Comparing Babies: Why I need to Stop

Comparing Babies 1

I want to start off this post with a disclaimer – I openly admit that I’m a perfectionist. I know I have ridiculously high expectations and sometimes I can be unrealistic in my requests. Okay there, I said it. Now let’s move on.

One of my latest struggles in this NEVER-ENDING uphill battle of motherhood has been the comparison game. For me, this is comparing my son to other babies of similar ages – mostly those in our mothers group. Our bubs are at the age where most are rolling, and some are even on the brink of crawling. We coo and ahhh over them when we catch up for our weekly coffee. We watch the active bubs wriggle and squirm around the play mays finding each other to play with.

Except my son. No, not my son. My son just lays there. Taking it all in (I hope!). He lies there rather contently I’ll admit, but with no sign of movement. There will even be times where he teases us with a half roll, before rolling back and giving me a big, cheesy grin. While all the mums tell me to “enjoy this period of non-movement while I can”, inside I’m burning with an emotion that could almost be synonymous with jealousy. Why doesn’t my son move? Why doesn’t he roll? Is he – seemingly – “last in the class?”

Karma?

Part of me thinks it is some form of ‘karma’. You see, I remember sitting in the hospital after having my son and feeling pretty chuffed. Our pediatrician had earlier commented on how strong our son’s neck muscles and reflexes were, and our visitors always mentioned how alert he was. As any new mum would feel at some point in those early days, I was pretty proud.comparing babies 2

I didn’t think anything of it as I happily lapped up each passing compliment.

“He supports his neck really well”.

“He’s such a happy baby”.

“He sleeps pretty well”.

I enjoyed hearing how amazing my son was – so much so that I didn’t recognise the arrogance slowly building inside me. I quietly thought about how my son was better than all others (how horrible is that?!) and reveled in his abilities proudly.

Disaster Strikes (or does it?)Comparing Babies 3

Then something AWFUL happened. A mother from mother’s group posted that her son had rolled over. Something inside my twinged (is that jealousy again?). Then another mother from mother’s group posted that HER daughter rolled over as well. I felt my heart drop with these messages. How come my son hasn’t rolled over yet? Isn’t he the cleverest? Everyone has said how amazing he is – so why hasn’t he rolled yet? (Keeping in mind that he is well within the milestone timeframe!).

This was my first taste of the reality that I should have recognised from day one – maybe my son is NOT the cleverest child in the world. I should just be proud of him for what he can achieve as APPROPRIATE for him. Maybe I should be thanking God for our son and that we should just enjoy him without comparing him to others.

But it’s not that simple, is it? We all hope that our children will achieve great things. I want to believe all those compliments I received and believe my son is high-achieving (like his perfectionist mum right here!). I started to feel really down about my son not rolling over, like he was now somehow at the bottom of the class instead of the top.

Why do we compare?

Why do us mums insist on comparing our bubs to others? Is it purely out of selfish pride? Or is there something more? I know some of my motives may have seemed selfish but I think there is more to it. I was chatting to a mum friend recently who also found herself comparing her bub to others, and large part of it has to do with wanting what’s best for our babies, and to make sure THEY’RE NORMAL.

Do you remember in the early days of having your first newborn, you googled everything to make sure it was normal? (Are they meant to eat this long/little/frequently? Are they sleeping enough/not enough? Is their poo supposed to look like that? Is that rash/mark/temperature normal?). We are now solely responsible for this mini human, and you want to make sure you’re doing it right. So it’s normal to worry about whether they are meeting their “milestones” right? I’m not completely a crazy person on that one!?

How to get over the comparison game

It might sound like I’ve basically said us mums are screwed when it comes to comparing our babies to others. We’re just going to do it anyway because we worry about that kind of stuff. So is that it? Is there absolutely nothing we can do to get over this crazy comparison-game we all seem to play? Yes and no. I think I’ll always compare my son to some degree – I’m a perfectionist (remember my disclaimer earlier?). I’ll always want my son to do the best TO HIS ABILITIES (so I’ll make sure he’s not lazy, if I can help it!). But there ARE some things we can do as mothers to make sure we minimise how much or how often we compare our bubs. These are the strategies I’ve used to try and help me in this crazy, messed up game.

