How To Be Satisfied With Your Toddler’s Milestones

shutterstock_121592785__1379768540_38.122.72.170Milestones. They stress all parents out, don’t they? Well now that I am a mom of two – I am still totally confused a pro and know everything so I’m going to give you some advice about learning to be satisfied with your toddler’s development. Ready?

Lower Your Expectations. Period. The end.

Walking

Most kids take their first steps around their first birthday. I’ve seen kids at the park walking at 10 months. I’ve seen mothers still trying to get their 16-month children interested. I sat next to a woman in Barnes and Noble who introduced her son to me and then said, “This is Lucas. Say “hi” Lucas! Say, “I’m 17-months-old and I still have no desire to walk or talk!” Ugh. That made me feel icky. You could hear the disappointment in her voice.

Look, I get it. My son walked “late” too. He stood up at about 13 months, and just proceeded to stand straight up without taking a step until he was almost 15 months. Here’s what Babycenter has to say about it:

Don’t worry if your child is one of the later ones – what’s important is the progression of skills. If your child was a little late learning to roll over and crawl, chances are he’ll need a few extra weeks or months for walking as well. As long as he keeps learning new things, you don’t have to be too concerned.

Talking

By his first birthday, your child will probably begin to use one or two words meaningfully. 

Nope. Mine didn’t. I swear when he was about 6 months old he started saying Mama and Dad – but even those words seemed to fade away for a time. He wasn’t speaking by his first birthday. Certainly not in any “meaningful” way. Now he is almost three and he speaks all day long. Guess what? He still doesn’t always respond when we ask him questions. Sometimes he’s just like, leave me alone. Other times he refuses to shut up. Kind of like myself, and pretty much everyone I know.

Here’s what Babycenter has to say about it:

Don’t worry if he struggles to get his meaning across now and then. This frustration is actually a healthy sign that he’s trying hard to communicate and cares whether you understand him.

Socialization

My almost three-year-old notices other kids and they crack him up. He doesn’t hit them or always try to steal their toys. He says thank you when they give him his toys back. He has a new sister – and for the most part he really doesn’t care that she exists. But when he does notice her, he says Hi, Frankie! and is “gentle” with her. Is this good enough socialization for a 3-year-old? I don’t know. I’m just glad he’s not biting anyone.

I’m not making light of developmental delays. Some delays should be examined further and early to help children. I’m just saying that my observation is that a lot of us are spinning our wheels and stressing out about whether our kids are “keeping up,” and we’d all do good to relax a little and enjoy this very fleeting moment of their lives when they’re small, rough drafts of human beings.

(photo: Vitalinka/ Shutterstock)

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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    • keelhaulrose

      It’s so easy to forget that kids are different, and you can’t judge them against each other. My now five year old was speaking in full sentences at 18 months and would carry on meaningful conversations. My two year old isn’t talking yet (we’re starting to work with a speech therapist). When I worked in the toddler room at my daycare we’d get 12 month old walkers, and we’d be begging some 17 month olds to please take a step soon so we could stop carrying them to the playground. Don’t get me started on potty training. Okay, one story. We had a little girl who had it down at two and a half. She was convinced she had the magic touch and her son would be done at the same time. I left when he had just turned four, and was out of diapers for a month. He just wouldn’t stop playing to use the bathroom.

    • Emil

      My first was a little on the late side with everything and I couldn’t stop freaking out about it. Every time I saw other kids doing things she couldn’t do it made me worry that something was wrong. I’m trying to keep a lid on it with my second, we’ll see if I’m successful.

    • Paul White

      I was mildly sort of worried about hte rolling over milestone. After that I didn’t give a damn.
      Seriously, he’ll do what he will on those. If you give me or him grief for it I’ll rip you a new asshole if I can (I don’t play nice when my kid’s concerned).

      • Blueathena623

        I hate the term mama bear, but I was surprised by the amount of anger I felt the first time I saw a kid being mean to my kid. And he didn’t even cry, just looked at me with this confused look because he didn’t understand why they couldn’t both play with the toy. I reminded myself that a 31 one year old taking on a toddler isn’t a fair fight, but ohhh I wanted to throttle the little snot.

