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Parenting Milestones: The First 6 Months

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As parents of a newborn, you look for guidebooks to help you through the first year. You want to track those developmental milestones. You buy What To Expect the First Year and download several Week by Week apps. There are so many handbooks all about your baby’s milestones. But what about a companion guide for parenting milestones?

Here are six months of baby milestones along with my version of accompanying parenting milestones you really need to know about. Really.

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Week One:

Baby: Congratulations! You are bringing your baby home this week. She will be sleeping most of the time, as newborns are only awake about 10 percent of the day. Hush, little baby!

You: Your feelings are somewhere in between shock and a severe hangover. You love your baby but you swear you have shrapnel in your cooch and you’re constipated. You are both excited and happy to bring your baby home and to her nursery, which you lovingly decorated, but then you realize she can’t really see yet, that your bed does not sit up and recline, and that nurses can’t take the baby to the nursery while you sleep. Also, your home doesn’t have those late-night cafeteria chicken strips, which you are craving now. WTF.

Week Two:

Baby: Your Little One may start to focus a little more. She is still sleeping most of the day. Her umbilical cord may fall off this week. Don’t forget to put it in her Memory Book or, better yet, a time capsule!

You: You have managed to watch all four seasons of Breaking Bad. The delivery guy from Taste of India has a key to your house. If one of you accidentally threw away the umbilical cord, the other one will act devastated, but really not be that torn up about it.

Week Four:

Baby: Your baby will start to exercise her little vocal chords with sweet little gurgles, sighs and coos. It is an early and adorable step in her effort to communicate with you.

You: By now you have come to understand that a group of kittens is not, in fact, sitting in the corner of your room knitting a bolero-style jacket for you, but that you are experiencing hallucinations, which are a very normal result of sleep-deprivation. Your nipples look like ground beef.

You have let your baby fall off the bed, champ.

Month Two:

Baby: If you tickle your baby, she may squeal or laugh out loud. She is getting good at expressing herself. Don’t forget to talk to your baby! She may also be able to push herself up during tummy time.

You: Aside from the time you (both of you!?) somehow forgot you had a baby and almost left her in the car, you’ve managed to successfully take her into public and get her back home again. You may also need to allow for more travel time as you stop the car every 15 minutes so you can check to see if she is breathing. That’s TOTALLY normal.

Month Three:

Baby: Your baby moves from newborn into infant status! She will now start to develop a daily pattern of waking, eating and sleeping. If you follow or help her stick to a pattern, she will sleep better and cry less.

You: That is some bullshit (the sleeping more and crying less). By now, you have discovered that your baby has acid reflux because of the way she projectile vomits a dozen times a day. You have regurgitated milk on your clothes, in your hair and on the chaise lounge. And the reflux makes her colicky so she cries a lot. That’s OK, though, because you find that you are good at sympathy crying. But, look at her cherubic face! Now look away and dramatically bite your lip.

Month Four:

Baby: Your baby is becoming an expert at cooing and giggling. Physically, she is able to put some weight on her legs. She may also be ready to eat solid foods. She has likely learned to roll from tummy to back. This little rascal is starting to figure things out!

You: Your baby was not ready to eat solids. You could not wait to see the look of delight on baby’s face when you put the spoonful of bland, rice cereal in her mouth. Instead, she just gagged and pushed it out with her tongue. Why are you in such a hurry to feed her solids?

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Month Five:

Baby: Your 5-month-old will love to play peek-a-boo as she starts to understand the concept of object permanence. She may recognize her name and turn toward you when you say it to her. She may be rolling like a steamroller now, so keep an eye on that baby!

You: You may not have kept an eye on her as carefully as you should have. You have let your baby fall off the bed, champ. What kind of parent are you? You will reenact the fall, yourself. You know you just did. You probably feel shame. And you will Google the hell out of all combinations of “my baby fell off the bed.” Also, you love to tell people the part about “object permanence,” and other parents will slow-nod for a yes, I have read about that. Everyone is educated. Good.

Month Six:

Baby: Can you believe it is halfway through baby’s first year? She is becoming very active, possibly sitting up on her own and eating solid foods. She is stringing together sounds and getting ready to crawl.

You: By now you regularly dry heave from the smell of her “solid food” poop. Yup, that’s a real treat. But, seeing her open her little bird mouth and devour the sweet potatoes softens the burn that diaper gives to the nostrils. You’ve convinced yourselves that she has deliberately said her first words, “Dada,” “Mama” and “Ghana.” You know deep down she doesn’t know what she is saying, but you let it melt your heart anyway. You hope she doesn’t crawl anytime soon.

Did you reach these parenting milestones? What would your handbook say?

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