10 things mums secretly compete over

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Child Swimming
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Of course, we're all chuffed to bits when our kids reach those all-important milestones such as walking, writing, riding a bike and swimming. But there are always some mums who have to be smug and show off that their child is ahead of the game. We offer some smart replies when you're on the receiving end - and info on what should happen when!

1. On to solids

'I'm so glad we're on to solids. Milk was getting so boring!'
What to say: 'Emma loves her milk... I'll be sad to leave this stage behind.'
What's normal? Most babies go on to solids at around 6 months old, starting off with simple purees. However, they will still need milk feeds alongside the solids, so whether you're breast-feeding or giving them formula, milk is still a really important part of their diet.

2. In the swim

'Have you noticed? It's much more fun when they can actually swim - they can learn way more strokes!'
What to say: 'Charlie hates swimming. He just loves playing in the water. I enjoy that too as I can play with him and we both have fun!'

What's normal?
Kids love water so it's important that they enjoy play sessions at their local swimming pool as a baby, with armbands. That way, they
won't be scared when they learn to swim. Many children start swimming
lessons at 3, but don't really have the body strength to swim any
lengths until 5 or 6.

3. Talk the walk

'Isn't Billy walking yet? Dolly's been walking since she was 9 months old!'
What to say: 'Well, boys do tend to reach these milestones a bit behind the girls. Anyway, they all get there in the end!'
What's normal? Most children learn to walk around the time of their first birthday. But some do it a few months earlier and others a few months later. There's often a pattern in the family too. Don't push them to walk before they are ready... they will do it just as soon as they can.

4. Sleep patterns

'it's so good to get a full night's sleep - especially as she's only 2 weeks old!'
What to say: 'I found with my first one that she went through stages of sleeping through - there are so many things that keep them up at night.'
What's normal? Many babies are sleeping through the night - this actually means for 5 hours or so - when they are a few months old. But don't beat yourself up if yours doesn't - they do vary. And even if they are, sleep patterns can change due to illness, colic, teething, growth spurts, over tiredness etc.

5. Alpha kids

'So funny. Max always gets M and N muddled up when he's reciting the alphabet! Which ones does Evie get confused over?'
What to say: 'We haven't even started on the alphabet yet! I prefer to wait until she starts school as it's easier for them to remember when they're a bit older.'
What's normal? Between the age of 3 and 5 many kids can write their own name, so start to recognise letters. But be careful - if they know it all by the time they start school they may find school boring!

6. Cycles of development

'I can't believe how quickly Luca can cycle now. Quite amazing for a 3-year-old!'
What to say: 'I don't want to rush it. You hear so many stories of kids who learn very young, haven't got good enough balance so keep falling off, they lose their confidence.'
What's normal? Children vary hugely with riding a bike without stabilisers - from as young as 3-and-a-half up to 6. Don't push them too hard - some kids are just not that good at mastering it so need more time. If they seem reluctant, leave it for a few months then try again.

7. Word play

'I counted the other day, and Milly knows 213 words already. By the time she's 2 we'll be able to have proper chats!'
What to say: 'Some children pick up words so easily. For others, they just get stored in the brain, to come out later!'
What's normal? By the age of 2, most toddlers will have an average vocabulary of 150 words, but this does vary from child to child. You really only need to worry if the know 50 words or less at this age - if they continue to struggle, get them checked out when they're 3, as poor language development can be a sign of deafness, dyslexia or autism.

8. The write way

'The only problem with them being able to write is that they start writing on things they shouldn't!'
What to say: 'I don't think Jack is ready for writing yet. They can't hold a pencil until their arm muscles are strong enough, so we're concentrating on playing on monkey bars first!'
What's normal? Between the age of 3 and 5 most children learn to write their own name. Many kids, though, don't have good fine motor skills or hand-eye coordination so will find it harder.

9. Button up!

'The other day I put Sophie in a dress with lots of buttons and I couldn't believe it when she did them all up in double-quick time!'
What to say: 'Some kids are so good at those things but others find it very difficult. Best to do it for them until they're totally ready.'
What's normal? Usually around the age of 3, they can learn to do up buttons. Stand next to them and show them, or practise on large buttons first. Some kids take a bit longer than others because they're just not so good with their fingers.

10. Make a meal of it

'It's such a relief not to have to cook separate food for Josh any more. Now he just eats what we eat!'
What to say: 'Oh! Gemma's always done that, since she went on to solids. I just puréed what we ate, as long as it wasn't too spicy. Now she eats everything!'
What's normal? To get kids used to a wide range of foods and tastes, it's a good idea to get them eating 'normal' food as soon as you can, and it makes life easier for busy mums who don't want to have to cook separate meals! But to start with, just purée fruit and vegetables with a little baby rice - their digestive systems need time to get to grips with solid food.

Where to next?

-Child development stages

-All about weaning

-Baby sleep advice for mums


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