      • ElleJai

        I discovered my mama bear yesterday when I saw bite marks on my 14 month old’s hand. Childcare dealt with it, but there was that first instinct of “I wanna bite that precious snowflake for touching my son!”

    • NicknamesAreDull

      I wasn’t really concerned with my daughter’s milestones. I think it was because I had never really spent a lot of time around babies, and I forgot to read all the parenting books people gave me. I just kinda accepted when my daughter did something kinda exciting.

    • Blueathena623

      My 19 month old is in speech therapy. Before he was born I worked 6 years at a school with a speech and language emphasis, so yes, I was neurotic about it. At 12 months he was barely babbling. At 15 months he was babbling some, but still not words. I actually started the process to get him speech therapy at 14 months, but he didn’t actually start it until 18 months. He has a few words now, but its still mostly prompted (except he will sometimes say “more” for chocolate pudding without me asking).
      On the one hand, I understand that people were trying to make me feel better by telling me “oh such and such kid didn’t say a word until 2 and then spoke in complete sentences”. However, there are also a lot of kids who aren’t talking at 2 . . . and then still don’t talk.
      Maybe he would have started saying words at 19 months even without speech therapy, but I wasn’t going to take that chance.

      • Paul White

        Chocolate leads to speech.
        I can get behind that.

      • CrushLily

        My 2.3 year old also doesn’t talk. That is, he ‘talks’ he just doesn’t say actual words. About 80% of the time, we can understand what he wants through pointing and gesturing and the rest of the time he just has to sweat it out until he gives up. The one saving grace is that he does not care in the slightest that he doesn’t talk. He has his toddler moments, but he is on the most part very happy and engaged.
        I’ve had ‘Einstein didn’t talk until he was seven!’ and ‘one day he’ll just talk in complete sentences!’ and ‘well all his needs are being met so he doesn’t need to talk (i.e. its your fault)’ and ‘you should just stop responding to non-verbal communication (because yeah, punishing my kid for not saying a word he hasn’t said before is completely fair) and ‘He’s a boy, boys always talk late’ and my personal favourite ‘You really don’t want him to be autistic.’ That was my mother-in-law. Supportive is not her middle name.

        I got on to speech therapy by 14 months as well as a whole pile of other assessments. The whole process has been about teaching us how to encourage him to talk by using small words, letting him take the lead etc, because you are not going to be able to make him talk unless he wants to. At this age, I take solace in the fact that his little friends don’t care he doesn’t talk. But I worry that he will fall behind so much that by four, when kids start to notice differences in other kids and he goes to kinder, he may not be able to defend himself, not have the confidence to ask questions in class and this may impact his learning.

        But, in the end, we just have to wait for him to come to it himself. And hey, its not terminal cancer or anything is it?!

      • Blueathena623

        Ah yes, meeting his needs and not giving in. Up until our current speech therapist, no one really got that that technique didn’t work for him. He’s so easy going/attention span on a gnat that for 99% of things he didn’t care if he got it. “You want the ball? Ball” and he’s all “ehh, kinda, but this stick is just as good, so you know what, you keep it. My gift to you.” The three things he really wanted — food, water, or his bottle — he’d get so worked up, and I’m not going to withhold water from my kid. The 4th thig he wants — to be picked up — we got some progress with, but he learned (and yes, I gave in, because it was something) that any sound worked, so it would vary, but it wasn’t a word.
        Our breakthrough was action, since he does love to move and destroy. So we did “ready, set, go” and worked on the “go”, and if he said go he got to go down the slide or get pushed in the swing or knock blocks over or whatever. So now my days are filled with “go go go go go”.
        I will say that he still does not point or gesture, hence the added incentive to get him talking. Otherwise its just him crying and me running through the list, trying to figure out what he wants.

      • CrushLily

        Argh, sorry readers, I pressed the wrong ‘reply’!

