Raising a Baby Isn't a Race

babies playingThis week, my twin boys turned 8 months old, and as I dressed them up for their month-by-month picture, I found myself tearing up, wondering how they got so big, so fast, and wishing it would all just slow down.

A few days earlier, I had gotten into a conversation with another Mom at a party, who kept bombarding me with questions about what my babies were doing, in comparison to her own baby son. Are they crawling? Little Johnny is pulling to stand. Do they have teeth? Oh, Little Johnny has top and bottom. Do they understand words? We're teaching Little Johnny "no." Now, maybe this woman was trying to do a little Mommy one-upping with me, which is totally fine -- I know my guys will crawl and get teeth and, wow, even walk one day, even if it's a little later than their peers. But, so what? Is this a race? Because I'm in no rush!


When your child finally takes his first few steps or says his first word, it's a proud moment. As it should be! Some babies do it sooner, some do it later. Either way, it doesn't mean your baby is smarter or not as bright, he won't be more athletic or more of a slug, it doesn't make him better or worse. With the exception of serious delays, it pretty much just is what it is. It shouldn't be a source of competition for parents, and yet, it so often is. 

The reality is, you can't really control how quickly or slowly your baby develops -- all you can do is give him or her the tools to reach their milestones. So when parents get anxious about their baby's timeline, or worse, push them to do more than they're capable of because they're trying to one-up, they're really just doing a disservice to their children, and to themselves.

Because a lot happens in the days and weeks between milestones. If you're in a rush for your own baby to get to the next stage because Little Johnny or Baby Sue is already crawling or walking or speaking Mandarin, you're going to miss out on all the fun things happening right now. I'm enjoying watching my little guys roll from one corner to the next, I love seeing their little knees scoot up underneath them as they try to figure out how to scooch their bodies forward. I don't think they're quite near figuring out this crawling thing yet, but seeing them work at it is a pleasure all its own.

And, I've got to be honest, once they're really on-the-move, I'm going to have my hands full. Two babies, going two different directions, maybe towards electrical cords or shards of glass or a jar of pennies...on opposite sides of the room! (Of course, I'm kidding -- I'll be sure to keep the shards of glass on a high shelf.) My point being, once they start really crawling, then standing, then cruising, then walking, we can't go backwards.

They're still at the age where they'll snuggle in Mommy's arms, but over the last couple of weeks, I've noticed it's for shorter and shorter periods of time. They're becoming even more curious, more willful, more motivated to explore. Even when they reach for me, they cuddle for, oh, five seconds, until they're ready to get back on the ground and play some more. I can only imagine how boring I'll be once they've learned to crawl over to their own toy box...or that jar of pennies.

And no, they don't have teeth yet -- so what? These days of gummy smiles are short-lived, their excessively-drooly mouths on my cheeks won't be forever. And yes, maybe their lack of teeth makes me a little more hesitant to give them finger foods just yet, but again, so what? They'll have the rest of their childhood to shove Cheerios in their mouth and scatter them all over the floor -- what's another month or two of purees and soft fruits?

I've always said that I want my children to be brave, to be independent, to be curious about the world and eager to explore it. That's still true. I'm giving them plenty of floor time and reading to them and taking them out where I talk to them about what we see. I'm certainly not trying to hold them back. But, at the same time, I'm savoring their babyhood -- their toothless grins and roly-poly deliciousness, the way they open up their mouths like little birds, waiting for their pacifier or a spoonful of avocado. I love watching the two of them roll all over the floor in just their diapers, babbling at each other and laughing, squashing their faces into the carpet with glee. I love how they reach for me and still need me, how they'll rub their eyes and then nuzzle their faces against my chest when they're sleepy.

I wish I could just stop time, or at least slow it down. I know that I can't keep them babies forever, and I know that it will just get better (possibly with a hellish phase when they're 2 and 3). But I'm going to enjoy the right now, and not look ahead, wondering when they're going to crawl or get teeth or say their first words. It's all on the horizon, and all happening so so so quickly. Again, I'm in no rush.

Are you anxious for your baby to reach his or her milestones early? Or are you okay with sitting back and waiting?


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