Most moms would do anything for their baby. They sacrifice their body for their little one and forego their wants and needs for nine months so that their baby can be healthy. They pay hundreds of dollars for the best baby products, and they spend hours reading baby books and articles so that they can be as knowledgable as possible.
But even with the best of intentions, sometimes babies get behind. All too often, it's the mother's fault, even when she is hoping to do all that she can to ensure her baby has the best possible circumstances to succeed. From the decisions she makes in pregnancy to the way she babies her little one, she could end up making it worse for her child. Holding the baby too little could hurt his ability to feel safe, but holding him too much could make it hard for him to learn to walk. The baby could be behind in speech or in other milestones, and the mom could be missing out on the opportunity to make things better.
Early intervention can be key in making sure that a baby who gets behind other kids catches back up. So we have this guide to help moms know the consequences of some of their actions and how they can fix them.
Here are 15 ways the baby is behind and it's mom's fault.
15 Tummy Time
We hear over and over again how much babies hate tummy time, and sometimes their parents think they are doing the baby a favor by saving him from the tortuous task. But the truth is that tummy time is one of the best ways to get a baby started on the developmental track.
Tummy time not only strengthens back and core muscles, but it stimulates the baby. The babies who do tummy time are more likely to meet their milestones of rolling over and sitting up, and they usually crawl pretty well too.
The exercise can start as soon as the baby comes home from the hospital, or at the very least when the umbilical cord comes off. Moms who put it off may be to blame if the baby gets behind early on.
14 Peek-a-boo Playing
One of the first forms of communication that a baby has, after crying, is making faces. And while newborns have reflexes that make it look like they know how to do that from the start, the truth is that babies have to be taught how to communicate. They learn to smile, usually around six weeks old, after having watched and mimicked their mother's mouth for weeks.
It can take a lot of encouragement to get those first grins, but in the first few months, it's not just about smiles. The sour look, poking out a tongue and even knowing to look to the side to see something are part of the baby's growth and development. So if a parent doesn't spend time making faces with their little one, they will be behind.
Peek-a-boo may not seem like much, but it's actually a really important game for baby's development. Moms who don't bother may be to blame for some developmental delays.
13 Jumping Joke
Babies need lots of help in learning how to walk, but sometimes moms don’t fully understand what can help. Thanks to the baby product market, many moms are tricked into using things that they think will be good for the baby, but it turns out that they can actually hinder the baby from walking.
One of those is the jumpers that many moms attach to their kitchen doorways to let the baby happily bounce along while they cook dinner. Those products aren’t bad in their own right — they can provide some fun for the baby — but they can be detrimental to the baby’s development if the mom keeps the baby in the jumper for hours on end. They don’t provide enough support for the baby to engage their core, and while it may seem like the baby is getting the benefit of being on his feet, they aren’t able to learn the basics of how to support themselves and balance their bodies. Some babies who spend too much time in jumpers end up walking behind schedule, so moms need to know that they need to balance their time so that they have a real chance at keeping up.
12 Television Babysitter
"Screen time" has become a big buzz word for parents these days. Many parents are reluctant to turn on the TV at all because kids of the last generation were more likely to be obese because of the time they spent vegging out watching their favorite shows.
We don’t necessarily agree to the extreme that kids can’t enjoy some Sesame Street — in fact, some studies have showed that Elmo and other shows like Dora the Explorer can help kids learn their letters and numbers and other preschool skills. But there can definitely be a downside to letting television be a babysitter to children.
We’ve already mentioned the unhealthy body size that can come from too much time sitting instead of playing, but there are other indications that the brain could be hindered by electronics. For example, kids who play video games more than they interact with other kids are definitely going to be behind socially. Moms should consider turning off the screens — or at least limiting their interaction — so that their kids aren’t behind in their development.
11 Failure To Thrive
Let us start out this section by saying that we do not want women to feel shame about any decision on how to feed their baby, as long as it is healthy for both mama and child. But there are times when the baby gets behind on the growth curve because of those choices. The most dangerous is when a mom is struggling to breastfeed in the baby's first weeks of life. Some get angry that the doctor is pressuring them to give the baby some formula, but the truth is that some babies have died because they aren't receiving the nutrients that they need. A bottle can take off the pressure and help the baby feel full, and the mom can go back to breastfeeding again as much as possible.
