Let me just start off by saying that every baby is different in their developmental stages and at hitting baby milestones and there are no right or wrong age for anything, within reason of course. I know it’s sometimes scary as a parent to feel like your child should be doing something by now just because little Johnny down the street was doing it at that age. It’s even worse to have someone you trust such as a professional suggest something may be wrong with your child simply because your child has slightly missed the mark on the milestone chart. That’s what happened to me.
I can remember when my son was oh, I guess around a year and a half maybe and really wasn’t using many words at all, if any. As far as I had been concerned he communicated just fine… by pointing and grunting. I remember I would reply to his grunts with “use your words please, tell mommy what you want” and of course, he still didn’t but I never worried about it. Honestly, I had never even given it much thought at all. I guess I was just really enjoying him the way he was and being his mom, I had never once thought he was anything but perfect. That is until while at a regular well visit check-up at his pediatrician’s office, the nurse practitioner informed me that my son should be talking at his age (milestone mark is around 13 months) and that he should even know a certain number of words (I don’t remember how many, like around a 100 or so is what she told me and I remember feeling like, oh my, that’s a lot) and I should consider taking him to see a speech therapist. What? I was now frantic, my gosh, there’s something wrong with my child! He hardly uses any words much less a hundred or more… Panic!
I went home and fretted and stressed all afternoon and of course, I frantically informed my husband the minute he walked in the door “there’s something wrong with our son!!” “He should be talking by now!” My husband didn’t seem too worried by my news but I quickly assumed he was overloaded from work and the severity of what I had just informed him of would sink in soon enough and he would surely become as worried as I was now that this “imperfection” had been pointed out to me, and by a professional none the less!
“Is there something wrong with my child that he’s not talking yet” ran through my mind over and over and I actually considered setting up an appointment. Then I decided to call my support person, my mother, as well as several other friends and family members to ask their advice.
Every single one of them responded with something like this… “oh, that’s just hogwash” or “that’s a bunch of bologna” or “who told you that sh**”? Everyone advised me to not worry about it and not waste my money or time going to a speech therapist… not at this point anyway. If down the road he was still not talking then they might be concerned but everyone pretty much agreed that “he would talk when he was darn good and ready” and you know what, he did!
And the funny thing is that once he started talking, I guess around age two or two and a half, his vocabulary was amazing!! It was like over-night that the words began to flow out of his little mouth like honey and there was actually no turning him off sometimes! It actually blew me out of the water at how articulate he was and his vocabulary, well they were the words of a much older child (I do take credit for that part as I always tried to consciously use a variety of words and never used a lot of baby talk with him) but he had actually absorbed all of it and when ready, in his own good time and on his own, chose to “use his words”.
Even complete strangers we had never met and didn’t know his history of muteness were amazed by his new found skill. I literally had this same situation happen twice with him while shopping at two different stores, other customers in the stores commented on how well he talked and said that by looking at him, he did not look old enough to talk as well as he did. One lady told me, “I heard someone talking and I thought it was five or six year old but when I looked down, it’s a toddler, he looks too small to talk so well!” Then I actually had the same thing happen again at another time and the stranger’s response was almost exactly ditto.
So the moral of my story is, don’t fret and stress over milestones too much! Let your baby be himself and try hard not to compare to other children or take too seriously one person’s advice. Your child will reach his milestones when he’s darn good and ready!
Do always seek the advice of your child’s doctor if you think something is way off or really wrong as I am in no way advocating not listening to your child’s doctor but get a second opinion, take some time to think every thing through before totally freaking out, seek the advice of trusted friends and family, listen to your own instincts and stop worrying about it if it’s nothing too serious! Life is short and they grow up way too fast to spend too much time sweatin’ the small stuff that in the end and years later really won’t mean much at all!
Milestone charts are meant as a guide. Remember developmental milestones are things most children can do by a certain age with the key word being most, not all. Use the charts to track your baby’s development but don’t freak if your child doesn’t fall directly within the guidelines.