      • Rose

        My son, (27 months) is also functionally mute. He says about 10 words, and most of them are indistinguishable to anyone but me and my husband. He’s been in speech therapy since 18m, and it’s been slow. His SPL thought he had Childhood Apraxia of Speech, but that’s kinda gone to the wayside and now he’s just ‘delayed’.

        Our latest “breakthrough” was the word ‘yeah’. It’s difficult when his toddler buddies are speaking in sentences, and then there’s my kid, who can’t say the word “car” (comes out as a soft ‘cuh’.) Comparison is the thief of joy. I need to get that tattooed on my arm.

        Oh, and I tried withholding juice until he said the word, and I got a full-blown meltdown from my normally mellow son. Frustration only breeds more frustration for toddlers.

      • CrushLily

        That is so true. It appears we have the same child.
        It is very difficult to find a balance between giving him an incentive to talk and punishing him for not talking. I have crossed that line a few times and then realised I was in the ‘if I give in now he’s going to know if he keeps up with this behaviour he’ll get what he wants’ all because I wouldn’t pick him up because he didn’t say ‘up’. In the end, he just walked anyway.

      • CrushLily

        It sounds like we are all cursed with these mellow easy-going kids! You don’t realise how much early talking is about the kid making demands until you have a kid who is just ‘meh – you won’t give me it? I’ll just do it myself then – whatever.’
        I have had EXACTLY that conversation about the ball. And the whole ‘ahh’ in response to everything. It happens so often that sometimes I don’t notice when he has said a word properly and I think I imagined it.
        Blueathena: the ‘pointing with purpose’ didn’t come until about two months ago, so after he’d just turned two. He still doesn’t shake his head yes or no though. I have found a music therapy class very helpful for responsive gestures, plus he really enjoys it. We are even getting some spirit fingers with ‘Twinkle twinkle little star’ these days. Now if he’d just say ‘twinkle’ or ‘star’ or you know, anything that sounds like it.
        One day I said to him, ‘kid, are you ever going to talk?’ and he looked at me and said, ‘nuh’. He will do anything he can not to have to talk. I think he is just smarter than me.

      • Blueathena623

        We do a music class as well, and I think it helps. He just started the very, very basics of itsy bitsy spider.
        But like your son, he’s happy. And outgoing. He is the used car salesman of babies. And I like to think, in the end, this social ness is going to be what gets him talking. He loves other kids so much that once his cohort is all speaking pretty decently, he will pick it up rather quickly just because he will want to really interact with other kids. At least this is what I tell myself when I read on Facebook that yet another of my friends’ kids half his age is saying mama.

      • CrushLily

        Its amazing how being happy, friendly and sociable covers the non-talking quite well. I’ve also been able to get him to do quite a few things if I sing it as ‘If you’re happy and you know it [insert action here]. I find he is more willing to mimic the word if I say it in a singsong voice. Mostly he just laughs as if to say, ‘yeah that’s the word, thanks!’
        I console myself that he can catch, kick and throw a ball like a five year old. So at least our plan to turn him into a professional tennis/golf/soccer player and live off the proceeds is still intact.

      • Blueathena623

        Do we have the same kid? Mine is not as big on catching, and only moderate on throwing, but he can kick (dribble?) a golf ball around a field like no one’s business. Also keeping fingers crossed for soccer scholarship.

    • ECox525

      I’m sorry, but I can’t help but there should be some mention in this article about early intervention or early childhood services. Granted, not every “delay” is actually that, or warrants interventions, but some genuinely do, and the main person who is being disserviced in those cases are the child if appropriate interventions aren’t provided. I am not saying the authors child needs services, but often time agents are second guessing weather their child needs assistance, and my concern that too much “awwww, don’t worry about it” can discourage parents from discussing these concerns with professionals.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      My kid was a relatively late crawler (just before 10 months) and I tried not to stress about it too much though it was hard not to. I ended up getting her to crawl one day by setting up the MacBook on the floor with photobooth on….so basically, she started crawling to get closer to that other baby who looked a lot like her.

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