I have found over recent years that young and expectant mothers spend a lot of time on-line researching what to do to make sure they deliver a healthy baby, how to look after their babies, and what they should be doing at what stage in their development. And if the baby does not do what is “normal” then they worry either that they are doing something wrong, or there is something wrong with their baby.
Now, I accept that for some of us, there are lots we do not know when we have our first baby, and some advice always comes in handy. We do need to know how to bath a baby, maybe even how to put on a nappy and dress the child. But I do believe that to judge our babies – or even someone else’s baby – because they do not sleep in the same way as the books say they should, or they are not sitting up at x months, is not correct. After all, all growing and learning is gradual; it does not happen overnight. Sometimes it is fast, sometimes it is slow, but whatever it is, it is not necessarily wrong or indicative of a failing of some sort.
I do not mean that parents should not be watching the growth and actions of their baby, but each child is different, and really the books and blogs can only talk about an average – and an average is made up of extremes, not all the same. In my own experience, my son was sitting up at 5 months, and walking at around 11 months. My daughter did not sit up until over 7 months, but this was because she was rolling over at less than three months, and crawling before she was 5 months – why sit if she could go exploring? And she did not walk until around 13 months, but was standing in the middle of the room with perfect balance before she was 12 months. This was just an indication that they are different people, and yes even as babies they are people with different thoughts and actions.
So I always remember two things that my mother said:
- Our babies/children survive in spite of us, not because of us; and
- Each child is an experiment of one, that is they are all different
Previously I had been a bit censorious of mothers with children with limbs in casts. This experience definitely brought home to me that our children “survive in spite of us, not because of us”.