There have also been tragic cases of babies who have died because of vegan diets and other alternatives that leave newborns without the nutrition that they need to grow. And that can not only effect the baby's body but also his brain. If the doctor is worried about the baby's failure to thrive, moms should pay close attention so that the baby doesn't get behind and it's all their fault.
10 Cry Baby
Most mamas just hate to hear their little one cry. It breaks their heart, but sometimes it's nearly impossible to figure out how to soothe the baby and turn off the tears. There are people that advocate putting the baby down in a safe place and walking away for a few minutes to relax. That is sage advice, especially if a mom is nearing the point where she may harm the baby, either accidentally or on purpose.
But even most sleep training methods do not encourage parents to totally abandon a crying baby. A break is one thing, but at least one study suggests that babies whose cries go unanswered have high levels of cortisol, which can damage their brains. Most research studies say that the cry-it-out method of sleep training doesn't permanently damage the baby, but if a mom never comes when her baby cries, it could put the baby behind in more ways than one.
9 Touchy Subject
There is a lot of debate these days about attachment parenting, with some moms wearing their babies so that they are constantly in their arms. They decry women who choose to use strollers instead. Their version of parenting may seem extreme, but they do have a point. Babies do need to be held.
There are many anecdotal stories about children who are orphaned or in other dire situations who have issues with socialization because they were never held as babies. And science has proven that kangaroo care from the very first few hours of a baby's life can be beneficial to their bodies. We couldn't find any studies on whether wearing a baby has an extra benefit, but babies who aren't touched at all may have big problems, and they may get behind. So moms should definitely not feel bad about holding their babies — they may be keeping them from falling behind.
8 Walking Crutch
OK, as soon as we say that babies who aren't held can get behind, we're going to point out one truth that sways the opposite way. That's the problem with a lot of parenting debates, which proves that it's a difficult job for any mom to help her baby along the way. Anyway, sometimes moms can be the culprit if the baby is behind in walking because they hold their baby too much.
The walking milestone is a big one that many parents can't wait for. It can happen between nine and 18 months, although the average is just around the first birthday. But if the baby's feet never hit the ground, they aren't likely to start walking any time soon. When doctors evaluate late walkers, they often talk to the mom about how much they hold their baby, and there does seem to be a correlation. It usually happens too for younger siblings, since sometimes their big brother and sister also hold the baby and take things to them. It can be the family's fault that the baby is behind, but most of the time, they will still catch up.
7 Baby Talk
We've talked about babies mimicking their mom and how that can help a baby learn to express herself, but the milestone that all mothers talk about is when baby starts talking. Most moms can't wait to hear their little one say "mama," although usually dads are the first for the baby to call out by name. It usually happens by nine months or so, although some wait until closer to their first birthday. Doctors track milestones on talking for a while, including making sure that the baby starts using phrases or short sentences around their second birthday.
There can be many reasons for a delay in talking, including physical issues and developmental delays. But the saddest examples are when it is mom's fault. A baby has to be talked to in order to learn how to talk, yet some little ones are deprived of that interaction. Moms don't have to use baby talk if they aren't comfortable with it. If the baby is delayed, the doctor is probably going to encourage the mom to narrate her day. "Look, there's a ball." "See the dog." "Now we are going to play outside." Just a little bit of language can go a long way in keeping the baby from getting behind.
6 Stressful Time
Dealing with a new baby can be very stressful for a new mom. The sleepless nights are enough to cause concern for most women, and then you add on issues with breastfeeding and the worry about every sniffle. On top of that, there are major bills that come with having a baby, from the doctor to the diapers, and maternity leave can compound the financial woes.
But moms need to be extra careful to keep their stress levels down. Both during the pregnancy and in the first few weeks of a baby's life, stress can have a detrimental impact on the baby. It can cause him to get behind, and only the mom and her ability to deal with all the anxiety that is going on her life can determine whether he stays on track. We understand that knowing the drawbacks of stress don't do much to alleviate the problem — in fact, they can make it worse — but moms need to try some relaxation techniques to make sure their stress doesn't pass along to the baby.
