My baby is small, he doesn’t eat solid food yet, he doesn’t talk as much as the other kids his age, and he has no teeth. Sounds familiar? These are some of the questions mothers ask. Should they worry?

From the moment a woman becomes a mother she starts to worry more than usual. It’s only normal; they want their baby to develop well and to be healthy. They carefully read their baby guides such as From Tiny Tot to Toddler, especially when they are raising their first child.

While this concern is commendable, it is also important to be objective and not worry excessively when there’s no actual need for it.

Some new moms pay careful attention to their baby’s stages as stated in books: the first teeth, the first steps, the first words, etc., but reality is that most children develop at their own pace, and while being mindful of these stages is important, they shouldn’t override other aspects of development.

Food for thought
Stages of development are also affected by many factors such as personality, genes and the environment of the child. While some active and inquisitive children learn faster than their timid counterparts, for instance, these may not be indicators that they won’t master a certain skill.

Additionally, some aspects of growth are completely random and should not be cause for concern. For instance, children begin teething around the age of 6 months, but it is not uncommon to see a newborn with teeth or toothless children at the age of 7 months.

Some children also face circumstantial challenges that slow their development yet are not an obstacle. For instance, a child whose mother speaks French and whose father speaks Italian but only speaks English at home will delay his speech at first but will eventually catch up.

Stages of development
Despite all these variations, some elements of development should appear within a reasonable time for your child to develop normally. Here are some examples of behaviours that you should observe in your child from birth to kindergarten.

Talk to a doctor
These stages are defined by Canadian paediatricians and represent what most children can do at a specific age. If your child seems to have a significant delay in one or more of the skills listed in the table above, do not hesitate to contact your paediatrician who will assess his development and make him run a few tests, if necessary. This visit could reassure you that everything is normal and could mean less stress for you. On the other hand, if your doctor notices a delay, you may need to make some changes. In both cases, your doctor will give you all the information needed to support your child’s development.

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