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The Unsung Milestones…Stop Worrying Baby Isn’t Walking Yet

The Unsung Milestones...Stop Worrying Baby Isn't Walking YetIt is so, so, so exciting to see your baby take her first steps. The expression of amazement, concentration, and joy on her face, the adorable, wobbly, tentative steps, the priceless moment when they realize that nothing is holding them up. Cue startled expression, loss of balance, and ker-plop onto the floor.

Having spent the last couple of months looking after Daycare Baby, a crawling baby who is now 16 months old, the most common thing I was asked by friends and strangers alike was “is she walking yet?”

She wasn’t, and I know that the average baby starts walking somewhere around their first birthday. So, she’s later than average, but still in the normal range. And just lately, although I know the question is well intentioned, it’s getting just a little annoying.

There’s more to babies that just walking. Do you ever feel that too much pressure is placed on just a couple of milestones, first steps, first word?

$20 robot dogs from the toy section of Target walk and talk. Our babies are infinitely more complex than that, so how about some love for other, less lauded milestones?

Recognizing his/her own name. Babies realize that the word you keep using around them means that you are talking to them somewhere between 5 and 8 months. At birth, babies don’t have much concept of themselves as an individual. Recognizing that they they have a name is part of building their own identity.

Empathy for others. Even as early as six months, babies get upset when other children cry. Learning to understand other people’s emotions is a major factor that separating humans from robot dogs.

Understanding that objects have a function. Before about 12 months, everything that’s not food or other very familiar objects is simply an interesting plaything. Or a boring object. But one day, baby realizes that all these objects like keys, cellphones, hairbrushes, are for something, and that’s when she’ll stop chewing the toy cellphone and instead, hold it to her ear and babble into it.

Building towers from blocks Your budding engineer might be able to do this at 9 months, maybe not until over a year. Stacking things on top of other things helps babies understand how the physical world works.

Sometimes parents can get caught up in the milestone charts, and almost believe that if their baby walks late, then everything about their development is behind. In almost all cases – not true.

Babies have so much to learn, and they all do it in a different order. So the baby who walks late, is busy developing less dramatic, but equally valuable skills. And babies who walk early may learn to do other things a little later. It’s all totally normal.

If you are worried about your baby’s development, check with his/her pediatrician.

What has been your favorite unsung milestone for your baby? One of mine is when my son figured out at only a few months where the milk was, and started yanking my shirt down. OK, only when he did it at home. Another one is when he worked out how to slide down a slide by himself. How about you?

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