The other day, a woman I barely know took it upon herself to tell my sister that Eleanor is underweight, unhealthy and much too small for her age. At 13 months, Eleanor is about 19 pounds and approximately 30 cm tall. Yes, she is somewhat small; but she was also born nine weeks early. Give the poor kid a break. No, she isn't as big as your kids were when they were toddlers, but why bother comparing at all?
As I overheard the conversation, my mama bear instincts sprung into action. The moment I heard Eleanor's name mentioned, I was off my chair in a second with my back up. How dare she compare my perfect child to another?
I will admit that I have compared Eleanor to other kids. Why is that child walking and Eleanor is barely standing? Your child uses a sippy cup and a straw? That kid can already ride a bike? (OK, maybe Eleanor shouldn't be riding a bike yet).
Comparing your child to other youngsters is a gut reaction I think. But it can cause too much stress. Because Eleanor was a preemie, I am constantly "adjusting" her age. For example, she is 13 months now, but "technically" she is only 11 months. So when I see other 13-month-olds walking, I get nervous about Eleanor's development. Then I have to do a reality check. Would I be concerned if she was only 11 months? Probably not.
The same school of thought should be used for milestones in general to eliminate stress about development. Milestone calendars and dates should be used as a general guideline, not taken as gospel. If I focus too much on those milestone markers, I know I will drive myself (and my husband, my daughter, my mom, my friends) crazy.
On the other hand, I have no trouble at all comparing Eleanor to other kids that are at her same level. It is reassuring to see a child her age who also relies on crawling rather than walking, has fewer teeth or is not yet riding a bike.