One of the universal truths of motherhood is that when you start having babies, there are always plenty of long-term parenting veterans around who are happy to share stories and give advice.And sometimes, that advice is very helpful!
And sometimes … it isn’t.
As I watched my first baby grow and develop, I quickly became aware that all those mothers who were my guiding light in the murky, sleep-deprived, anxiety-ridden newness of motherhood had blessed the earth with genetically superior children.
Meanwhile, I had – apparently – birthed a dud.
“Carly had a full set of teeth and was eating steak by four months!”
“My little Eddie was setting records in the 60-yard dash at eight months!”
“The twins were using the potty, reciting the alphabet, AND speaking fluent German by fifteen months!”
Therefore, it was no surprise how at my daughter’s six-month check-up, I went into full-out crisis mode when the doctor expressed concern over some developmental issues.
I asked my experienced maternal friends and got little better than a collective shrug. After all, their children had been pre-accepted into the Julliard School of Dance by six months, so they had no idea what it meant that mine was still rolling around on the floor.
This, friends and fellow mothers, is where the joy I found in my child and being her mom took a serious hit. Delight was replaced by fear. When I looked at my child, all I could feel was worry for her future and her well-being.
Are you nodding along right now?
Are you concerned about your child not hitting his milestones on time too?
Well, friends, let’s talk about what steps you should take next!
If there are one or two areas of your child’s growth or development that are concerning to you, try to develop a “big picture” of your baby. Don’t just focus on what worries you. Check out his achievements!
Assess both growth and developmental factors. And, guess what. I have just the tool to help!
Mighty Moms has a Milestone Marker e-book series that does just that! One purchase gets you both a Memory Tracker (to jot down achievements and developmental milestones) AND a Growth Tracker!
The Milestone Marker will help you jot down the important little things that can quickly get lost in the hubbub of busy life. For example …
Using the Milestone Marker to Capture Developmental Concerns:
Before calling your doctor, gather as much information as you can about your child. Write down all the little things she does – even if they don’t seem important! For example:
- Does she pay more attention to moving objects or moving people?
- Does she seem content to stay where she’s left, or does she appear eager to gain mobility?
- How does she respond to loud noises?
- How does she manipulate smaller toys that fit well in her hand?
- Does she mimic actions and/or speech sounds?
There are spaces next to every developmental milestone for you to write down your thoughts about where your child is with each of these.
The Milestone Marker also prides itself in digging up the less-known milestones that are so fun to watch for and record.
- When will your baby give you the first real belly laugh?
- At what point will your infant discover he can create spit bubbles?
- When might your child be ready to play ball with Dad in the back yard?
- What would be a good time to record your child discovering rhythm and dance?
Spend time interacting with your child. I know that’s really hard for both moms who work outside the home AND moms who spend most of their time at home, but five minutes here, twenty minutes there, anything you can squeeze in between tasks will be valuable in gaining a good understanding of your baby’s strengths and weaknesses.
Using the Milestone Marker to Monitor Growth Concerns:
Babies who are bigger than what seems average or appear to be growing fast are rarely a concern. If your munchkin is 5 months old and wearing 9-12 month clothing, he’s probably just eating extremely well. (Go you!)
Babies who are smaller than average CAN BE more of a concern. There can be any number of explanations, but it’s best to get him thoroughly checked out if he’s 4 months old and still wearing newborn clothes.
Chapter Three, “How to Spot a Delay,” in the Milestone Marker not only shares the signs of autism you should be aware of, but provides a checklist called “Signs of a Possible Delay” for you to go over with your doctor.
Remember, Genetics Matters!
Before you go all panicky, remember that genetics plays a HUGE role in the size of your child!
When my first child was less than 24 hours old, her doctor insisted that I shouldn’t be concerned if she consistently stays smaller than her peers. After all, I’m a petite 5’0” who had to sit on a pillow to see over the steering wheel of my first car. Plus, my husband describes himself as 5´7” – rather generously, in my opinion – so naturally, we should make tiny babies.
Sure enough, my older daughter hasn’t been anywhere near the growth chart since she was six months old! Yet imagine my shock when at my younger daughter’s last appointment, she was in the 75th percentile for height!
Weighing Your Baby at Home
Weight is a great indicator of your baby’s overall health. Fortunately, it’s very easy to monitor this at home!
In Chapter Four, “What Stewie Griffin Can Teach Us About Baby Growth,” there are several printable growth charts for you to see the progression of your child’s weight. Not only will it be handy at the doctor’s office, it makes a great baby keepsake!
