07/21/2015 08:32 EDT | Updated 07/21/2016 05:59 EDT

9 Underrated Milestones of Early Childhood

Jamie Grill

We all know the standard milestones of childhood. As parents, we are constantly reminded of them: "Is she sleeping through the night?" "Can he roll over?" "Has she popped a tooth yet?" "Is he almost walking?" "How's potty training going?" "Is she talking much?" "Has he lost any teeth yet?"

These typical milestones are not the ones I personally celebrate with excited texts to my husband and best friends, or give my kids gleeful celebratory hugs over. In my own experience -- and I think that four kids under the age of seven counts as experience -- these are the baby and childhood milestones that are really worth celebrating.

1. Putting a pacifier in your own mouth

If you have never had a soother-baby, you don't know what it's like to spend your life shoving a soother into a baby's mouth because the baby wants the soother but lacks the ability to keep it in her own screaming face. If you have had a soother-baby, you do know: it sucks. Pun intended.

2. Holding your own bottle

There is nothing quite like those early months of cuddling and feeding and attaching and comforting (done with breast or bottle), but there's also nothing like saying, "Here's your bottle!" and walking away.

3. Learning that falling down the stairs is a bad idea

This is when he stops doing that thing where he tries to crawl headfirst down the stairs before you can sprint over and save him. That moment when, one day, all of a sudden, you watch him crawl to the stairs and pause briefly at the top, and your heart skips a joyous beat.

4. Following "fetch" directions

I like it when they can get their own diapers and wipes and bring them to me when they need a change.

5. Using very basic logic

I'm talking here about those very simple first/then statements: "First put on your pants, then we can go outside!" or, "First I brush your teeth, then you can have a turn!" or even, "Yes, you can have some juice; stop screaming while I pour it, for pete's sake!"

6. Pumping on the swing

After this point, when they yell, "Mommy, can you push me?" you can cheerfully respond with, "No, you can pump, honey! Good job!" and continue to sit on the park bench staring at your iPhone.

7. Turning on the television and finding the cartoons

Have you noticed that this very valuable milestone is being achieved later and later? Instead of simply turning the TV on, there are now wall-mounted televisions, audio receivers, DVRs, Netflix, and multiple remote controls required to find Team Umizoomi. Thankfully, as television has gotten more complicated, YouTube has gotten more portable. "Here, sweetie. Have an iPad. Mommy's going back to sleep."

8. Doing up your own seat-belt

Strapping wiggly kids into the overflowing van--and then taking them out of it--is a constant hassle in parenting life. I'm at the point where half of my children can just get into the van and put on their own seat-belts, and it's already twice as easy as it used to be.

9. Staying in bed when put there

I don't know when this happens, but I'm really looking forward to it. I imagine it will be amazing.

Jacqueline believes that laughter and honesty make parenting easier for everyone, which is the goal of her blog,, where a version of this post first appeared.


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