There have been mini-milestones all the way along, of course, from first smile to first roll to first poonami (oh, memories). But it’s towards the second half of the first year that the big ones start kicking in, the things that transform them from a largely useless baby (sorry. They’re cute though! So cute!) to a still fairly useless but increasingly annoying engaging and entertaining toddler. If your baby is doing things at a different pace to their pals, it can be hard not to feel anxious about it, and start frantically googling and comparing notes with every mum you meet. But chill! Babies do things when they damned well want to, thank you very much, and, at this stage, what they do when has very little bearing on the future…
You’re obsessing about: crawling
The situation: Your friends are baby-proofing the shit out of their houses, but your little one is still quite content to sit around grinning, happily playing with toys that are in arm’s reach.
When to get advice: Never. While the majority of babies crawl between six and 12 months, some skip this stage entirely, and bum-shuffle instead, or go straight to cruising. You can try to encourage them by enticing them with toys, but babies are stubborn little monkeys and will do what they want in their own time.
You’re obsessing about: walking
The situation: You’re convinced your baby’s playmates will have run ten marathons before your baby deigns to make it across the other side of the room.
When to get advice: When they’re approaching two. The average age that babies walk is around 13-14 months but there is a HUGE amount of variation (and girls tend to walk slightly earlier than boys), with some strutting their stuff as young as eight or nine months and others staying put until way beyond 18 months. If yours is at the more relaxed end of the scale, we strongly recommend trying to enjoy the relative calm of your days.
You’re obsessing about: talking
The situation: They haven’t made any discernible noises and you just want a conversation, FFS.
When to get advice: Not for AGES. Before 18 months, most babies don’t say much beyond “mama”, “dada” and a few choices animal noises if you’re lucky. After this, their vocabulary explodes, and even more so when they get past two. It’s at their two year health check (which generally happens at more like two and a quarter) that you can raise any concerns and, if necessary, they will be referred to a speech and language specialist.
You’re obsessing about: stuff they can do with their hands
The situation: They seem a bit cack-handed, lacking dexterity with their toys or being a bit rubbish with a fork or spoon. You fear their future career as an internationally-respected artist/musician/nail technician is hanging in the balance.
When to get advice: Again, not until they’re two, when this sort of thing will be checked up on by a health visitor. In the meantime, you can encourage them (and, if they’re in childcare, get their carers in on it too) by playing with building blocks, shape sorters, bricks, puzzles, dough… in fact, most of the toys aimed at this sort of age group are all about the hands.
You’re obsessing about: their size
The situation: You can tell from the clothes size they’re in, or by the comments you get from tactless strangers (“Ooh, she’s a big lass” or “Aww, isn’t he tiny?”) that your little or not-so-little one is above or below average size for their age, and that makes you worry.
When to get advice: Whenever you like. Drop-in weighing clinics aren’t just for newborns – you can take babies of any age, and request that they are weighed and measured, as well as raising any concerns with the health visitors. If your baby has drastically changed centiles since they were tiny, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong – common early feeding issues, the ups and downs of weaning and how active your baby is can all mean that things get skewed along the way.