When you have two (or more) babies who are the same age, it can be hard not to compare them. For the first 9 months of their lives our girls were very similar in temperament. There were a few differences, but generally the behaved very much alike. And, just when we thought we had a way to tell them apart like one was more active than the other or one slept more than the other, they would switch.
Around 9 months, one of our girls figured out how to move. Slowly at first, then faster and more deliberately. It took almost two months before her sister started moving; she was content to stay in one place. I didn’t really consider this difference in their desire to move – I don’t think it had to do with ability as much as motivation – as a problem.
At their one year check up, the pediatrician mentioned that both girls seemed to be on the slower end of the developmental spectrum for gross motor skills (standing, walking, etc). He said he wasn’t concerned because all children develop at their own speed, but he wanted to see them again in 3 months to follow up. Again, I wasn’t too concerned. Their big brother didn’t start walking until 16 months.
Since that appointment about 6 weeks ago, one of the girls (the first to move) has become much more active. She can roll over, get from lying down to sitting, pulls herself up to standing, sits down from standing and walks holding on to furniture or a hand. She’s clearly getting more active, and I’m sure she’ll be where the pediatrician expects her to be by the next appointment.
Her sister is learning things more slowly. Just this week, she figured out how to go from lying down to sitting. She’ll stand leaning on the furniture, if you can get her in position. When she’s had enough, she’ll fuss until you sit her back down. I’m not as confident she’ll have achieved the milestones as soon.
It is hard to look at both girls and not compare them. It takes patience to help them both at their own pace, to celebrate their achievements as they come. But I try to remember that a year from now being a few weeks apart in learning to stand up won’t really matter. One isn’t ahead and one isn’t behind; they are both learning as they are ready. This is a lesson we’ll all have to keep learning. And the sooner I learn it, the more I can help them and support them as they grow. I’m sure they will face people who expect them to have the same abilities and interests, and that’s when they’ll need to count on their family to affirm they are each unique and valuable as individuals so they can help other realize it too.
How do you encourage your multiples when they are learning at different speeds? Do you have any ways to remind yourself not to compare them?