Baby Milestones: Much ado about nothing
“Are you reading to your child? I read to her when she was still in my belly. Now she is five months and goes to sleep with her book.”
‘My son knew all his nursery rhymes by the time he was two.’
‘My daughter can recognise all the animals in the book.’
‘I played classical music every day. It’s great for developing their math faculty. My son is just three and he already knows numbers from one to hundred.’
Yes, good for you. But what will he do when he is eight? Derivatives?
Sorry, but mommies showing off baby milestones just make me retch. It almost feels like you are taking credit for someone else’s work.
Whatever you may think, or no matter how many books you read, babies are always ahead of you. By the time you have got your act together about baby basics – what to pack in the baby bag, what to do when the baby throws a tantrum halfway into a car ride when you are the only person in the car, how to change a baby in the car without giving yourself or the baby a nervous breakdown, what to do with engorged breasts – it’s time for baby milestones.
Poor babies! They don’t even know that long before they are born, they are being mapped. Are they kicking well, moving their hands enough, sleeping in the right position? Are they fluttering, do they sleep when they are meant to sleep, play when they are meant to play? Right from how he or she is born to how well he or she latches on, how much does she cry, how many feeds does she take, how many times did it take for her to produce canary yellow potty, it’s performance anxiety from the word go!
Ever heard women compare notes about the ‘kicks’? That is where it all starts.
‘Oh, mine kicks like a football player.’
‘Really? I can hardly feel any movement.’
Then there is the whole birth-weight business
‘So what was her birth-weight?’
‘Mine was huge. 3.6 kg!’
When mothers meet, they inadvertently exchange notes on whether their child is turning, sitting, teething, crawling, standing, walking, or talking.
‘So is he walking?’
‘Not really, but with support, yes…’
‘Is he talking?’
‘Not yet, but he is just fifteen months.’
‘Mine started talking at eleven months!’
I was part of this pro natural-birth network where women exchanged information and experiences on birthing, lactation, pre- and postnatal health and everything mommy and baby. I was shocked by the number of queries posted by members on ‘How to provide the best stimulation to babies to improve creativity/cognitive skills.’ It seemed a bit ironic for someone to intervene so much with the baby’s development after strongly advocating the natural path.
Once the child starts crawling and moving about, the parental units are usually left tearing their hair about ‘how to provide visual stimulation’. This is no mean feat, because unlike a movie or a circus or a magic show, this has to be done pretty much 24x7 (barring the few hours the baby spends sleeping).
Babies have a lot of time. This despite the fact that they take a couple of naps, go for a walk (either in their strollers or on their own twos) at least once a day, eat five to six meals a day, bathe, poop and pee a lot, and change more often than you. They still have enough time left. Filling a baby’s day with activities is harder than you think. A single day for the baby is hundreds of five-minute pockets (that’s the threshold of baby’s attention span for anything other than sleep). How to fill those millions of pockets, is something you simply have to figure out ‘on the go’. No matter how many books you read or online forums you are a part of or activity centres you line up to, there will be plenty of room left for more. Babies have an insatiable appetite for raising the bar. So it is not about having a plan B, but a plan C and D as well.
For more on pregnancy and the art of baby-maintenance, read “I’m Pregnant, Not Terminally Ill, You Idiot!”
Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty images
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