Developmental milestones can happen in different orders and at different times for each child because all children have different personalities, different priorities, and different challenges to overcome. The medical community gives labels for when a child should do certain things like rolling over or sitting up so that we can just catch any potential warning signs for bigger problems early on. But even doctors don’t pretend to know what the magic age is that all babies should do a certain thing like walking or talking. There a variations of normal; a child can potty-train at 18 months or 3 years old and both are normal. Yet so many parents seem to enjoy pushing their children to reach milestones as if it’s a race and constantly questioning other parents about what milestones their children are hitting. Since my son turned about 10 months old I have had family members and strangers alike constantly asking me if he is walking. I don’t know why an elderly woman at church or a mother of two at the grocery store thinks asking me if my son is walking yet is polite small talk. It puts so much pressure on parents and children and causes moms, especially first time moms to worry even when there’s truly no reason to worry. It’s not considered late walking until after 18 months with no walking, and even then it doesn’t always mean there’s a problem it just means they’re out of the average range. Talking is another example of an area where parents feel OK to pressure others. Someone close to me who will remain unnamed has a toddler who was “late” to talk. Yet he used sign language quite well. I honestly think he’s just shy and people getting in his face trying to get him to talk didn’t help the situation. The thing is, if a child is late doing something and there is a developmental issue at hand, your questions will be even more hurtful to those parents. If you want to make small talk with parents of a young child there are many things you can ask about that aren’t so pushy and belittling. Try asking them what some of their child’s favorite things are or even just a simple, whats new? Or maybe you are a true revolutionary so you can compliment them on something you see their child doing well, no matter how small; i.e. “She’s got such a nice smile and she smiles so often! What a happy baby.” Because there are enough critics in the world and you don’t need to be one of them.