Baby & Toddler

Hitting Milestones, Are You Looking For the Right Ones?

Between birth and bar mitzvah, our kids go through a million changes and achievements.

And not surprisingly, we parents get a little obsessed about milestones. There are the typical ones that get all the press—rolling over, sitting up, starting solids, crawling, walking and talking. It’s always exciting to see your baby become less of a poop machine and more of a little human, but in my experience, most of the major milestones are seriously overrated.

Think about it. The baby can roll over, and all of a sudden you’re worried about SIDS. She starts eating solids, which means you need to start making (or in my case, buying) all those nasty little purees, and then you get to worry about whether or not baby is eating her vegetables. Don’t forget about the clean-up after every meal—not just the table, but the floor, the walls, the baby, and the baby’s diapers, which are now shockingly stinky. Once they start crawling, if you take your eyes off of them even for a minute they’re poised to fall down the stairs, , and even though it’s helpful when they can communicate, once they start talking, sometimes you just wish they would, well, stop.

In truth, it’s not the milestones you read about that are the most important. It’s those minor, less well-known milestones that make me the most proud. Recently, my baby began consistently transferring her toys from one hand to the other so I can pull her hands through the sleeves of her little shirt when I dress her. This was an incredibly helpful development, as we no longer have mini-tantrums every morning and evening when I have to briefly take her toys away.

Last week, my toddler finally agreed to not only sit in the main part of the shopping cart, but also to let me pack the food in around her. Those of you who have ever tried to go to the grocery store with two kids, neither of which are willing to ride in a sling or backpack, can probably appreciate the significance of this development. I can now go grocery shopping with relative ease with both girls when I need to, rather than carefully planning my trips for when the girls are in daycare or my husband is home.

There are also the Jewish milestones that don’t necessarily merit a notice in the synagogue newsletter, but make a Mama kvell nonetheless. There’s the first time my daughter sang the
to her little sister at bedtime, or just last Friday night, when she started singing the
along with my husband and me. Hearing her little voice fumble through the borei pri almost brought tears to my eyes. (Or maybe it was the fatigue. Hard to know.) These Jewish developmental moments are especially meaningful to me, because they’re evidence that our daughters are learning about their culture and their heritage. They’re learning the same words that their ancestors have been saying for generations.

So if your kid doesn’t crawl on time, or talks late, or spits out her vegetables, don’t worry. She’ll come up with her own special milestone that’ll bring tears to your eyes some other time. It might be minor, but it’s still meaningful.

Carla Naumburg

Carla Naumburg, PhD, is a clinical social worker and writer. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post,The Huffington Post,,, The Jewish Daily Forward, and Psychology Today. She is the author of two books, Parenting in the Present Moment: How to Stay Focused on What Really Matters (Parallax, 2014) and Ready, Set, Breathe: Practicing Mindfulness with Your Children for Fewer Meltdowns and a More Peaceful Family (New Harbinger, 2015). Carla grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the Bay Area of California, and she currently lives outside of Boston with her husband and two young daughters. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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