Baby Milestones: How Much do They Really Matter?

During the first few weeks of my postpartum journey, I was pretty miserable. I struggled with nursing, my baby had jaundice, and soon enough we were told he had torticollis and inward feet, which required us to do (very uncomfortable) physical therapy with our one month old.

It was excrutiating.

But through all of that, I found the time and energy to follow mommy blogs, forums, etc. I was so excited to know what my little one will develop this week, when he’ll start following me with his gaze, when I can expect that first smile…

But the older he got, the more flexible the milestones got, too.

For example, that first smile comes during week 6, and there really aren’t many differences there.

Meanwhile, anything from 4-6 months is normal when it comes to the baby rolling over, and stranger anxiety can start anywhere from 6 to 12 months.

And this is where I slowly come to the point of this post:

What happens if it’s 6 months and a week, and your baby still isn’t rolling over?

Or they’re 10 months old and not sitting up yet (which is a milestone that should happen by month 9)?

“My Baby Will Do It When They’re Ready”

This is something I keep seeing on the main mom forum I’ visit’m visiting. Whenever a new mom is worried about her baby not meeting the milestones, there’s always 5 other moms saying things like:

“Well my baby is still not rolling over at 7 months, but he’s just lazy.”
“My baby is perfectly healthy — he’ll do it when he’s ready!”

On the flip side, some moms brag about their kids rolling over at two months old, or standing up at five months old. The idea that I keep seeing here is:

“Everything a baby can do by themselves is okay! Don’t try and stop them!”

And boy, are both of those wrong on so many levels.

Late Bloomers vs Medical Issues

If your baby is 5 months and 3 weeks old and not rolling yet, don’t panic — but do try to help them out. Babies have amazing instincts and they are great at learning how to do stuff on their own.

But if you help them by doing some very simple exercises, they’re bound to do it faster. I did that with my baby boy when I saw he would only roll over on one side due to his torticollis. In a matter of days, he picked it up and started rolling around on both sides.

However, if it’s been 6+ months and your baby:

  • Is not showing any signs of trying to roll, such as turning to their side
  • Has been turning to their side for a while but they haven’t been able to go all the way

There’s no shame in going to a physiotherapist to see if your baby’s muscles are okay.

Even if they’re not, most of the time it’s something minor, like low muscle tone. With some exercises and a lot of patience, they’ll get there.

Heck, they may even be too big to do it and just need a diet!

Other times, though, it may be something more serious, and that is scary as hell. But hiding behind the idea that “babies are lazy” or “not ready yet” is a completely understandable way for parents to not have to face something scary.

Milestones are there for a reason. Every normal, healthy baby should be rolling around at 6 months old, and sitting up at 9 months old.

If your baby isn’t, there’s no shame in it — but please take them to the doctor and help them get there!

Baby Geniuses vs Medical Issues

Just like they can be late with their milestones, babies can be early, too.

Now, if your baby is rolling around at 3.5 months, chances are they’re a healthy, active baby that just couldn’t wait for the 4 month mark.

But if that started happening at 2 months — regularly (mind you, my baby rolled onto his back at two months old and couldn’t stop screaming because he did it on accident and wasn’t developmentally ready. Never tried it again before 4 months old, though), then it’s more likely they have an underlying issue.

One thing I keep seeing is that, when moms point this out, they’re almost without fail labeled as jealous.

“You’re just jealous that you’re a bad mom and your baby isn’t standing up yet!”

I mean… Some may be, sure. And to be fair, when I was seeing all these babies sitting up unassisted at 6 months, yes, I was a bit jealous! But I wouldn’t go around telling moms it’s not normal, because for some babies, it is.

Seeing that 5 months old are trying to stand up and being told that “everything a baby can do alone is okay” is a whole different story. Because some babies aren’t geniuses — they simply have issues that can often be corrected.

One of those issues is hypertonia. It means their muscles are overly stiff, which gives them the strength to roll over, or stand up, or whatever else isn’t fit for their tender age.

But it doesn’t mean that’s okay because they can do it alone. Because, if left untreated, this can later cause issues with mobility, even with walking itself.

So please, please get over your pride and fear and if you see your baby is doing something way ahead of schedule, tell your doctor!

So, Do Baby Milestones Matter?

I would say they absolutely do. They aren’t there to make moms anxious (especially when the first few months can make you anxious enough) that their babies are still not doing something other babies are.

They exist to give you a clear way of knowing if your baby is slightly ahead of schedule (which is fine) or way ahead of it (which can often signal a problem).

They’re there so you can get your baby checked before your scheduled pediatrician appointment.

Moms, I know it can be scary, and we all want our babies to be healthy little geniuses.

But if uncovered on time, many of these issues can be easily treated — so let’s try to do just that.

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