  • Celebrate the achievements of other babiesComparing Babies 4

    This one can be tough, especially when I’ve been watching all these other babies rolling and commando crawling their way around the joint, and my son lies there like a sack of potatoes. But by celebrating other babies’ achievements and getting excited when other mums get excited, it helps me to be a supportive mum-friend and to see the bigger picture – that it’s not ALL about my son (even though it feels like sometimes it is!).

  • Celebrate your baby’s achievements

    It can be easy to get hung up on the things your baby can’t do and forget what they CAN do. Focus on these by writing them down in a journal, scrapbook, digital file – however you like! This will make you excited about all the things your little one can do (for me, it is the fact that he is soooo verbal!) and release some of the need to compare.

  • Recognise each child is different

    A whole lot easier said than done, but nevertheless true. Remembering that your child will always be an individual, for the rest of their life, means that they will always do things differently to others. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you’ll stop comparing them to others.

  • Seek support

    If you are genuinely worried about your child, seek medical help. Visit the health care nurses, the doctor, the pediatrician – whoever is available, appropriate for the concern and will most likely alleviate your concerns.

Have you ever been caught up in the comparison game? How did you cope or get over comparing your child to others?

About Fi Morrison

Fi is a mum to her beautiful, 1-year-old baby boy who she affectionately calls Starfish. She started Mumma Morrison as a way to document her life with her son, but also aims to create a supportive and encouraging community for new and prospective mums. She is returning to part-time teaching in July. Fi and her family live in Sydney.

Comments

  1. Oh gosh, the only baby to compare your baby to is himself! Does that make sense? He might not roll now but it wont be long and he’ll be rolling all over the place! Your little guys is gorgeous and he will achieve each and every milestone in his own time!

    • It certainly does, I think it’s hard when you want to make sure they are doing okay and achieving the best they can! But he’s been doing a couple of rolls today which made me feel better!

  2. I used to compare my son too but I realised that all babies develop at their own pace. I snapped myself out of it and put my nursing knowledge to good use. As long as he falls in the normal growth patterns range, I’m all good. xx

    Jacq
    jacqwritesworld.com
    #humpdayhype

    • Yep that’s so true. Slowly coming out of the comparing stage and just enjoying and appreciating him for who he is. Glad youv’ve gotten out of it xx

  3. I have this problem even within my own nuclear family- why isn’t this baby doing x yet because my other baby did it at 2 months. It’s hard to stay focused on the fact that every baby is different and will progress differently. I give myself comfort in the fact that by college they will probably be doing x and not doing y but I get the twinges (especially over potty training- we’re reaching the age with our next one and I’m over here like 😭).

    • Thanks so much lovely – I’m glad I’m not the only one! Good to know it’ll ease off a bit with the second (hopefully!!) xx

  4. It is definitely hard when there are so many books out there and so much information. I remember my mum saying to me that she now thinks there is too much information, and I now agree with her (at the time I didn’t!) You do learn after reading so much that we are still all really winging it and we don’t know what they are going to do when. I think perhaps it is better to try to go with the flow! But yes definitely easier said than done!

    • I agree – and what’s worse sometimes is CONFLICTING information, because it just confuses you and makes you worry even more! I’m feeling a bit better though, recognising my boys own unique strengths and personality is really helping me out!

      • That’s right! Every child is different and every child will achieve in their lifetime. My daughter was an extremely late walker…you can’t tell now. And my son? Well, he was a late talker…and now I can’t even hear myself think around him!

        • Wow – totally different! I think I need to remember that it won’t matter in 2,3,4,5 (or 10!) years. It’s just hard being in the thick of it at the time. But he’s already coming along, started rolling on Wednesday and is seriously the most vocal kid out. Like his mumma 🙂

  5. So spot on. I was just telling my daughter tonight how when she was born I was determined that this time (she’s the third) I would do everything just exactly perfect and how that flew out the window like two minutes later when I made my first mistake. Perfectionists for the win!
    This is my first #humpdayhype linkup, thanks for hosting!

    • Haha definitely sounds like me! This is good forewarning for me that it might not get better after first bub (as some friends and family have suggested), so I’ll keep that in mind! Luckily my bub has (Finally!) just started rolling around so I’m feeling less worried about it all (for now – I’m sure something else will come up!!)
      Thanks so much for linking up – can’t wait to see what you share tomorrow/next week!

Leave a Reply