot. They don’t come programmed. They learn and grow their own way, and our job is to just facilitate the process.
So, how should you look at development milestones?
- Screw those generic charts, if you want a yardstick, get a one from your baby’s pediatrician that makes sense for your baby. Weight, height and genetics make a lot of difference in these matters.
- Go easy on purchasing toys and hit it up with stimulating activities. especially in the early months.
- Don’t take your cues from other babies, when your own baby is sending growth signals left, right and center.
- Read up only with the agenda of knowing the broad way of things, there is fine print in there somewhere, that says every child has a different pace of growing. They don’t always elaborate on that. So, take it up with your doctor for the details.
I won’t say milestones are unimportant. But we need to keep it real and know what the actual milestones are!! Do learn from your baby’s doctor as to what are the real red-flags and warning signs to look out for .
This way, you’d save a lot of energy and brain space,to enjoy parenthood with your lil one ……. (by clicking instagram-worthy pictures and videos!!) —->I am kidding people!