Best way to avoid parental panic

By Published On: April 25th, 2012

Written by: Christopher Spicer April 24 2012 If you’re a […]

Written by: Christopher Spicer

If you’re a parent who really likes an unnecessary dose of panic, then I highly recommend you religiously follow growth charts and compare your baby to others. It may be the quickest way to turn a relaxed parent into a bundle of nerves.

I think we’re as “worry-free” parents as possible, and Everett is developing at a decent pace. The moment we glance at those pesky growth charts or hear about someone else’s baby, then there are a few ounces of panic that start to trickle in.

I remember a few weeks back Emily got a little nervous about Everett’s lack of grabbing for toys. He would follow them with his eyes, and he would be more than happy to laugh or talk to them. He never made any effort to actually grab for them. If you put the toy (or your hair or clothing) right against his hand then he’d usually put it in a death grip. He doesn’t really seem to understand his arms and hands are useful at actually grabbing things (there much better to just stare and laugh at). It concerned Emily, even if all growth charts have stated “the baby may start grabbing objects at three to four months.” I’ve reconciled it with the fact Everett is taking after his father, and doesn’t believe in doing any more work than he has to do. As Emily desperately waves the toy in front of Everett’s face, he is likely thinking, “Why would I take the effort to grab this thing when I can see it just fine with you holding it for me?” If anything, it shows my son already knows how to delegate and is ready to be a manager.

Emily recently started looking at Facebook pictures of other babies (another recipe for panic), and noticed a few babies seemed to have mastered tummy time better than Everett. The babies were proudly lifting up their heads and seemed to have figured out how to effectively use their arms. Everett enjoyed tummy time for about a whole three minutes, and after that only lifts up his head to properly voice his protest of this new position. He also seems to rely solely on his neck strength to lift up his head and sees the arms as simple decoration attached to his pudgy body. Even though he may not be the master of tummy time, Everett actually has a pretty strong core and is able to sit and stand with the most minimal of assistance (we just need to lightly hold him around his waist and he’ll hold himself up to stand).

I’ll sometimes be ready to engage in my parental right of bragging about my son, and then stumble upon an article or talk to a parent that suddenly spirals me into parental shame. I hear about babies who are three months old and sleeping for 9 hours through the night, and suddenly our five hours of sleep doesn’t appear to be so impressive. Parents will talk about their baby who can roll over onto their tummy, and I’m left with a response like, “Everett could move right off the change table if I get distracted by bright lights.” Though it seems that major risk of injury isn’t something a parent should brag about. It can be a little deflating hearing about great baby accomplishments that your child hasn’t quite reached yet.

The parents with the super babies may think I’m making excuses, but the reality is, growth chart and progress is pretty overrated. I realize I have cause for concern if Everett still doesn’t reach for objects when he is one-year-old or he expects me come to his school to change his diaper. It is important to be able to follow the progress of your baby. There also usually isn’t a reason to start panicking when your baby hasn’t reached everything at their stage of the growth development chart. Last week, I talked about how the greatest piece of advice I was given is finding out “what works for you” as a parent, because every family is different. When it comes to progress, every baby is different and is going to grow at their own pace. I’m not saying there aren’t babies that may need extra help for development, but I am also learning a baby’s future isn’t doomed just because he doesn’t have the immediate urge roll on to his tummy.

It is fun watching my son develop and grow. I love experiencing all his accomplishments and major feats. It is far more enjoyable and wonderful when I remember not to compare him to other babies, but instead remember Everett is a wonderful baby that will grow to be a fascinating individual (or maybe I’m just trying to console myself over the whole not sleeping through the night thing).