Raising a Baby Isn't a Race

Mom Moment 30

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?


baby development, milestones


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Stacey. Stacey.

I agree whoeheartedly with everything you said! At first I was anxious for my daughters milestones, then when I realized how fast everything was going I realized I want them to come slower.

My baby just turned 1, and I wish I could start her whole first year over again. I try to cherish every second as much as possible, and I think it's stupid when people try to brag about how "advanced" their babies are. Who cares? When my baby got teeth I miseed her gummy smile, when my baby learned to walk I missed her being a little thing crawling around, when she learned words I missed her coos.

Didog... Didogirl78

I always talked about my daughter's milestones out of lack of knowledge. Being the youngest child with few babysitting jobs, I had no idea what to expect from babies. You can read the books until you have them memorized, but you really don't know what that develpment looks like until you actually see or hear it. My daughter does everything right on schedule- nothing early. Being an overachiever myself, this was hard at first, but I have learned to go with the flow. My daughter just turned 3 and is the size of a 4-year-old, so I often talk about my "giant child" not only to get more information on development (and fitting clothing), but to also give other children and adults a better perspective from which to relate to my child. She may look like she's 4 or 5, but trust me, she is just 3. That's why her speech isn't as developed, because she really is just 3. It helps.

NatAndCo NatAndCo

I'm anxious for them to reach their milestones, period. On time is good enough for me. My twin boys just hit 3 months and yes I'm guilty of constantly checking development charts, one to see if theyre on track and two to see what I have to look forward to. Do I have proud moments when they are on the early side of their milestones though? Absolutely. They laughed early and that just made my day. I'm not going to compete over it though.

And besides, my (in my head) response when someone does try to compare is usually "yah well mine are cuter so.... I win".

nonmember avatar len

Sometimes people are just making conversation, it's natural to ask what your babies peers are up to and how they are doing. Don't always assume the mom is trying to "one up". Should a mom with a baby who hits milestone shockingly early and has been told be docs that her baby is very advanced not talk to other moms for fear of being accused of bragging? Don't be so insecure.

nonmember avatar Brooke

Ohh man, I would get so irritated listening to my cousin talk about her overacheiving baby, but only beacuse my daughter was very early so hearing about so and so crawling at 4 months or whatever hurt because I knew that mine would be on a slower schedule- and trust me, I was ok with it, I just think that some people don't think before they talk. She is almost 3 and still has a couple delays, so I hate when people say well this one or that one was doing this or that by now. I know. And she will get there.

Yadie... YadielsMama

When they're 5, no one is going to care or be able to tell who walked 3 months sooner as a baby!

vanes... vanessa5470

Maybe they just don't have anything else to talk to you about.

Mindi Brizendine

I used to stress about my son's milestones. My cousin's daughter seemed to do things faster than him. She was always trying to one up me. I finally got tired of worrying and eventually my son learned how to do things. He's two now and is still learning new things everyday. No one harasses me about his milestones now. 

Torra... TorranceMom

My husband and I are always wishing we could magically stop time so our daughter (and last child) won't get any older. They're wonderful at every age but there's just something that's so precious and yummy about tiny babies, isn't there?

nonmember avatar Cindy

I agree with Len and didogirl78 above. Often it's just making coversation with another parent of a similar aged child (that you may not have a lot more in common with) or curiosity of what other little ones are doing. I do this all the time with my friends whith kids around my childs age and the older ones to see what's coming next. I am not meaning to brag or compare. Maybe you could tell with particular woman that it was more than jsut conversation but I know MANY adults with new little ones like me and I have never felt any kind of one uping or competition. That's just silly as ALL of us have read enough to know that every child is different.

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