PSA: Don't compare your baby's progress to the progress of others. It's more than OK—and normal!—for them to go at their own pace.

By Melissa Mills
January 29, 2021
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Credit: Getty Images.

Another day, another set of unrealistic expectations set on parents. This time, though, it's a mom on Reddit sharing some wisdom that, hopefully, can help put an end to some of the mom-shaming and constant comparisons that make up parenthood today.

"FYI - a lot of baby things parents brag about have nothing or little to do with parenting," u/MEd_Mama_ wrote on Reddit's Parenting subreddit. "I heard this from my therapist recently and think it needs to be shouted from the mountain tops."

The first-time mom noted that she "was inundated with questions and comments from well-meaning friends, coworkers" when she had her baby that, ultimately, "made me feel like a sh***y mom and like something was wrong with my beautiful baby." The reality of what she was hearing? They were all "things that parents LOVE to brag about [that] are honestly beyond your control and they have more to do with the personality of your baby."

Here are a few things parents always brag about that—spoiler alert—don't have much to do with your parenting style or abilities, according to Reddit:

  1. Sleeping through the night. "Mine slept through the night at 3 weeks!"
  2. Being a great eater. “My baby ate so much he went up 20 percentiles in weight!”
  3. Reaching milestones—like turning over, holding their head up, sitting, and babbling—on a rigid timeline. “Mine did at ___ month.”
  4. Potty training early. "My kid's been using the potty for ages now!"
  5. Having an "easy" baby. "I have the easiest baby ever—they hardly even cry!"

The things you can be proud of? A kind and respectful child. A toddler that shares their toys. A kid with good manners. These are things that your parenting directly contributed to. Meeting certain benchmarks or developing on a timeline, however, are less in your control. One Redditor even shared their own parenting wisdom: "Comparison is the thief of joy."

"Yes, you can establish good sleep habits and work on sleep training when it is age appropriate, but some babies are just better sleepers than others," the original poster added. "There isn't really anything you can do about it. Yes, you can see a lactation specialist and work to help your baby be a better nurser, but at the end of the day their breastfeeding ability is their own. There's nothing you can do about it. You can do tummy time and exercises and everything you're supposed to do and still have a baby who lags behind developmentally."

Moral of the story? Don't compare your baby's progress to the progress of others—and take unwarranted advice and comments with a grain of salt. The other parent probably means well and is just curious about your child, and it's important to remember that you're the best parent your kid could have. Any real concerns you have about developmental delays or milestones your baby may or may not be hitting can be brought up with their pediatrician who can be the ones to help come up with an action plan—not that friend of a friend whose toddler is a certified genius.

"You can't parent your child to sleep through the night," the first-time mom wrote. "You can't parent them to be a better nurser. You can't parent them to be advanced developmentally. All you can do is the best you can in conjunction with research and your doctor. Don't feel sh***y about things you can't control! I'm not saying to give up or to not try to reach those goals, but give yourself and your baby some grace. I needed this today. I hope someone else does too."

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