What to Expect When Your Expectations Get All Out of Whack

Filed under: Babies, Development/Milestones: Babies, Books for Kids

When my first child was born I spent a LOT of time reading everyone's favorite make-you-crazy parenting book, What To Expect The First Year. I mean, I'd had so much fun with . . . When You're Expecting, what with the many, many potential pregnancy complications I hadn't even considered before I read about them (like when the fetus implants in your ear canal and you have to give birth out your nose, oh you hadn't heard of that one EITHER?), clearly I needed to make my way through the whole series, eventually getting to What to Expect When Your Children Have Left Home and You're Wrinkly and Decrepit But Unable to Retire Because Gas Costs Eleventy Hojillion Dollars per Gallon.

I've found that with caring for a baby the second time around I haven't had much desire to re-acquaint myself with my battered copy of What to Expect, but I did find myself idly flipping through the chapter on 4-month-olds the other day. If you've read these books, you know that each month's chapter starts with some milestones -- broken down into categories of things your baby "should" be doing, "will probably" be doing, "may possibly" be doing, and "may even be able" to be doing.

This is the crazymaking part, as far as I'm concerned, because it seems like my kids are always all over the map. Dylan isn't quite doing the baby pushup he "probably" should be doing, but he's been saying ah-goo for weeks, and that's what they describe as a vowel-consonant combination and list in the "may even be able" category. He's a genius! Wait, no, he's behind schedule! He needs physical therapy! No, he needs to join MENSA!

There's an ever-festive note at the beginning of each chapter that solemnly intones: "If your baby seems not to have reached one or more of these milestones, check with a doctor. In rare instances the delay could indicate a PROBLEM."

Oh, thanks very much, like my parental anxiety level wasn't already humming like an electrical fence over "When Baby Is Sick" (Chapter 17) and "The Baby With Problems" (Chapter 20).

Also, in nearly every month's selection of milestones, the book references a raisin. Can your baby pay attention to a raisin or very small object? Can your baby rake a raisin and pick it up in his fist? Can your baby pick up a raisin with any part of his thumb and finger? But then it goes on to remind you that for the LOVE OF GOD, whatever you do, DO NOT FEED YOUR CHILD A RAISIN. RAISINS ARE A CHOKING HAZARD.

Why compare everything to a raisin if a raisin essentially represents death? WHY?

It's not like these books don't contain useful information, but I think they should be read only in small doses to reduce the potential for Fret Overload. Although I will say that I read in this same book that it's officially "okay" if your kid eats off the floor -- because there aren't as many germs as you think and they're germs babies have been exposed to before -- so, thanks, What to Expect When Your Child Is an Uncivilized Floor-Eating Primate! I needed a free pass on that one.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.