Expectations

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This is part of a questionnaire I have to fill in for my sons 10-month review; mostly it is in line with what I would expect for his age. Things like, can your baby sit for several minutes or can your baby feed themselves finger foods?. My son is very good at the latter, if this includes feeding himself, his face, his hair, the highchair and the kitchen floor. But this question… “Does my 10-month old say 3 words?” is ridiculous!

Obviously my son can already recite poetry at this age, but most babies I know do not say 3 words! Do they? Three sounds maybe; dada, mama for example, but to say the word would imply they are able to comprehend the meaning already. The questionnaire got me thinking about expectations on our little ones and in turn the pressure/ worry this puts on us parents.

My husband worries if our children haven’t reached every milestone in time. He trawls the internet for the average age a child achieves certain things (as well as endless googling of any health ailment or unusual thing they do. For example, he googled ‘why does my daughter stick her tongue out?’ and concluded that perhaps she had had a stroke. Thankfully this was completely incorrect, she was 7 months and teething). I have many friends who worry that their little one isn’t walking/ crawling/ sleeping, in line with expectations. Is this helpful? When in fact there is really nothing we can do about any of these things. I must admit here that I was a little smug with my first child, she did most things pretty early and secretly I thought that somehow I had contributed to her genius. I don’t think I’m alone imagining that my child is a genius for being able to smile or crawl or any other thing they all do; but when it’s your child, particularly the first time you have watched a child learn these skills, it is genius!

However, when I had my second child I quickly realised that of course I had done nothing to make any of these things happen quickly or otherwise, they just get there whenever they are ready and by toddlerhood they are all pretty level. Whether they crawl at 6 months or never crawl and one day just walk at 18 months, it’s all ok. Don’t panic! If they don’t get a tooth until they are 1 years old, its fine. If they take their time to speak, don’t worry, you are not doing anything wrong. One day they will just get there.

Parents have enough to worry about. I know this questionnaire and other assessments are tools to check general wellbeing and do clearly state that it is ok if your child is not doing all or any of the things on the questionnaire. However, it does worry parents. Especially when we google or compare our little ones with friends. So while I have no words of wisdom on the matter, please know that you are not alone if you do worry about any of these things. And no baby I have ever met says 3 words by 10 months!

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