3 Reasons to Avoid Comparisons with Newborns

It’s not a race; try these alternatives.

Babyhood isn’t intended to be a race to toddlerhood.

Our first child slept through the night early on. When other bleary-eyed parents would ask us how she was sleeping, we soon realized being completely honest meant we would get envious (and disheartened) responses.

We began to understand their reactions more fully when our daughter was slower to walk than her peers. We watched other little ones learn while she was immobile and wondered if she’d ever take those first steps.

We’d fallen into the comparison trap.

As a new parent, friendly conversations often prompt well-wishers to ask about your child:
How long is he sleeping?
Does she eat well?
Have you gotten that first smile?
While there’s nothing wrong with talking about these areas of development sometimes its anxiety-provoking to realize your baby isn’t doing something yet.

Babyhood isn’t intended to be a race to toddlerhood, toddlerhood to childhood, or childhood to adulthood.

While the reasons we compare our children may be multifaceted, there are several reasons to avoid comparison and even end it altogether.

Why We Compare

Comparing our children is a conundrum with both positive and negative aspects.

There are valid reasons to compare your baby with others. Comparison allows you to see what your child’s peers are about to do, what they’re learning to do, and gather ideas of playthings that interest her. You may even notice your baby hasn’t learned a skill yet and are able to be proactive about encouraging learning.

Yet, a lack of sleep in the early days or frustration over a particular stage of development can cloud your view. Be careful comparing skills as a way to wish away your child’s current stage is detrimental. Before you know it days or months may have passed that you spend (impatiently) waiting for your baby to grow up.

3 Reasons to Avoid Comparison (and How to Move Away From It)

Here are three things continual comparison will steal from you (and some alternative ways to fill your time).

Reason #1 - Comparison Steals Your Time

Spending time comparing your baby to others isn’t limited to the moments you sit and observe other children. You’re likely rethinking though the comparisons hours (or even days) later as you watch your own child. All of a sudden you’ve lost precious time you could have had enjoying your child where she is.

Alternative #1 - Practice Gratitude
When you find yourself stuck in the comparing game, take a moment to stop. Redirect your thoughts to something you’re thankful for at that very moment. Perhaps something as big as a place to live or as little as a meal without children squabbling. Consider extending an attitude of thankfulness by blessings someone else with kind words or a sweet treat.

Reason #2 - Comparison Steals Your Joy

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I have yet to find a comparison that yields true joy. Even when it appears your baby comes out on top in the comparison game you only have until the next playdate to realize a different area he falls sorely behind in. Celebrating your child’s accomplishments is about her successes alone, regardless of what other children her age are doing.

Alternative #2 - Celebrate Successes
Being a baby is hard work and, even on the crabby days, there’s a lot to learn. Teach yourself to celebrate the successes your child has, no matter how small. This doesn’t necessarily mean presents, treats, or spending money. Instead a tickle, big hug, or reading a special story are perfect celebrations after any milestone is achieved.

Reason #3 - Comparison Steals Your Focus

One of the great changes when you become a parent is the shift from focusing on yourself to focusing on your baby. Spending time constantly comparing your child to his peers again shifts this focus. Instead of concentrating on the amazing (and unique) skills your baby is learning, you’re only looking ahead to what next on his developmental agenda.

Alternative #3 - Embrace Your Experience
Being content where you (and your child) are is much easier when you embrace your experience. Whether you’re learning how to care for your preemie in the NICU or walking the road through some sleepless nights, every experience has unique and exciting aspects.

Ending the comparison game is difficult to do. Your key to success is replacing the time that comparing used to fill with something else. Resolve to change your mindset, celebrate your little one’s successes and settle in. You’re about to make some amazing memories with your little one.

Jess Wartinger

Jess Wartinger

Jess Wartinger resides in rural New York with her husband and five children. Formerly an early elementary teacher, Jess currently spends her time loving her kids and holding down the fort at home.

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