You can say that in any groups of parents that you are comparing your kids to one another. That kind of has a negative feeling, right?
Well sure, it could have that feeling, but it doesn’t have to.
I read a lot of the feedback from parents in PEPS Groups and I’ve led a few of my own and participated in one as a parent myself. It just goes without saying that parents will compare. In fact, a few parents call it out as their favorite part of being at PEPS.
It’s in the design of a group to have babies all within a few weeks of each other. Sometimes only days apart. Line them all up on a blanket and everyone sees the babies, and yes, especially their own.
We know that babies all develop at their own rate and also that there are some good developmental milestones to keep in mind. So when one baby pushes up so strong on their forearms, all the parents applaud and are amazed. What I’ve seen happen in a PEPS Group is that baby who pushes up first, gets a lot of praise from a community of loving parents and then some good questions for the parents. “Wow, how long has he been doing that?” “He is so strong, do you do a lot of tummy time?” “What has made that work for you? Because my kid really hates tummy time.” So comparing, yes and also learning, and maybe most importantly the understanding that my child isn’t there yet and that’s okay.
When a good friend of mine’s first baby was pulling up, standing and taking steps at a very young 9 months, she was not exactly glad to be the “first” among her friends with kids. This was no false modesty. This is like that moment when you see your stationary and happy baby playing with toys and know that within a few weeks, he will be crawling. Everywhere. Like other parents of early climbers, early walkers, early explorers she knew that her child was developing at her own rate – fast – and maybe she wasn’t quite ready for it.
One of my absolute favorite moments in a PEPS Group is when the babies are put in a circle on a blanket together for the first time. They are so sweet and their little arms still wave around without a lot of intentional control. It’s almost inevitable that their little hands will touch and, very likely, grasp. The parents all ooh and aaah: Baby might be meeting their first friend – a peer, a playmate.
But what happens maybe at the next meeting, is even more amazing to me. The babies reach out and find each other – we have seen some ear pulls or batting hands too – and then they turn and look at each other. A week later, someone rolls from front to back. “How long has that been happening!?” Then a baby rolls towards their friend. And really by the end of 12 weeks, you see some reaching to get closer (which sometimes just slides them backward, but they are still working on this!)
Seeing babies so close in age means that you can sometimes see what’s just ahead for your child, or possibly offer an idea for what’s worked for you. We can celebrate all the babies’ efforts and achievements and feel better prepared if we have an early walker… or climber.
So maybe comparing isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all because it can help us to see a range of development and milestones.