When you buy a brand new computer it’s useless until you go through several set up stages to get it working to its full potential. Every step is predictable, set, pre-determined. There are no surprises unless you were naive enough to buy it from someone’s car boot.
Press X and follow set up screen. Computer booting up, this may take a few minutes. Looking at the written instructions telling you what happens at each stage you’re certain all is working as it should.
We have expectations when it comes to computers doing what they should in correct and timely fashion. But why do we apply these strict expectations to tiny human beings?
Between all the baby books, websites, email newsletters and health visitors telling us what our babies should be doing to the week it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the information.
Our babies come with plenty of set-up instructions from multiple sources. The trouble is your baby didn’t read these. And she doesn’t care.
They tell us when babies should roll over, grab things with their hands, talk, sit up, stand up, walk, jump and run.
I remember following the ‘what your baby is learning/doing/achieving this week’ advice constantly when Bubba One was little. I was thrilled when she was doing what was expected. But when she wasn’t quite sitting up unaided at seven months (she didn’t do that until nine months) I panicked. Was there something wrong? Was I not helping her practice enough?
It was compounded when I saw other babies her age and younger managing to sit with total ease.
The same happened when she didn’t walk until 15 months. Why wasn’t she walking? Was there something wrong with her legs?
At Bubba One’s nine-month health visitor review I had to fill out a questionnaire. When it came to communication it asked if she followed basic commands. I had never told her to do anything, as I had no expectations of her doing what she was told at that age. She also wasn’t babbling the range of noises expected. So I had to tick no. The health visitor shook her head and said my baby was in a “grey area” for communication. She said if the “problem” was still there at 12 months I should see my GP.
Fast forward to age two and my daughter is the most incredible talker. She forms sentences, has conversations with me and my husband, is constantly learning new words and loves pointing things out and saying what they are. Oh, and of course she can walk.
I’m still not sure about the “follows basic commands” bit though.
So with Bubba Two I haven’t paid attention to any of the milestones. I feel so much more relaxed this time because I just know all is fine with her.
I understand the milestones can be a practical way of flagging up disabilities in children at a crucial early age. However I just think we get way too bogged down in this box ticking exercise when it’s clear baby is healthy.
It feels so much better not comparing my baby to an instruction manual.
And I’m not expecting her to follow basic commands any time soon.