Why you shouldn’t stress too much about developmental milestones

Children are individuals, individuals are different, and different isn’t abnormal

If there is one thing new parents obsess about, besides the very existence of their new bundle of joy, is their baby’s milestone. A lot of these milestones are taken either from books, or their peers. The latter is based on comparison? “Is your little one walking yet? Oh, mine is not yet, should I be worried?”

The reality of being a child is that they hardly reach their milestones as per the textbook. As much as there is no parenting textbook with religious do’s and don’ts, there isn’t a religious one about milestones either.

Parents need to note that no one kid is the same. Some children’s brains are more developed than others, so one toddler could know how to count from 1-10 before they turn two. Another toddler would probably not even care about counting until they turn three. Does this mean the other one is slow?

Developmental milestones are very important. They are an indication that your little one is adjusting to his/her new environment. It shows that they are learning to use those little bodies like lifting their heads, rolling, moving their eyes with moving objects, grabbing on to toys, etc. It is therefore important to track your child’s progress.

But there is a fine line between checking progress and obsessing.

My daughter was no walking when she turned a year old. I was livid as another mom told me that hers was walking at around 10 months. Can you imagine the extent of my anxiety at the time? I even pushed out her 1-year birthday party because I was not willing to deal with the “oh, she is not walking yet” comments.

Comparing your child to others can be quite detrimental to your sanity. It was to mine. At the time, you cannot even help it. You find yourself sitting at the park with other moms and children looking to see how advanced yours is in comparison to others.

Typical milestones

3 months

-Can follow moving objects with eyes
-Knows mom’s face amongst a crowd of people
-Can identify the direction in which sound is coming from

6 months

-Sits on their own
-Can respond when her name is being called
-Can move things from one hand to another

9 months

-Starts to utter words such as “baaa”
-Points at things with her/his fingers
-Attaches to familiar people or toys e.g blankets

12 months

-Can do gestures like hello and bye
-Responds to basic commands like “sit down”
-Can identify objects when they are named.
-May be able to stand
-May be able to take a few steps on their own

Operative words with the last two: MAYBE. I am emphasizing this particular one because I have seen parents getting anxiety attacks because their little ones weren’t walking by 13/14 months. I had to sit down with one mom who thought her daughter had a defect because she couldn’t walk on her own. She could walk when balancing with things, but not independently. My entire speech to her felt like a Ted Talk. “Children are individuals, individuals are different, and different isn’t abnormal”.

2 years

-Potty trained
-Can copy words and actions
-Can use two-word phrases
-Can steadily walk, run and kick a ball
-Can identify objects or animals on books

Listen, my daughter is almost two and we are nowhere near her being a fully-fledged potty trained human. Am I worried? Not even a single bit. Do you know how emotional that whole process is? I am taking it a day at a time, at her pace. Next thing my daughter is an emotionally scarred human being because I traumatized her with the potty. No, thank you.

My happy very healthy baby defied a lot of these. As I said, she was not walking by her 1st birthday, and at the rate, things are going, I don’t think we are going be having coherent conversations soon. This, though, does not warrant a visit to the Dr’s rooms. I have learned that my little one will surely tell me when she is ready to talk. She sure communicated when she was ready to reach every other milestone.

My niece was having full-blown conversations on my sisters back when she was a year old, and not walking. According to the milestones chart, her development needed to be the other way around

My point?

Screw it!

Allow your child to be their own person. If you instinctively feel that there is something wrong, then seek help. If you think there is something wrong because Thembi’s daughter knows the ABC and she is only 1, then, honestly, screw it.


Karabo Parenty Post BioKarabo Motsiri is a first-time mom, over-sharer, lover of life, chronic napper and married to her best friend. She loves a good party because the dance floor is her happy place. She enjoys good food, good conversations, laughs a little too hard, and cries during every episode of Grey’s Anatomy. She started her blogging journey because she wanted to share all the ups and downs of being a young modern mama in South Africa. Her blog Black Mom Chronicles has been featured on Ayana Magazine & SA Mom Blog. She has enjoyed airtime on Power FM and frequently writes for the parenting section of Saturday Citizen. She also works with MamaMagic on their Product Awards, Milestones Magazine, Heart to Heart blog, and the Baby Expo, which is South Africa’s biggest parenting expo. 

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