Slate.com offers a couple of stinging rebukes to an op-ed piece in the New York Times on the latest “hand wringing” study citing forward-facing strollers as a cause of declining linguistic development in babies.
While I can certainly agree that the “unsubstantiated conjecture,” “endless ‘mays’ and ‘mights’,” and “anecdotal evidence” that the author, a developmental psychologist, uses in her argument probably qualifies this as just another example of “bogus trend spotting” in the media; you’ve got to hand it to these experts for coming up with increasingly creative ways to exploit parental angst.
First time parents are especially susceptible to this – my wife and I have done our share of worrying and over-analyzing media reports and “developmental milestones” in our daughter’s first year. Most of these fears have thankfully fizzled out as Marianne has grown, but every month brings a new wave of apprehension. Call me paranoid, but it’s hard to control the urge to angst – every parent who’s counted the toes and fingers on their newborn should know what I’m talking about.
Our latest worry concerns standing and walking. Marianne is coming up on 14 months and is still only able to stand as she alternates on tippy toes if she’s leaning on something. She’s not quite at the “cruising” stage yet, and her legs wobble uncontrollably when we encourage her to walk.
My rational side dictates that there is absolutely nothing to fear. I remind myself that our daughter is merely a late bloomer (she didn’t start crawling until 11 months), and measuring her motor skills against a developmental chart is utterly futile. But I still can’t shake that little gnawing feeling of doubt – especially given her acute torticollis and some rather vague consultations from doctors (the latest one couldn’t tell us much, other than that she seems to be developing her motor functions late – if we really wanted to know for sure, we should get a CT scan, which incidentally goes for a few thousand RMB at their hospital). I can’t help but worry just a little bit.
So for now, we wait – and in the meantime have started a much more aggressive regimen of physical games to encourage her to use those little leg muscles and fifteen extra minutes of massaging her legs and waist at the massage hospital where she gets treated for torticollis. (But as these things go, I know it’s useless to worry. The standing, walking and talking will come when they come.
*The University of Manitoba has a developmental milestone survey replete with examples of motor skill developing games and equipment.