The Comparison Trap



“What? He’s rolling already? When did he start doing that?”

At 3 months, 10 days. But he only started doing it on one side!

“He’s sitting up? My baby just….lies there.”

Eh, she’s a month younger, don’t stress it.

“How is it that he’s 5 months old and he can stand?”

He’s not actually ‘standing’, he’s supported by the couch.

“Eh, he’s standing. Mine doesn’t even do the tripod sitting up thing yet.”

Don’t worry, he’ll be sitting soon. 


I’ve been posting pictures of Scrumplet doing things that seem beyond his age.

5 month old baby standing

Scrumplet, just over 5 months old, standing supported by the arm of the couch, stealing tissues.

(this picture was shared on my Facebook page – come like it for more beyond-the-blog goodness!)

No, I’m not showing off. I just want to share his chubby thighs for the world to see.

It’s also my way of documenting his baby years.

But by doing so, I’ve opened my baby up to the comparison trap.

One that I’m oh-so-familiar with, having had my first child almost the same time as at least half a dozen of my friends.

Who weaned first, who slept through the night first, who crawled first, who walked first, who said the first word first, who said Mama first.

It wasn’t a competition. It was the opposite of competition which is worse – we were comparing our children to see how far behind ours was, thus feeling awful for a) even comparing and b) felt like we weren’t doing enough for our child if he or she wasn’t on par with his or her peers.

We mothers cannot lay on the self-guilt fast enough. We always think it’s our fault. Something we didn’t do. Something we could have done more of.

I have friends and family who became first-time mothers the same time I had my second.

They’re watching my son’s development, which yes, seems advanced for his age, and they’re worrying about their own babies.

So I am here to tell you: STOP WORRYING AND COMPARING.

Every baby is different. My own two babies are different. They develop at their own pace. They will get there eventually. By the time they are 2, or 3, they all catch up eventually.

Looking at my now nearly 3 year old, no one would have guessed he took his first steps at nearly 15 months old. 3 to 4 months later than his peers.

It didn’t matter then, it most certainly doesn’t matter now.

So friends, unless it’s a worrying developmental delay, please don’t stress. Your baby will roll over, she will sit up, she will, yes, stand, and my goodness, she will be running all over the place and climbing into cupboards before you know it.

Trust me.

Have you ever fallen into the comparison trap before?



  1. Speak Your Mind


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  2. Laura | Mommy Miracles
    Twitter: LauraORourke

    I find myself doing this so much now that I have a baby again. I want him to be excellent, superior. He’s (one of my) pride and joys and I really want to show him off.

    I do this, but I don’t want to. I try not to.

    He’s sitting. Yes. But he’s rolled like twice in his short life. Just enough to say, “look. I’ve done it. Now can we move on?”. I think he’s teaching me to be content with who he is NOW and not worry about anyone else.
    Laura | Mommy Miracles ‘s last awesome post..What Do a Busy Mom and a Fisherman Have in Common?My Profile

  3. Julie says:

    For an anxiety-ridden nutcase, I was surprisingly laid back about developmental milestones during the first year! Any time I’d start to get nervous, he’d do whatever it was he was supposed to do like, “Mom, what’s your problem?”


    I am LOVING the leg chub.

  4. Masala Chica says:

    A friend of mine said it best. Look, I have yet to see a ten year old drinking out of a bottle or a six year old in a diaper. Everyone needs to freaking chill. I mean, don’t neglect them so that you have CPS called on you ass, but embrace the way each of your children grows, no matter the path.

    Family I find is the worst – comparing your first to your second and saying things like – well Shaila was already talking and composing operas by this age and Nico can’t even recite his numbers in Welsh – what’s going on? (Just joking, but still serious. Kind of).