Baby scales are great because you can get tiny increments. This convertible one works for both babies and toddlers, measures down to 0.5-oz increments, and has over 350 five-star, verified purchase reviews!
Don’t want to spring for a baby scale?
You can use a regular bathroom scale, but again, it’s best to choose a scale with small increments, such as this thin, sleek model that measures in 0.1-lb increments.
To measure your baby’s weight with a bathroom scale, follow these four exhaustion-proof steps:
- Weigh yourself without baby.
- Step off scale.
- Weigh yourself with baby.
- Subtract the first weight from the second weight. Now you know what baby weighs.
Ask Your Friends
I do it.
You do it.
We all do it.
When our kids are being awesome, we share it! When we’re concerned or worried or aware of our children’s shortcomings … we’re just less likely to invite the world to know it.
Other moms might think my kids are pretty much perfect because they both slept through the night before they turned four weeks old, are incredibly self-entertaining, and have excellent social skills.
They are less likely to know that my kids are HORRIBLE nappers. Or that my almost-two-year-old still isn’t eating solids while my youngest spits up on a minimum of fourteen onesies, seven of my shirts, and three sets of bedsheets every single day. UNLESS they ask!
It’s okay to ask outright about specific experiences.
That mom whose daughter was walking at 9 months old may be just as worried about communication skills as you are.
Choose Emotional Independence
Have you spent much time researching baby milestones?
Believe me, when your kid hits 18 months and isn’t walking or talking, you start doing a LOT of research!
If you consult more than one or two sources, you’ll make a quick discovery: BABIES DEVELOP DIFFERENTLY!
I know. Shocking, right?
Every milestone has a wide age range for what’s considered “normal” and an even wider range for what a reasonable person would deem acceptable.
It is important – nay VITAL – to intentionally decide to be emotionally independent from the milestones you are tracking.
In fact, the Milestone Marker has a little “contract” at the beginning of both books called “A Declaration of Emotional Independence” that points out that your child is an INDIVIDUAL and needs to be considered as such.
Make a decision upfront not to be driven and tossed by all the milestone dates thrown around, but just enjoy the process of watching your child grow up. Your doctor will guide you if/when therapies need to be added. Until then, keep your fears and imagination in check!
Talk to the Pediatrician
You’ve talked to friends and family.
Hopefully, you’ve found that you’re not alone. There’s a very good chance that your child isn’t as abnormal as you feared!
If you’re still uneasy about your child’s development or growth, it’s time to call in the big guns. Bring your observations, questions, and concerns with you to your next doctor’s visit.
Pediatricians have loads of experience and training with children of all levels and rates of development, and they’re great at assessing what’s inside normal expectations and who might need some special monitoring or professional evaluation.
As we always like to say here at Mighty Moms, “When in doubt, give Doc a shout!”
Doctors know the right questions to ask, and since you’ve already done Steps #1-3, you’ll have all the answers! Thanks to the Milestone Marker, you’ll have been watching for subtle changes in your baby and know what to keep an eye on.
Isn’t it just the worst when you have nothing to offer but a blank stare when they ask something obscure, such as, “Does Billy prefer roses or daisies?”
And you just sit there and think, “Holy crackers, did I miss the chapter on flower preferences? If he hasn’t shifted his focus from daisies to roses, does that mean his language skills are behind? What kind of mother AM I?!?!?”
Ah, friends! Just the fact that you DO worry proves what a great parent you are! If you’re reading this right now, I’m totally convinced that you love your munchkin and want to do right by him.
Feel free to ask your doctor ANYTHING! No one judges you more harshly than you do yourself – especially not a doctor. Asking questions is a great way to prove to her how much you DO care!
How to Get Help
Maybe you leave your doctor with a sigh of relief after hearing there’s no need to be concerned.
Or perhaps she recognizes that your little princess isn’t crawling yet because of lack of muscle tone in her arms, and she gives you some exercises to try at home for the next several weeks.
But what will happen if your doctor comes to the conclusion that some form of further evaluation or help is needed for your child?
There are all sorts of options, but availability may vary depending on where you live.
Maybe you have a developmental-behavioral pediatrician nearby. That’s great!
Maybe you have therapy clinics or a child study center in your area. Fantastic!
