There’s an obsession with milestones. From the moment they’re out, we’re waiting to see our little ones focus, smile and laugh, then role, grab and crawl, cruise, clap, wave, dance, eat, build, sort, waddle and speak. Should parents be so keen? Why don't we hear about the downsides?
We might be keen on seeing the milestones because we’re building little people, so we like to see when the next brick is firmly in place; or we’re being competitive with other parents because our kid is obviously the best. Dads are generally allowed to be more open about this, although I’ve seen a few mums beam when their baby roles over and 4 months and the 5 month old next to them is struggling to lift its head.
But the big reason is probably that we’re excited about the next new phase. It’s like upgrading your phone, you enjoyed the baby belly shuffling their way round and speaking gibberish, but they just got upgraded and can now move on 4 limbs and shout ‘poo’ at strangers on the bus. Great! What we forget as parents is that learning to crawl, and then walk raises your stress levels a lot. We like milestones because we don’t realise the added stress before the upgrades settle in to our little cutie piglets.
And no one tells you about the milestones that only have down sides. I can’t find anywhere in the milestone websites or books when babies are meant to get really opinionated and start deciding that parents no longer know best. I estimate between 10 and 14 months. Here are a couple of other ‘milestones’ that make parenting more difficult:
1: Pushchair planking (8-11 months)
They may love being out, but getting them into the pushchair turns into a wrestling match at this age. Someone needs to design a convex shaped pushchair seat. An especially tough milestone when combined with the discovery of the strap release button.
2: Demolishing bookshelves and dvd racks (7-10 months)
This morning this upgraded to removing the dvds from their boxes and licking them. Yummy.
3: Danger magnetism (9-12 months)
Little Bear: ‘But why would I play on the matt with the baby toys when I could jump of the coffee table and grab the knives in the dishwasher?’ For more on danger magnetism click here.
4: Nappy changing resistance (7-8 months)
I use to find nappy changing a breeze. Little Bear would just lay there smiling while his business is sorted. Then, suddenly, one day he decided that being on his back for nappy changing was overrated. Angry shouting following the struggle with Pappa to keep him from throwing himself over the edge of the changing table. A strategically placed angry foot into the poo filled nappy. The Sudocrem thrown on to the floor. Now the only way to change his nappy is with an iPad or with him standing up.
5: ‘How dare you stop me playing with your toys’ (6-9 months)
Whatever is mine is his. Little Bear takes every object of value, my laptop, phone, keys and even my morning cereal bowl and decides it may as well be his, and that I’m an a-hole if I try to stop him deleting my recent blog post.
6: Eye poking (4 months)
Tends to coincide with nose poking and ear licking.
6b: Sadism with hysterical eye poking (8-11 months)
7: ‘Sleep is for loosers, I will always be awake’ (*through tired tears) (12-13 months)
Particularly dangerous if coinciding with the physical milestone of not fitting in the bouncy chair anymore
8: Biting (10-14 months)
Everything is worth a bite, especially parents. When Little Bear gets excited, he’s started squeezing Pappa and Mamma in hysterics and clamping his little teeth on our arms. Our yelp then prompts either a giggle or a laugh (depending on why he’s excited). A few weeks ago we got an ‘injury’ report from nursery. He bit someone and they bit him back. The first of many such notes we’ll be receiving as he grows up, I’m sure.
9: ‘Only daddy or mummy can carry me’ (11-13 months)
But you were fine being handed around a few weeks ago, why now, when I’m exhausted, must you be attached to my belly or hip when other people are around!
9: Food belongs on the floor (6-8 months)
We have to provide Little Bear with way more food than he’ll eat each snack time. Something’s happening in his little head: ‘One bit for Little Bear… two bits for the floor. One bit for Little Bear, one bit for Pappa’s eye, and two bits for the floor’
But there are also a couple of good’ens that they don’t tell you about either. Such as:
1: Become properly ticklish (4-7 months)
2: Hysterical when being chased (6-9 months)
3: Starts laughing at their own burps, or anything you repeat three times (10-14 months)
And this is only to one year. As they get more opinionated, the list of unmentioned milestones will no doubt get longer every month.
I'm Dave, dad of Little Bear. Also known as 'Pappa' to the little man as we try and bring out his Swedish roots