13 underrated milestones of early childhood

Sound the trumpet because these often overlooked baby and toddler milestones are really worth celebrating!

Hooray! Your little bundle of joy has arrived. Expect the next few years to be memorable ones when your munchkin advances from a helpless, gurgling babe to a cheeky tot who will negotiate expertly with you for another scoop of ice cream.

This journey from baby to toddler will be filled with many “aww” moments including his firsts ― smile, roll over, tooth, solid food, step, even his first day at kindergarten.

Make sure you always have your mobile phone or camera nearby as you’ll want to capture every sublime moment.

While you’re doing that, don’t forget to celebrate those other “oh my god” moments. You know, the ones that don’t make it into the baby book, but will still have you doing a victory dance and body slamming the hubs.

We never know when and where junior might hit these milestones, but when he does, it’s a clear indication that your munchkin is growing up.

Have tissues handy…we present the top 12 most overlooked baby and toddler milestones that deserve a shout-out!

1. Sleeping through the night

You only realise how precious sleep is ― for baby and you ― when you become a parent. At birth, your newborn’s circadian rhythm is all over the place, as are his naps and night-time sleep. Days will turn into weeks and then months of erratic sleep, leaving you to wonder if junior will ever allow you to have a proper night’s sleep. And then, he does! “It’s been almost three years, but I still remember the night Lucas didn’t wake up for a feed or cuddle,” Jacintha Chong recalls. “I woke up in a panic at 6.30am and went to check on him to make sure he was still alive. Filled with excitement, I woke my hubby up and we giggled with so much glee!”  

2. The first long nap

Speaking of baby and sleep, bet you can remember the first time junior went down for an afternoon snooze that turned out to be a lot longer than his usual 15-minute power nap. Instead, he slept for two hours straight and left you wondering if the clock had stopped. When Tiffany De Souza’s 12 month-old-daughter took her first long nap, the excited mum made every minute count. “I browsed Pinterest and drank a whole cup of coffee without reheating it once, hurrah!”

3. Holding their bottle/sippy cup

Oh, how the arms ache when you have got to hold your kewpie’s bottle or sippy cup for them as they guzzle down their milk. You keep placing their pudgy hands on the bottle, in the hope that they will grasp it, but the only progress you see is in your sinewy biceps and triceps. Then, bam, junior grabs the bottle one day mid-sip and your arms are finally free!

 “I clearly remember the elation I felt when my super-fussy toddler accepted noodles…I almost cried tears of joy.”  

4. Accepting a new food

In a few years, once the kiddos are all grow up your biggest challenge will be to cook enough to feed everyone. Until then, you’ll be tearing your hair out trying to get your picky eater to try a bite of broccoli or baked chicken. Babies and toddlers are super-fussy about food and experts say you have to offer a dish 15 to 20 times before they accept it. Sounds exhausting but that’s exactly why it’s so rewarding when they finally do eat it. “I clearly remember the elation I felt when my super-fussy toddler accepted noodles,” says Yoges Raj. “It took him six months to warm up to it and when he finally ate it, I almost cried tears of joy.”  

5. Being able to fetch things

“Alexander, fetch the wipes,” or “Sophie, bring a diaper it’s time to change you”. Wouldn’t it be lovely to give instructions and actually see junior finally able to understand your orders and carry out your directives. Maybe you won’t have to be their slave for much longer? 

6. Putting the pacifier back into their mouths

Is there anything more annoying and exhausting than walking back and forth to put your peewee’s pacifier back into his mouth when it falls out? Mum-of-one Janice Tay can commiserate. “It was so painful when I had to get up throughout the night to give Eli his pacifier,” she says. “Then, I started leaving a few pacifiers in his crib hoping that he would feel around and find it himself. After a few weeks, it actually worked and I never had to help him again!” 

7. Putting things away

Singaporean families are lucky to be able to afford domestic helpers for household and childminding chores. However, constantly having someone at your beck and call can sometimes spoil kids into never having to lift a finger to clean up their own mess. This is why it’s even more precious to see little ones pick up their toys and put it back where they belong, or carry their plates into the kitchen after they’re done eating. June and Steven Chan had started teaching their 2-year-old son Tristan to deposit his dirty clothes into the hamper. One day, when June left Tristan’s clothes on the floor after removing them for her son, he scolded her. “He told me to put it in the hamper at once,” Chan laughs. “I was so proud of him and he was so cute, I couldn’t help but laugh as well.” 

Click through for six more underrated milestones worth a shout out!