When Your Child Just Misses a Milestone


I’m a planner, both by personality and by profession. When I found out I was pregnant with my first, we stopped at Barnes & Noble before heading to a celebratory dinner. I took whichever books had the most lists: when, what, and ready to put on the calendar. And as the pregnancy with a healthy baby girl progressed, I moved onto the baby books that told me about all the milestones of infancy. Expect a smile at six weeks! Purées by four months! Crawling by eight months! It was just how it was supposed to happen – the books said so. 

child missing a milestoneParents Worry

My chubby cheeked daughter was right on time, healthy, and adorable. And I clearly remember sitting on the sofa with her, exactly six weeks after she was born, and seeing the cutest gummy smile erupt. In the back of my mind there was relief: she’s on schedule; she’s “normal”; she’s “okay”. 

It’s true that when you get pregnant you start worrying and you don’t stop worrying until they’re eighteen (but probably older).

It was the cutest thing when my daughter quickly progressed from crawling to walking on her knees. A little, bald creature scurrying around on two little knees, making noise against the hardwood floors. Friends would visit and laugh at her little antics. Then she’d stand up, grabbing whatever she could hold on to, and move her feet. She was almost walking! The book said somewhere around twelve months, so any day now. 

The Walking Milestone

At the same time, she showed no interest in food outside of formula and milk. It was bottle, and bottle only. Purées? No thanks. A little bit of bread? She’d rather gag. But eventually one night she stole one of her father’s pretzels. And she became an eater. 

So I thought the same would happen with walking, but I found myself asking her pediatrician for help at 18 months. A team from the county came to my door and immediately began telling me what was wrong. “Maybe muscle issues. Maybe tone issues. Maybe a mild form of cerebral palsy.” Then came the consultations with specialists. The problem? She’s stubborn. Then one Saturday night, she stood up and promptly walked out of the living room. We had a walker at 22 months old. 

The Potty Milestone

So I was not at all surprised when she showed no interest in the potty. She was interested, but she had a much easier way to take care of her business. And potty training time came around the first quarantines and Clorox wipes were going for $40 a container on the black market. I was okay with waiting. So we waited for her. We encouraged, but never pushed. We backed off completely when she got a new room and a new baby brother. Then it was time to go back to in-person preschool. Sticker charts, rewards, the works. She’d stay dry at school, but nowhere else. Then, true to form, she started using all the potties she could find on vacation. Done. Only a year later than “normal”.

Every child is different–and that’s okay!

I used to be embarrassed to say that she didn’t walk on her feet until she was 22 months old. Or that she was rocking pull ups at 3 ½. But it’s okay. It’s not a reflection on my parenting skills; it’s just my daughter and her spitfire personality. Just today, I was watching her dance class and she couldn’t quite master something that all of the other girls were doing easily. I wanted to fix her, but she’s not broken. She’s not late. She’s beautiful. She’s fine. She’s oh, so stubborn – a trait that I’m sure will serve her well in the future. My daughter will be one of those trailblazing women that I can’t wait to see, if I can somehow survive her teenage years. She’s on her own schedule. She’s “normal” – whatever that may or may not mean.