    Masala Chica ‘s last awesome post..Try. Try Again.My Profile

  5. HapaMama
    Twitter: HapaMamaGrace

    Oh yeah. Been there before. I hate to say it doesn’t get any easier as your kids get older. But that aha! moment when you realize what you’re thinking is silly does seem to happen more quickly… Great post!
    HapaMama ‘s last awesome post..Pumpkin Curry Chicken Pot PieMy Profile

  6. AnnMarie says:

    It’s the worst part of parenting with friends, if you ask me. The company is great…the playdates…wonderful but the comparing…will drive you insane! I am raising Gia while my two younger sisters have sons her age. Gia is my fourth child so I am more laid back having watched my kids reach milestones at different ages. My nephews are the first borns for my sisters and once in awhile this comes up. Hopefully, I help them keep that stuff at bay. I will tell you that I fell into this trap ALL the time raising my twins. It was impossible not to and yes…it made me crazy.
    AnnMarie ‘s last awesome post..Wheaton Football: A Mom’s PerspectiveMy Profile

  7. erin margolin says:

    um, yes. you’d be describing me. piper isn’t walking yet. she’s not self feeding yet, but won’t let me feed her. very frustrating. she’s babbling but no real words yet. and no, she’s not readiing or potty trained (LOL, today is her 1st bday)….so thank you for this. I need to remind myself more often. it’s so hard. although i’m also going through this with my twins right now. and it’s so in my face b/c they’re together and the same exact age, yet with totally different talents, abilities, strengths, weaknesses….no one told me it would be this hard! i need to let go…
    erin margolin ‘s last awesome post..One Sentence at a Time.My Profile

  8. Alma says:

    I have been there. Maybe at some point we all do it. The difference is I keep it to myself because I know that every child is different. Both my kids have developed differently and have thought to myself thoughts of comparison. My they are my thoughts. I dont like it when other parents or families put their two cents in. It is easy not avoid but trust your instincts and listen to your voice, its what got me through.
    Alma ‘s last awesome post..A Gift Of Inspiration: A Guest Post from the CaptainMy Profile

  9. Maureen | Scoops of Joy
    Twitter: tatterscoops

    You nailed it, Alison! So many of us fell victims of this. I know I did being the worry wart self that I used to be. Those baby books also doesn’t help either. When I saw my friend’s baby who learned the baby sign language back in those early days of motherhood, I was disheartened. I felt like a bad mom for not teaching my son the ‘trend’ of baby sign language. Boy, was I guilty! Today, my son is the eldest in his kindergarten and there are still some things that his younger peers are ahead of him but I had stopped worrying too much (not really sure when did I stopped hah!). He will finally catches on. I’m just happy he is healthy and happy.
    Maureen | Scoops of Joy ‘s last awesome post..Little FaithMy Profile

  10. Keely
    Twitter: Lollygagblog

    When Susannah was 11 months old and sans teeth, I actually had someone say- Are you going to DO anything about that?! (Like, uh…what would you recommend?)
    Keely ‘s last awesome post..The Glass Menagerie.My Profile

  11. Elaine A. says:

    I think it’s just human nature to do this, especially for first time parents, but yeah, it can get out of hand. I’ve been a “victim” of it myself. ;)

    And thanks for sharing the cute, chubby thighs with us!!
    Elaine A. ‘s last awesome post..The Burning of Big Tex and My MOST ReTweeted Pic Ever!My Profile

  12. Tonya says:

    Ugh! The comparison game when it comes to baby’s firsts (and everything else) really sucks. It’s hard not to get wrapped up in it when your feel like your baby is behind.

