Thursday, September 18, 2008

Why You Shouldn't Rush These Milestones

I blame a lot of it on those "parenting books"... you know the ones. They tell us what our child "should be doing", "may possibly be doing", or "might even be beginning to..." at every given month of life. And thus the competition begins. I've had parents try to "compete" with me on all manner of things, from earliest first step, first word, and even first tooth. (And, for the record, it's a safe bet that my kids "lost" every one of those competitions...)

I think perhaps because we're so eager to see these achievements, sometimes we try to rush other things in our baby's life as well. Here are three things I think parents need to think twice about rushing, however. From all I've learned as a parent and all the discussions I've had with experts (and, believe me, I pick their brains every chance I get), these are things that needn't happen earlier rather than later...

  1. Car seat changes- I spoke a little bit about not flipping your car seat from rear- to front-facing before your child is both at least one year old and at least 20 pounds. I think it's also good to note that children can stay rear-facing for even longer and, in most cases, it actually offers extra protection in the event of a crash since it gives them better neck support. Most car seat experts I've spoken with also recommend sticking with a 5-point harness car seat for as long as you can. There's simply no reason to rush into a booster seat. In fact, I just checked in with the car seat "checkers" at the children's hospital this past weekend. They were delighted to see my 44" and 45 lb preschooler still in a car seat.
  2. Getting out of the crib- For safety's sake, you'll want to consider switching your child from a crib to a twin bed (or toddler bed if your crib converts-- but please don't ever buy a separate toddler bed) when your child figures out how to climb out of the crib. And some children do this pretty early on. Others are pretty content to stay in there. And you know what? It won't stunt their development to sleep in a crib. But it will prevent some falls and night-wandering that could be harmful. Our top-notch developmental pediatrician recommends you stick with a crib for as long as you can. She feels the benefits are great.
  3. Giving up a "lovey" at night- Babies and toddlers can get attached to strange objects (just ask my mom about a preschooler and his beloved underpants...). Some children love a special stuffed animal. For some it's a blanket. For my boy (and my sister's boys, for that matter), it was a burp cloth. When he was a baby, A. liked to always hang onto a burpie. In the car. At the doctor's office. Through the grocery store. It's not that way anymore. During the day, I don't think he even thinks twice about his burpie. But at night? That little hand still likes to curl around it and hold it to his face. There's comfort in that. And there's no reason for us, as parents, to take that away. I'm pretty confident he'll have given it up before he heads off to college... but we have fifteen years to work that out.
Babies grow and change so fast. They move from stage-to-stage in the blink of an eye, it seems. Enjoy it! And don't stress about or rush those little milestones...

Tomorrow, I'll be writing about a few milestones you should make sure you push for.


Ryann said...

Ah, the competition for developmental milestones... it's rampant! Since my niece was born full term just 4 days before my 25 weeker, I knew from the beginning what we'd be faced with. It really hasn't been as bad as I thought it would, but maybe that's because Addyson has been fairly advanced when it comes to certain things (most recently walking and animal sounds). While they are technically 3 1/2 months apart gestationally, Addy seems to be reaching most milestones just weeks after her cousin. My family seems to understand the adjusted age thing and realizes that Addy probably "shouldn't" even be able to do some of those things already. We tossed the "What to expect in the first year" book out the window and no longer read those baby websites that discuss such milestones. Even the baby book doesn't really follow the life of our Addy, so we pitched that too. We are just enjoying our miracle for what she is at each given moment and not worrying about anyone else's timeline. I mean, obviously our daughter doesn't eat food by mouth and she's 17 months old... if we were those type of parents that measured milestones, we'd be up a creek! Once again, another great post JessieLeigh!

Nancy Brown said...

I only disagree on one of those points. I don't think it matters if you buy a seperate toddler bed. For me I feel safer moving him to a toddler bed instead of a crib or twin sized bed. They are not expensive and because we are a micro preemie we tend to grow slow. We can use our 50 dollar bed for a good year or more before switching him to something else.

Just My opinonon

JessieLeigh said...

You make a great point about micropreemies staying smaller longer, Nancy. Our daughter (the former micropreemie) has a convertible crib so that she can move into a toddler bed when the time comes.

For our family, a toddler bed would have been wasted money. Much like I always felt those frilly little bassinettes are a waste of money.

But, at the end of the day, we totally have to do what's right for our own kiddos. I'm glad you guys found a bed that's working for you!