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In Her Own Time

It’s very exciting to watch our children reach new developmental milestones. This is especially true for first-time parents. I remember being amazed as our first child, Keira, learned to roll over, crawl, stand up, walk, and talk. Now, we’re enjoying seeing our youngest, Eliza, go through the same stages. But I’ve noticed things are a bit different this time around.

As far as development, Keira breezed through each stage fairly quickly. She was crawling, walking, and talking ahead of schedule. Even now, at 3, we continue to be amazed by her advanced vocabulary and motor skills. She’ll recognize our reaction to her accomplishments, smile, and ask, “Are you impressed?”

Eliza is different from Keira in many ways. She’s currently at the “top of her class” in height and weight, often landing in the upper 90th percentile with each well visit, while Keira usually fell right in the middle. Eliza doesn’t sleep or breastfeed as well as Keira did at her age and didn’t take to eating solid foods as quickly. She was slower to crawl as well. We’d try to position her, prop her up, and entice her with toys. Nothing. She would smile and roll around on the floor, eventually ending up where she wanted to go.

I found myself starting to feel slightly concerned about her development. I’d catch myself looking at Keira’s baby pictures and videos and noticing what she was doing when she was Eliza’s age. I know I shouldn’t do it, but it’s very easy to use your first child’s pace of development as a measuring stick. This led me to think that Eliza was behind where she needed to be, when in actuality, she was just fine. Comparing them could diminish the excitement of Eliza’s special moments, which is unfair to her. I had to realize that she would hit those milestones when she was ready, and not a day sooner.

A few days after I convinced myself to stop stressing about it, I came home to find Eliza effortlessly crawling around the living room. A couple weeks later, she was eating solids like a champ. Now, she’s pulling up onto furniture and can even stand on her own for a few seconds.

Our children’s development is something we can’t control, so it doesn’t make sense to stress over it. Rather than comparing your child to a sibling, or other kids their age, it’s important to enjoy each moment and celebrate their individuality. As parents, we need to sit back and let our children reach each milestone in their own time.

To learn about typical developmental milestones, talk with your pediatrician and check out our health library, The Growing Child.

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About Z. Andrew Jatau, LPC

About Z. Andrew  Jatau, LPC

Z. Andrew is a Licensed Professional Counselor and the founder of Mylemarks, an online company that develops social-emotional resources to use with kids and teens. Through that company, he creates content such as digital downloads, workbooks, and children’s books. He’s an adjunct professor in the Human Services department at Old Dominion University, and serves as the Fatherhood Consultant for CHKD’s Dads in Action program. When he’s not working, he enjoys spending time with his family, cooking, and listening to music.