    Cute photo!
    Tonya ‘s last awesome post..HopeMy Profile

  13. tracy@sellabitmum says:

    I do so much just want to nibble on his thighs…

    I’m weird in that I wanted my babies to just sit there and NOT MOVE ever because once they start moving…well, holy hell. xo
    tracy@sellabitmum ‘s last awesome post..Homebody – Outside The Zone #SOCSundayMy Profile

  14. Courtney Kirkland
    Twitter: CourtneyKirklnd

    This post is such a great reminder. I get frustrated when moms start playing the compare and contrast game with their kids. Like you said, in a few years, they all level out in one way or another. Some may be better at some things than others, but everyone’s child has a weakness in the end. I think we need to focus more on loving our kids and encouraging their growth than on focusing on where we feel like they are “lagging.”
    Courtney Kirkland ‘s last awesome post..It’s all Coming to an EndMy Profile

  15. Leslie says:

    Great post! It’s so hard not to compare. We all want our kids to be the best and the brightest. But these really aren’t worth the stress. As for scrumplet…it’s fantastic he’s doing so well & I don’t envy the scampering around you’ll have to do when he starts walking soon!
    Leslie ‘s last awesome post..Halloween Costumes for a 3-Year OldMy Profile

  16. Jamie@southmainmuse
    Twitter: southmainmuse

    All mine were well over a year, about 15 mons before they started walking. I never pressured them in part because my mother was freaky about the importance of crawling to brain development. You are so right. It’s best to relax and let nature take its course.
    Jamie@southmainmuse ‘s last awesome post..Money, Money, Money . . . Can You Ask for It? #SOCSMy Profile

  17. Alexandra says:

    When I meet a woman who compares my kids against hers?

    I head for the hills.

    My litmus test right there.
    Alexandra ‘s last awesome post..Scared CleanMy Profile

  18. Natalie says:

    Love this post! Each kid develops at his/her own pace! It definitely can stress you out about hitting certain milestones…when it really shouldn’t and we should just enjoy each stage.
    Natalie ‘s last awesome post..Time for Pumpkin Pickin’!My Profile

  19. lisacng @
    Twitter: lisacng

    My now-2-yr-old also didn’t start walking until late — 16 months! But now, he’s walking and running fine, he’s talking in simple sentences, and he can do all the things the other 2-yr do. Well, except for sitting on the potty. He’s not into that yet, and I’m trying really hard not to compare him to other kids in his daycare class. I need to remember (just like I wrote myself here that he’ll do it when he’s ready and not a moment sooner. Thanks for writing this post to others and to yourself. Kids are all different. Kids do things at different times. Do we really want to spend our days worrying about what milestone they HAVEN’T reached, or do we want to celebrate the ones they HAVE reached? So, when I’m around other parents, I don’t ask “milestone” questions. If they want to talk about it, they can.
    lisacng @ ‘s last awesome post..Are blogs receiving less comments these days?My Profile

  20. Mrs. Weber
    Twitter: laurenweber84

    YES! I just made a major mistake – I posted Karina’s 2-month stats on my Facebook. Should not have done that…I boasted she was sleeping through the night and ended up getting a slew of comments from sleep deprived parents. I wasn’t trying to brag, but share for the grandparents/family…I’ll just leave that to email next time! Comparing is EVIL. She may be sleeping through the night, but at 3 months has no interest in rolling over! Every baby is SO different, but all fabulous I’m quickly learning :)

    P.S. Love the photo of Scrumplet getting into trouble. Please keep sharing his chubby baby thighs!
    Mrs. Weber ‘s last awesome post..Tiny Prints for Gorgeous Holiday Cards {+ Giveaway!}My Profile

  21. KalleyC
    Twitter: KalleyC

    When I had Zee, I didn’t really have anyone to compare with. I was the only one in my family to have a young child. However, that didn’t stop family members from asking what can she do now, and telling me when their child (who are now grown adults) did what when.

    I know that when my second comes, I know that I will probably fall into the trap (comparing the first with the second) but I hope I can remember that they are two different people.

    Honestly, the worst time that I have experienced comparison is at the Dr.’s office when he’s asking me why isn’t she don’t xyz yet. now that is annoying.
    KalleyC ‘s last awesome post..Four Deadly Words (to moms)My Profile

  22. sarah @sundayspill says:

    I remember doingthe comparing thing a little the first time around. Eh, it really all evens out eventually. And now with oscar I have to remind myself to let him go and not hold him back just because I’m not ready for him to grow up. Sigh.