But for our fellow Americans, what’s really cool is that whether or not you have access to these services in your hometown, every state has an early intervention program for children with developmental concerns. They can vary a great deal in structure and philosophy from state to state so you’ll want to contact your county health department for more information on what your state offers.
For certain concerns, such as growth issues, a geneticist may be needed. Those can be few and far between, so be prepared to travel some distance unless you live in a large metropolis. However, a lot can be learned in just one or two visits, so it’s unlikely to be a trip you’ll have to make often.
And then, of course, there’s the main trio of therapy types: speech pathology/feeding therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.
The options can be overwhelming! It’s crucial to have a pediatrician who can guide you and explain where all the different paths can lead.
Getting Started At Home
But what about in the meantime? What can you do at home? Especially if you have a LOOOOOOONG wait to get into a specialist for a further evaluation?
Sister, I’m so glad you asked!
As a mom, you spend more time with your child than any doctor or therapist could, and we live in a world where information is easily accessible. The training and experience of professionals is valuable and irreplaceable, but you aren’t helpless to support your child.
And what better support can you get online than the Mighty Moms gang?
There are some great brain-boosting toys available these days – including many that I want to try out myself (#youngatheart)!
Mighty Mom writer Amy Collins is a speech and language therapist with some fantastic tips to help expand your toddler’s vocabulary.
Mighty Mom writer Elizabeth Daghfal provides excellent suggestions on helping preschoolers learn and grow their cognitive skills as they get ready for kindergarten!
And while we’re funny and knowledgeable (and occasionally snarky), we understand that you may want more professional input. So here are some books written by mega-intelligent people who say you can help your kids’ development!
#1. Baby Minds: Brain Building Games Your Baby Will Love ~ written by two children’s psychologists giving fun and practical advice for stimulating your child’s development. The games listed in here are so fun that I might actually do them!
#2. Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five ~ written by a developmental molecular biologist (which apparently means he knows a lot about brains) and goes into a lot of detail on the most important things for children to learn.
#3. How Toddlers Thrive: What Parents Can Do Today for Children Ages 2-5 to Plant the Seeds of Lifelong Success ~ written by a child development psychologist known as “The Toddler Whisperer” – and more importantly used to work for Sesame Street! (Totally fangirling!)
#4. The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind ~ written by a pair of doctors with a list of accolades and degrees so ridiculously long that I now feel inadequate to talk about anything baby-related ever again.
#5. My Toddler Talks: Strategies and Activities to Promote Your Child’s Language Development ~ a great choice for language help! The author is a speech path with a MA in Communication Disorders. (You think she can help with Chronic Foot-in-Mouth Syndrome?)
MENSA Babies Vs. The Dog Food Eaters
I know that in ten years it won’t matter whose kid was the first to roll over, eat their vegetables, or speak in sentences.
But right now, when everyone else’s kid seems miles ahead of my own, there are days when the whole thing just feels terrifying.
So, I’d like to make one final suggestion that should be included in every single one of the above-listed steps: Celebrate what your child is amazing at!
Start a list! Do a little bragging of your own. I’ll even go first:
- My daughter has an amazing musical mind! She can match pitch AND repeat rhythms back to me.
- Her fine motor skills have dramatically outpaced her gross motor skills. She can stack and balance a tower of Cheerios on the floor better than I can!
- Her sense of humor simply cannot be beat. She loves to come up with creative ways to make Mommy and Daddy laugh!
- She has great cognitive and social skills! She loves being around people and doesn’t want to leave the church nursery when it’s time to go home.
Maybe you feel like your kid doesn’t measure up to others in the ways that society values. But that doesn’t mean that your child is less valuable. His gifts may simply look different. And that’s something to take great joy in.
Add your bragging list below in the comments! What are you going to celebrate about your child today?
Have You Read These Yet?
- The Most Common Baby Questions Keeping You Up at Night
- Everything a New Mama Warrior Needs to Know About Baby Care
- Is a Severe Diaper Rash Ruining Your Baby’s Day? You Need to Try This.
- The 3 Signs of a Healthy Baby Every Mother Should Know
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Katie is a mom of 2 under 2 and totally
rocking surviving it, all thanks to her friends Mr. Coffee and Baby Einstein. She spent four years and more money than she cares to admit getting a degree that enables her to teach piano lessons from home … and that’s about it. Between “mom life”, teaching private music lessons, and writing fantasy novels, she decided she didn’t have enough to do.
Enter Mighty Moms. Now Katie has a great way to channel her oversharing problem, hopefully encouraging other moms at the same time!