Nothing is more exciting than watching your child develop and reach important milestones: sitting, crawling, walking, grasping, etc. And naturally, proud parents want to share those moments with friends, family, and Mommy & Me groups. In the old days — okay, even as little as ten years ago — that meant gushing over coffee, getting on the phone, exchanging photos, or sending emails. Now, of course, there’s social media.
All anyone has to do is log into their social media accounts to find out what all their friends’ adorable kids are doing. And when your adorable kid does something noteworthy — which is every day, right?! — you can post the evidence online yourself.
But recent surveys have shown that social media stresses out many new moms, and one reason may be that it leads to constant comparisons. You’re thrilled that your child is sitting up at six months, and you post a short video sharing her accomplishment. But then your good friend “Likes” your video and comments that her child started sitting up at age five months. Yikes!
“Social media is like a digital scrapbook,” says Deborah Weber, Ph.D., Senior Manager for Child Research at Fisher-Price. “But it reaches so many people so much faster than traditional scrapbooks. People use social media to highlight memorable moments, moments they’re celebrating, things they want everyone to see. But you have to remember there are other things that go on behind the scenes, too.”
Meaning, of course, that you may be seeing a photo of your friend’s cute baby hugging a teddy bear, but you’re certainly not seeing a video of that same child having an out-of-control crying and screaming binge the night before.
So don’t let what you see online make you doubt your own parenting skills and your baby’s accomplishments. “I remember, before social media, feeling some of that pressure myself,” admits Dr. Weber. “My daughter never crawled, and she was the last baby in my circle of friends to walk. But she’s eight now, and she’s just fine. In terms of baby and developmental milestones, remember that children develop at their own pace and reach milestones at different times. They may develop some skills faster or slower than other babies, but they’re still on track.”
Keeping this in mind goes a long way toward easing the stress of social media comparisons. And if you’re worried about your baby because of something you saw online, check with your pediatrician or health care provider.
Social media is great for keeping moms connected, and these days, if you’re not on it, you probably feel as if you’re missing out on what people are talking about. “Use it for its positive aspects, but if you find that it’s stressing you out, then take a break and go back when you’re ready," says Dr. Weber. "There are so many other things you’re probably worrying about as a mom, you don’t want social media to make you feel bad.”
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.