  23. Kir says:

    oh yes, but not of my own making. When the boys were born, I was just happy that they were here, alive, healthy. I listened as dr’s said things like, “big for their gestational age” and “measuring like single babies” ..and I let the rest roll off my back. I wanted them to reach milestones but I wasn’t consumed with when or how.
    My guilty place, comparing them to each other…and that still happens sometimes, I see what Gio is capable of and how Jacob still struggles with it, or vice versa (but I know that it’s a comparison of my own making)

    I know that all children will get there in their own time, that “when” is not as important as the “DOING”.

    the pictures of the boys, just melt me. They are both getting so big…and so handsome.
    Kir ‘s last awesome post..Stream of Consciousness: Everybody Plays the Fool..Sometimes?My Profile

  24. Arnebya says:

    They will all eventually get to a place where we will muse over all that they’re doing and wonder why we ever worried. But, yes, I’ve worried. I think we all do. It’s when it becomes overwhelming that we need to realize it’s pointless. It’s easier, I think, when you have more than one child and can see firsthand how babies develop differently. Like you, all three of mine were different in many, many ways. You take it as it comes. Sure, you worry about them not doing something another child is doing but then you remember — whatever; he’s doing this, this, and this, and neither of his sisters did those things until later or at all. So there. (It’s a good rule of thumb to always think your child is better at everything but just never saying it out loud).
    Arnebya ‘s last awesome post..This Child Is Your Child, This Child Is My Child (and neither is better than the other. Right?)My Profile

  25. Runnermom-jen says:

    Yes, yes, and yes…each baby is SO different. Each one of my kids did things in their own time. It is easy to fall into the ‘comparison trap’ though.
    Runnermom-jen ‘s last awesome post..If You Don’t, Who Will?My Profile

  26. Stasha says:

    I avoided hanging out with mommy groups after we did a music class when J was a few months old and I saw the comparison wars first hand. We all have our natural strengths and I truly need not compare myself or my son to someone else’s. Everyone in their own sweet time I say…
    Great topic to talk about ALison.
    Stasha ‘s last awesome post..Monday ListiclesMy Profile

  27. The Dose of Reality says:

    So, so true!
    When my oldest was little, I was always such a worrier. It was hard not to compare him to others looking for ways in which he was “behind” —because maybe I wasn’t doing something I should…or maybe I was doing things I shouldn’t. I think I just wasn’t very confident in my own parenting so it led to a lot of second guessing.

    It wasn’t until he was older that I realized all that stress and worry was for absolutely nothing. As I grew into my own as a parent, it helped. I’ve become more laid back and wish I could have been that way all along. For some of us, it takes longer than others, I guess! :)

  28. Amanda Jillian
    Twitter: faeriebarista

    Oh yeah, not so much with AJ but I get it a ton with Ariel and whenever someone brings it up I’m like well she was 2 months premature, and they shut up lol.
    Amanda Jillian ‘s last awesome post..Pumpkins Pumpkins PumpkinsMy Profile

  29. Barbara says:

    I wish I found myself comparing with strangers’ kids. Instead I find myself comparing between my two boys – something I swore I would never do.
    Barbara ‘s last awesome post..Bon Week-endMy Profile

  30. Kristin says:

    Oof, yes. Sometimes I think it doesn’t stop…my daughter is 9, and when I speak to other children her age, I end up comparing them in my mind. They speak more clearly, are more comfortable with adults, etc etc. There’s no developmental issues, but it can be SO easy to just think “ok, do I socialize her with adults more? Do we start vocab flashcards? Do we…”

    It’s easy to never reach that “enough” invisible goal in our minds. I try to shush that voice by going over all the amazing things she does and wants to do, that set her apart from her peers, and it usually works :)
    Kristin ‘s last awesome post..I don’t forgive you…yetMy Profile

  31. Galit Breen says:

    *Such* an easy trap to fall into!

