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Benchmarks… is my baby meeting them? or am I making myself crazy?

December 22, 2009

Have you even gotten sucked into the myth of the Perfect Mother whose kids meet all the benchmarks on time? It’s so easy to do.

We all want to do this job of parenting so well. And I think we look outside ourselves and our families to judge whether or not we’re “succeeding”…. we look at benchmarks. Even that word, succeeding cares such an emotional weight when applied to parenting. Benchmarks are after all external indicators of development. And I wonder sometimes if the focus of meeting the benchmarks pushes our kids too far, to their and our emotional detriment. I saw a baby t-shirt on the internet, that proudly proclaimed, “I’ll walk when I’m good and ready!”. That made me smile. Markus could use that one. At almost 15 months, he’s still not walking. He’s close so I’m too concerned, but I did feel that little yucky feeling of “Oh is he behind?” when all of the other babies his age ( and some younger ) were walking yesterday at the birthday party we attended.  And there are times to be genuinely concerned. A friend of mine’s little guy needed some physiotherapy because he bum scooted for so long that his inner leg muscles were almost too flexible and he had trouble standing. Today he’s a happy 5 year old today who runs with no problems. And I know that the vast majority of bum scooters transition into walking with no extra assistance. But to me, stories like that illustrate the need for benchmarks. When development is veering off the path of normal, it’s good to have some indicators to alert us to that fact and so that we can get our children the help that they need to thrive.

However benchmarks work better when understood as window of time rather than an actually date. Babies roll between 4 to 7 months old. Kids learn to read between 4 and 7 years old. It’s a window! Just like your due date was.

Every child develops so uniquely. Benchmarks work better when they are not confused with value measurements. A benchmark can let you know when your child might need some extra help with learning her letters. But it does not in any way reflect the value of your child. A mental challenged child is not worth more than a mental “gifted” one or vice versa. But it’s easy to get caught up in the value connotations of benchmarks.

So here’s to sitting back and enjoying the ride and being content to marvel at the development of your little one without making yourself crazy.


If you enjoyed reading this post, you might like these two articles.

What to do about a new baby and sibling jealousy? Tips for dealing with this issue.

 One of my hypnobirthing moms emailed me today and asked if I had tips for dealing with sibling jealousy following the birth of a new baby.

Here’s the situation : The toddler, we will call Sam, says he loves the new baby, but then tries to scratch his eyes out.  What to do?  Keep Reading



Why Does My Baby Cry? What Do My Baby’s Cries Mean?

Listening to your baby cry is hard.  Not just math equation problem hard… gut-wenching soul-cracking hard.

And the crazy thing is that their cries are designed to invoke that reaction in you.  A baby’s cry is perfectly designed to get you or anyone close by to react.  Scientists have watched what happens inside a mother’s body when listening to her baby cry.  The found her pulse increases, as does blood pressure and tension in the muscles of the body.  Hormonally her body reacts by releasing a sizable dose of stress hormones into her blood system.  Everything inside her screams out to attend to her baby.  A mother is biologically designed to react to her baby’s cries.  Keep Reading


4 Comments leave one →
  1. Leanne permalink
    December 23, 2009 11:14 am

    This blog post came at the perfect time for me! Avi is still not crawling at 10 months and just last night I was asking D “should we have him seen by someone?” Like some doctor/expert person could look at him and determine out of all his wonderful little baby characteristics, if he was fine or not. It wasn’t an idea we entertained for long. I like to remember that he is a little cave baby in a modern world. To him, growth charts and benchmarks mean nothing; his world is milk, cuddles, playing, growing. And that’s just fine 🙂

    • December 23, 2009 8:53 pm

      Leanne, He needs the t-shirt… I’ll crawl when I’m good and ready! 🙂 I love the part about him being a cave baby. That’s so true. Babies are interested in growth charts or benchmarks, parents are. Sometimes I think much of my frustration as a parent comes for the fact that I’m interested in different things that my kids. For example… I’m interested in getting to the kids’ dancing class on time. Ahren is interested in catching snowflakes on his tongue. What are you going do? 🙂

  2. Sarah permalink
    January 5, 2010 10:20 pm

    Marie, I agree with Leanne, this came at the perfect time. I am having such a stressful time with Logan’s potty training. I know that he is a boy of only two but I really think he can do it. I am sure that the reasons he isn’t succeeding have more to do with me than him. However, I am getting so frustrated that he isn’t getting this that I have lost my patience with him. Now I know the whole thing is just stressing him out and he doesn’t want to disappoint me. I know he will do it when he is ready physically and mentally, but it’s hard when I am more than ready. And, as of today, when Logan tried to clean up his own poop at the sitter only by putting it all over her bathroom, I am pretty sure she is more than ready too!

  3. January 10, 2010 7:47 am

    Ahren just started using the potty this week. He turned 3 in Nov and I’ve been trying since last summer. Mostly making myself nuts. He just didn’t seem to get it before last week. It’s awesome when it happens… but getting there isn’t so easy. I too cleaned up a lot of messes and I feel your frustration. 🙂

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