Is something wrong with my son?


If my baby were the only baby in the world, I’d be happy with him. It wouldn’t occur to me that anything may be wrong. But despite common platitude saying, ‘Every baby is different,’ I can’t repress niggling paranoid discomforts when I see Timmy being different not just from another individual baby, but from a whole room of them.

Once a week I take Timmy to playgroup, where we meet with other mums and their babies who are around the same age, all hailing from the same antenatal class. In this class and among other people our family knows, Timmy had been admired for his speedy development, particularly cognitively. Things like holding his head up, his eyes focusing and tracking movement, and his rolling happened weeks (or even months) before conventional norms. While other babies at playgroup lay on the mat like baby lumps, Timmy propped himself on his belly and looked around alertly, observing everything that moved and everything that didn’t. Despite my knowing that every baby develops at different speeds, it elated me to see Timmy look like such a high achiever, so soon. (This feeling of course being based on irrational parental pride, not on science.)

Then the record stuck.

The other babies continued to grow, and in their own time learned to sit, crawl, and enthusiastically investigate toys with their mouths…

…while Timmy still props himself on his belly and looks around, observing.

He’ll give a toy some cursory interest if it’s placed right between his hands, but he rarely pursues any, and certainly won’t compete for it. Most of the time, rather than playing with toys he just watches the other children play with theirs.

Yesterday, I watched all the other babies interacting in voice and motion — with toys, with mums, with other babies. Then there was my baby. Propped on his belly. Observing. Quiet.

When I placed toys in front of him, he looked at them quizzically for a moment before ignoring them and resuming his watch of other people. When he became unhappy about being part of the group (in only the ‘physically present’ sense of the word), his grizzles were placated when I moved him to a quiet corner of the room and we read a book.

My mind is pulled two ways. One way, I panic and fear the worst, incredulous that my boy may have…unforeseen challenges. He’s the son of man with a First Class Honours science degree! He was supposed to be amazing!

The other way, I desperately (and futilely) try to reassure myself that I can’t realistically project so much onto a 6-month-old. He’s still a baby; what could I possibly, feasibly, forecast?

But I still worry. Because I’m only human, and that’s what I do.

And when I see my son so different from every other individual among his peers, I worry even more.


(7) Comments

  • Miriam
    17 Nov 2012

    As a mum I think as much as you want to dismiss your fears with paranoia you will only be either re-assured or assisted by pursuing your concerns with a qualified professional who will take you seriously. Being a parent is full of unwarranted worries but there is nothing lost by checking it out. Perhaps first make some recorded observations of the things that concern you to help you put words on them. Your son looks absolutely gorgeous do what you need to do for him and don’t worry about people thinking you are over the top. Having said all of this children develop at such different rates and he might just be taking a breather and consolidating or enjoying being an observer xxx

  • Andrea Latoa
    17 Nov 2012

    I think as he’s done all his developing early now he’s having a well deserved rest! Maybe you could tell him you’re totally amazed at his progress and then give yourself and him a break from stressing… stay observant but enjoy and don’t compare. You’ll be amazed at how soon temperament and personality start shaping your little man. Natalya (14) was laid back from the time she was born and still is, Elena (7) was making me tired out from the moment she was conceived and is still super active and only just started sleeping all night. Be present in each moment and cherish it for what it is. Right, coffee break for you, some time with Daddy for Capt Zog. Love to you all 🙂

  • Jennifer Peters on Facebook
    17 Nov 2012

    no baby is ever the same – my kids seem to have “delayed” speech, but they are “catching” up. Charlie is very much an observer and has only really started participating in group things, where is Thomas has mostly always given things a go. The parameters of normal development are so varied, so try to relax and enjoy each milestone as they arrive :).

  • Janine Suter on Facebook
    18 Nov 2012

    Is he having trouble sitting? You can’t play easily with toys while lying on your tummy. Does he like games with you like ‘peek a boo’ or smiling?

  • Eve Doyle on Facebook
    18 Nov 2012

    He smiles, and we have fun tickle times. That’s the only ‘game’ he responds to. He doesn’t sit. Or crawl. Or talk as much as he used to. I miss hearing him chat to his toes. I do enjoy those tickle times though. I love his laugh.

  • Janine Suter on Facebook
    18 Nov 2012

    You might want to get his hearing tested. Has he had any ear infections? Sometimes children do stop chatting for a while when attempting to reach a new motor milestone. He’s only six months so I wouldn’t be too worried about the sitting or crawling, but maybe a physio could give you some ideas for encouraging it. I really don’t think you need to panic. The tickle game sounds better than toys!

  • Eve
    20 Nov 2012

    Each month we’re visited by a lady from P.A.F.T (Parents as First Teachers) who consults about child development, and looking at Timmy on his own merits, she reassured me that he was progressing wonderfully for his age, and his behaviour merely showed which area of development is his current focus. The motor skills would come, she said, just when he’s finished what he’s doing now. She talked with me about signs of autism in infants, and it was clear Timmy didn’t have them. His hearing’s sharp (he’ll look for sources of sound, just not make a move for them), but I’ll just have to wait for the rest of it to fall into place.

    Thank you, all, for your input and reassurances! I take wisdom and comfort from you mums who know more about this domain than I do! 🙂

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