Before I had kids I had no real concept of what to expect when it came to baby milestones. I knew they would learn to do certain things like sit, crawl, walk and talk but I had no clue what to expect when, or how to identify the areas my kids were excelling or behind.

It is a bit of a mine field, and when you become a parent you have to learn on the job. Knowing what to expect and how to help them achieve them is a great help – but how do we find out if no one tells you?

Neonatal Baby Milestones

Piglet’s first baby milestones were not the same as your average baby. He was born prematurely and taken to the neonatal unit shortly after birth. There he was placed in an incubator, on oxygen and tube fed. Our early milestones to celebrate were moving to an open cot, learning to feed through a bottle (and then eventually breast) and of course coming home for the first time.

The problem with these milestones is they’re not final. Breathing without oxygen is a huge moment for a neonatal baby, but a few hours later Piglet was back on it again because he wasn’t coping. Some days he would have a few feeds in a row that were fine, but then be too exhausted and go back to requiring tube fed. There is no rule book or guidance for a premature baby and you just have to role with what happens.

A newborn baby wrapped in a white blanket. The baby's feet are the focus of the photoRelated Post: Being A Neonatal Mum

Identifying Baby Milestones

In Piglets first few months I started to get to grips with what to expect, or so I thought. The health visitor would come regularly to check in on Piglet and like most new parents I could proudly confirm that yes he now smiles. But was I noticing whether he turned his head to the sound of my voice? Was he reaching out to grab at items? Following us around the room with his eyes?

I had no idea! It was pretty clear I was going to have to do a bit of research in to what was coming next, but where to start? It didn’t take me long to work out that asking other mothers was a bad place to start. Parents love to brag – we all do whether is subconscious or not. If you’re already feeling uncertain or unsure of what is “normal” in terms in baby development then asking another parent can often just make you feel worse about things.

A toddler on a rug in the forrest. He is wearing stripy trousers and a white hoodie. He is smiling and has blonde hairRelated Post: What To Expect At 4 Months Old

Emma’s Diary have a month by month baby development guide, giving you details on the things you can expect in the first 23 months of your baby’s life. It provides information on not only the big stuff, learning to walk or eating expectations, it also has little snippets on what is common in may toddlers. For example, JJ is 16 months old and it states that is likely that he will become fascinated by eyes, trying to poke everyone and anyones given the chance. While that may not be true for him at the moment, he has a fairly similar interest in mouths. It’s nice to know that is normal!

What If Your Baby Misses The Milestones?

The experience for our family is that many of the milestones have been missed at the stage you would usually expect. Both my boys were premature and so for the first 2 years of their lives their age is adjusted to account for the delays. My health visitor has been my first port of call when questioning the children’s development. She has provided support and guidance to make sure both of them reach their potential, supplying tips and ideas for developing speech and language at home as well and knowing when is the right time to seek further medical help.

A young boy sitting on a bench playing with brightly coloured skittles

It is important to remember that each baby is different. There is no one size fits all when it comes to babies, so although we can start to predict what to expect based on a baby’s age it is very normal for them to reach certain developmental milestones early and be a few weeks or even months behind in others. Don’t be concerned if your child’s developmental doesn’t exactly match that of the pattern provided by Emma’s Diary, they will work to their own timescale and it is only a guide. That said, if you have any concerns about your baby’s development then please contact your health visitor or GP.

This post was sponsored by Emma’s Diary.

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