5 Secrets And Lies
Lots of moms tell white lies to their kids. The truth is that Santa Claus and the Elf on the Shelf are a bit of a white lie in and of themselves, and there is no harm in that. But some moms can go to an extreme, and that can end up making the baby behind.
For the most part, the white lies that moms tell end up making a cute story — like the time a kid gets a rude awakening in health class when it turns out that his baby sister didn't arrive by stork. But some kids are traumatized by things that they hear from their parents, such as a monster getting them if they get out of bed. Some parents have had to get rid of their elves because their toddlers broke down in tears every time they had a potty accident or made a little mistake for fear that they would never get any presents at Christmas.
We know that there are much more extreme cases out there, where a mom's lie has caused heartbreak, but for now, let's just say moms need to be careful with the things that they tell their children so that they don't end up behind everyone else.
4 Playdate Time
Social development is just as important as other parts of a baby's life, and the mom is in charge of whether the baby is good at socializing or developmentally behind. There are different issues with each age, as parents who go through separation anxiety can attest to. But in general, there is a small window that can make a great difference in a baby's life.
In the first few weeks or months, a baby may have a preference for mom and dad, but they won't have a problem in the care of others. Then there will be a time when mom can't leave the room without the baby balking. At about a year old, most babies enjoy playing near, but not necessarily with, a friend. They engage in parallel play and will start to learn how to play together. Later on, they start to cooperate more — that is, if they have the social interaction that helps them hone their skills. Play dates are important, and without them, a baby might get behind socially.
3 Mommy's Baby
There are lots of occasions when a child — even a baby — needs to try new things, to be allowed to explore the world around them and do things on their own. That can be hard for some moms to accept, and that can be even more difficult if the baby is a younger sibling.
Moms may be reluctant to let their baby crawl around or even just play on the floor, opting instead to hold their little one all the time. They may not give them crayons or scissors, even when all the other preschoolers are using them because they are afraid of their baby growing up. But that is just going to keep the baby at a baby level. Children are meant to grow up, and a mother's job is to be there to help them as they grow. To avoid the baby getting behind, the mom has to get out of the way and let the baby try new things. It may be a small step for the mom, but it's a giant step for the child.
2 Late Bloomer
We've talked about a lot of mistakes that a mom can make that can be to blame for a baby's developmental delays. There are many more factors that can cause issues in everything from walking to talking to socializing or smiling. The worst thing that can happen, though, is that a parent brushes off a real issue, saying the baby is a late bloomer and putting him even further behind.
Sure, there are babies that don't walk until they are a year-and-a-half, and some don't talk until they are 3, and then they spit out full-on philosophical diatribes. But when a baby is missing a milestone, it's very important that the mother recognizes it and talks to a doctor. For many of these issues, recognizing the problem and getting help can make all the difference in helping the kid catch up. For example, doctors have found that children on the autism spectrum who are identified early and given interventions when they are still small are much more likely to adapt well to their diagnosis and are better able to function at school and have a successful life. Those who have speech problems as a toddler may not have a trace of it in adulthood.
Many states have special programs, such as Babies Can't Wait, that provide free screenings and interventions. So there is help out there. Moms who choose to ignore the issues could be to blame for a child getting behind, so it's time to speak up and take action.
1 Best Start
Sometimes babies can be behind from the moment they are born. For some, it's a matter of biology or another anomaly that happens in the womb. But for others, it can be all the mother's fault.
That's because the way that a mother treats her body while pregnant can have a big impact on the baby's birth. We want to mention two things that can make a big difference and that moms have the ability to stop during the nine months that the baby is in their belly. The first is smoking, which can be incredibly toxic to a baby. Cigarettes can cause babies to be born prematurely or too small, and they can do so much damage to a fetus in the womb.
The second is drinking alcohol or taking drugs in excess. Doctors are debating the impact of having an occasional glass of wine, but all agree on the fact that a baby who is born after a lot of alcohol is imbibed is going to be behind in so many ways. No mom wants to be to blame for their baby's health issues, so stop drinking and smoking right away.
Sources: Parents, Understood.org