    And those thighs? Delicious!

    Galit Breen ‘s last awesome post..Pantene Beautiful Lengths {Locks of Love}My Profile

  32. Christine @ Love, Life, Surf says:

    Isn’t it crazy that posting pictures of cute chubby baby thighs (please don’t stop btw) opens up this whole other line of discussion? And isn’t it crazy that our poor babies are stuck in the comparison trap by no fault of their own? It’s not quite fair. I hated it and remember feeling so insecure with my first and being so worried. At least with the 2nd I could care less so there’s that :-)
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf ‘s last awesome post..Going to BootcampMy Profile

  33. Jessica says:

    Hoorah for talking sense! It is so hard to put this into practice (especially as a new mommy) until you have heard someone say it. And then it all falls into place and though you often can’t stop from wondering and sometimes the wonder turns to worry, you can at least lay aside the guilt. Love is all they need, they will bloom in their own time, in their own ways, when they are ready. (also sorry for being such a poor reader/commenter lately.)
    Jessica ‘s last awesome post..Pioneer Day, Part #3My Profile

  34. My Inner Chick
    Twitter: krrobi

    —Yes, I remember the comparison trap well.

    Mr. L and I were in a parent group where one of the couples continually bragged about their son. “Gavin does this. He’s walking. He’s talking. He’s swimming. He’s speaking French…Blah blah.”

    We still laugh about it now exclaiming…. “I bet Gavin is at Harvard now!”

    Sooo damn annoying.

    My Inner Chick ‘s last awesome post..Mr. Craig, Kardashian Sucks, & Visualizing MetaphorsMy Profile

  35. Ma. Teresa Grech Q. Racal says:

    This is so true. Every child IS REALLY different from the other.
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  36. Katie E
    Twitter: euregirlsandboy

    I love the picture :) And I have been guilty – I’ve generally been more relaxed with this third kid, but I’ll admit his plan to not talk has started getting to me recently, especially when I hear friends with kids the same age (or months younger!) talking about all the things their kids are saying. Thanks for the reminder not to compare!
    Katie E ‘s last awesome post..A Little Help with Growing Up (Papersalt Books Review)My Profile

  37. Rach (DonutsMama) says:

    I really had to learn the hard way not to compare. I felt like I was criticizing D for not being where I (or other people) thought she should be. Took me months to realize that she’ll get there when she gets there. Now I fret about her being introverted and not playing as much with other kids or being as adventurous and I realized I need to just STOP and let her be who she is.
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  38. angela says:

    Yes … sigh. Between my own. A talked so early, and D was slightly behind. But after her he seemed even MORE behind, but I thankfully talked myself out of my tizzy :)
    angela ‘s last awesome post..Tender is the Night – A Book ReviewMy Profile

  39. Lady Jennie says:

    It’s so true that I’m more likely to do the opposite of comparing – worry about my own kids than be puffed up with pride. I think I finally got it right with the third. I just so enjoy it, even though he seems behind in a lot of ways. I’m not in the least bit worried.
    Lady Jennie ‘s last awesome post..BraveryMy Profile

  40. The Mommy Therapy
    Twitter: themommytherapy

    I don’t often compare my children, but I compare myself to other Moms all the time. I see what others are doing or not doing and wonder why I can’t get it together like they are. It is a losing game for sure, but it is a constant battle with myself to not participate.

