Having more than one kid is an experience to say the least. Some days it’s good, some days not so great and most days it’s insane. I think we as adults forget that babies are people too, with their own quirks, personalities and characteristics. We expect them to behave like cookie-cutter moulds and perform tasks and milestones on time.
There’s that old adage that says we shouldn’t compare our kids to each other or other babies, but I know how hard it is to avoid that.
“Is she crawling yet?”
“Is she walking yet?”
“Is she talking yet?”
You get bombarded with all these questions and it’s hard not to worry when your second baby has not reached a particular milestone by the same time your first did.
My eldest is a boy and reached all his physical milestones like rolling over, crawling, walking and climbing stairs on schedule. And while he was right on time with talking, my daughter is outstripping him by miles with her talking and comprehension skills.
This whole thing just fascinates me. I don’t mean to compare in a worrying or competitive kind of way, but watching their differences and strengths develop on the daily is amazing.
At 19 months, she’s speaking in 3-word sentences and says “you’re welcome” when someone says thank you. Granted she’s not saying words 100% correctly but they are very discernible and she makes it known, in no uncertain terms, what it is that she wants. At 19 months my son was just about starting to talk and perhaps putting two words together. But at the age of 4, he won’t stop talking so it wasn’t ever really a worry.
- Also see: How does your tot learn?
Nature or nuture?
A question that often floats to the front of my brain is, is she smarter than he was because she’s a girl and girls mature faster? Or is it because she’s a second child and has someone to learn from and copy? Because she copies her brother a lot! It’s uncanny how quickly she picks things up.
While there is no evidence to suggest that girls are smarter than boys, there is scientific evidence to show that girls develop language skills before boys.
According to Dr. David Walsh in an article on PBS, “During infancy the left hemisphere (the brain's language centre for most people) develops before the right for little girls. Even more convincing, females have at least 20% more neurons than males in the brain's Broca area (where we produce language), and they have as much as 18% more volume in the Wernicke's area (where we interpret language).”
So while some of it is down to brain development i.e. nature, I do also think a big part of it is nurture and the fact that she has a sibling to learn things from.
Younger kids often want to keep up with their older siblings and try harder to do so. When I was 16, my youngest cousin was 6 and was a master at the card game Crazy 8, because that’s the game his older siblings and cousins were obsessed with at the time. He was as good as any of us, sometimes better than us.
The first time I realised just how smart he was, was when his Grade R teacher called his mom to tell her that when she asked him what came after 10 he said "Jack".
- Also see: Developmental milestones
The thing about milestones...
The thing about milestones is that your child will eventually reach them. After all, you don’t see many 12-year-olds still crawling. There’s always a broad age gap for when a child should accomplish them but it’s just the nature of a parent to worry when things just aren’t happening. If your child is showing absolutely no interest in moving at all by 1 year then mention it to your paediatrician.
With speech and language delays it can be a bit more difficult to figure out just what is a normal delay and when you’d need to seek help. You can use Parent24's comprehensive list of every developmental milestone as a guide:
Dr. Raj Naranbhai, a paediatrician at Victoria Mediclinic, believes that parents shouldn’t be too concerned if their baby is delayed in a certain milestone. “If all other developmental milestones are appropriate, and if the baby is otherwise physically healthy, she should have normal cognitive and psychomotor development."
He also noted that it was important for parents not to become frustrated, but to react positively to any small progress made by their baby. “A negative parental response may cause the baby to give up upon the effort required.”
How did your children develop differently? Tell us by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org and we could publish your letter. Do let us know if you'd like to stay anonymous.
- Toddler Development & Milestones
- Milestones: our list of articles you have to read
- Preschool Development & Behaviour
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