‘Does she keep eye contact?’ ‘Not yet’
‘Is she supporting her head yet?’ ‘Hmmm she is getting there.’
‘She must be sitting without support by now.’
‘Give her time. She will get there in her time.’
This is what my conversation looks like with people when it comes to milestones and my daughter. She takes time to reach at milestones that most children get to early. It is something I have been struggling with for months and it doesn’t get easy. I even feel like it has somehow made me miss the joy of looking at her grow because my focus is on her reaching some milestone.
Like most mothers out there, I was told that babies should support (note that the word is should) their head by month 3, should be able to sit unsupported by month 6, walk supported by month 8, say baba and mama by month 9, …the list goes on. And if the baby fails to reach that milestone in time, there is either something wrong with the baby or the mother is too clingy and not letting the baby develop well.
So some part of me usually dislikes going for the checkups because of what the visit will bring, going to another specialist, another treatment or medication. There is also that funny thing babies do when you visit the doctor – everything they do at home escapes their mind when the doctor checks their development. A baby that rolls over in the house, all of sudden doesn’t have head control in front of the doctor. Then you will end up at the lab to do some test to understand why. ( I have learned to take a video clip of my daughter while she is active and doing the things she usually do to show the doctor when we visit.)
We have always tried to stay positive and enjoy her growth as much as we can. But I can’t lie that there is always that voice in my head, that keeps on saying maybe we should have done the occupational therapy or given her that medication. The toughest point has been drawing the line, when is a milestone considered delayed? When should one seek medical help? We are aware of the timeline our babies will reach milestones but that does not apply to every child. In my quest to understand delayed milestones, I have learned it is best to seek help if your baby
- At the end of the third month – never seems to focus on your face, is not startling to loud sounds, never smiles or doesn’t follow things with her eyes,
- At the end of the six month – not able to lift the head when on the tummy, her head is still not steady when held upright, is not trying to grasp or swipe at toys, does not respond to sounds around her,
- At the end of the ninth month – is not able to sit even while supported, not making attempts to move around, not reacting to people who care for her regularly or doesn’t babble,
- At the end of the 12th month – is not interested in playing, doesn’t make a range of sounds, is not moving by crawling, scooting or rolling, is not standing up and bearing weight even when supported.
Every child is different and develops at different rate. We as mothers are eager to see them grow and get easily frustrated with delays. A keen mother will always know when a child is not progressing well. Don’t miss out on the joy of looking at your child like me, monitor keenly but enjoy their step by step growth.
This first appeared on The Standard on 16 April 2017