Wednesday 4 September 2013

D for Developmental Milestones

When I was pregnant, I had the ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ app on my iPhone and I got a real kick out of looking at it each week to see what fruit size my baby was at, and the developmental milestones that she was making in utero. That sort of consumed me while I was pregnant and I didn’t really read on much further – hence actually having a baby was a real shock! I mean, I knew I was pregnant; I knew what the end result would be but sort of glossed over having to give birth and all that came along with it.

Similarly, I also glossed over all the milestones that are associated with having a baby. Mr Fork and I didn’t get caught up in when Ellie would reach certain milestones at all, much to my consternation as I go back and retrospectively complete her birth book. I’m often heard going “Honey, when did Ellie first sit up on her own?” and likely the answer will be “I don’t know, just put down early May or something!”

Sitting so easily now it's hard to remember she didn't always do it!
That’s not to say that we didn’t do some research. I have a fabulous app called the Wonder Weeks  which has been pretty great. It works on the premises that as children grow, you can predict with some accuracy when they are going to make a mental development leap based on neurological changes. These changes generally mean that baby is exposed to so much new stimulus that they get grumpy and have regressions in previously learnt skills (such as sleep and independence!). In practical terms, we are able to recognise signs she is about to hit a ‘wonder week’, understand when Ellie has problems sleeping and is extra clingy, and in turn, help her to develop new abilities with targeted play and activities. The app isn’t specific and times though and generally gives a window of several weeks for things to happen.

So, we don’t generally push for Ellie to do things. We cheer her accomplishments, such as teeth, sitting, standing, sleep, the ability to give cuddles (yay!) or vocalise. What we don’t do is compare her to other baby’s progress. My thoughts are, when it comes down to it, who really cares when she walked? How long she was breastfed for? When she got all her teeth? Ate solids. Children do things in their own time when they are developmentally read for it, and it’s my job as a parent to be aware of that add support her through my actions.

Hence, I’m throwing developmental milestones and comparisons out the window and celebrating Ellie for herself! As long as she’s tracking nicely and staying in the right growth percentiles and continuously developing, I’m not worried about the specifics of when she does things. I know instinctively that my child is just fine, and when she’s ready, that’s when she’ll do things.

Do you adhere to developmental milestones or use them more as guidelines?

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