    Those thighs though? You should totally be bragging about those thighs. He’s too cute!
    The Mommy Therapy ‘s last awesome post..Perhaps My Inadequacies Are Just Wonderful In DisguiseMy Profile

  41. Erin
    Twitter: UniquelyEN

    Such good advise! You are right it is so easy to begin worrying when you hear about other children and their abilities. Again, you are correct with the fact that all children do in fact develop at their own pace. I always have/had stuck in my brain that if there was something wrong I wanted to make sure to get help as soon as possible. The sooner the better . . . this is carved in my brain. I see children every day {at work} who struggle and who are behind and often it’s because their parents simply didn’t realize that their children weren’t quite doing what they should be {Not trying to judge. I know the parents love their children and what the best for them. To put it simply it’s just the lack of knowledge regarding what’s developmentally appropriate.} Oh if only there were a manual for parenting.
    Erin ‘s last awesome post..7 Year Old Phineas and Ferb BirthdayMy Profile

  42. MommaKiss says:

    my boys are 7 and 5. I’m still comparing. not in a bad way – but in a “huh, that’s interesting way.”
    also, thank you for the thighs. smoochalicious.
    MommaKiss ‘s last awesome post..Life as a leftyMy Profile

  43. vanita says:

    those legs! i love ‘em. great advice girl. love it when you tell it as it and then end by being all bossy
    vanita ‘s last awesome post..Blog Moving MiseriesMy Profile

  44. Julia
    Twitter: juliahembree

    That is such a hard trap to fall into, isn’t it?
    At the beginning, I did a lot of baby comparisons. Not to judge, but because you want to make sure that your child is doing ok, that you are doing ok as a Mommy.
    But you are so very right…none of that matters does it? The milestones matter, but not when they happen, and all children will grow up when they are ready.
    I love this reminder to remember that children and time happen on their own.
    Julia ‘s last awesome post..When A Mommy Heart BreaksMy Profile

  45. Lucy
    Twitter: lucilleinthesky

    Comparison is one of those facts of human nature that we need to slowly remove from the gene pool, evolving away from comparison and towards the empowering knowledge that every one of us, and every child, is perfect, unique and whole. “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.”
    Lucy ‘s last awesome post..writing just to write, but not posting just to postMy Profile

  46. Sandra says:

    Of course the kid is advanced beyond his age…look at his super duper Rockstar mother!!! Seriously though, this comparison stuff is the reason I avoided all those mommy-and-me groups. My first child was quite a little firecracker, but the others weren’t so quick….although the first one is now 16 and has reverted to the years when all he could do was be propped up by pillows.

  47. Phase Three of Life says:

    Ryan didn’t walk until 15 months either, and I never worried about it. I knew it was just sort of his cautious nature to not do things until he was 100 percent confident he wouldn’t fall. I knew he was capable and would do it in his own time. But I did worry that OTHERS worried about it. I wanted to constantly reassure people that *I* wasn’t worried because I always felt like people were saying “oh yes, I’m sure he’ll walk soon!” just to make me feel better, even thought I felt fine.

    No idea whether I’m making any sense. Bottom line: Totally agree that we shouldn’t compare.
    Phase Three of Life ‘s last awesome post..Fall: East Coast vs. Desert.My Profile

  48. Greta @gfunkified says:

    My sisters-in-law and I did it a lot when we had our babies (my first, their third and second) because they were all born in the same year. It’s so hard not to! And now with my third and her cousin….it’s happening again, even behind closed doors. Ack!
    Greta @gfunkified ‘s last awesome post..Project 365: Week 42My Profile

  49. Charlotte says:

    I imagine it’s very difficult not to fall into this trap. I remember chatting with one of my best friends a few months after she had her first and she was saying things like, “I can’t believe her teeth haven’t come in yet,” and I thought, I don’t even HAVE kids, so there’s no sense in comparing to my babylessness! And I wanted desperately to hug her. We put enough pressure on ourselves; we don’t need to apply any more when it comes to our children reaching certain goals.

    As you said, they all make it there eventually :)
    Charlotte ‘s last awesome strollers are not meant to be used as weaponsMy Profile

  50. Crystal
    Twitter: MommiFried

    My daughter started walking at 9-months. Today at 10-months, she’s running! She has hit all her milestones early. My three boys were either right on time or late. They all develop differently and when they are ready. :)
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  51. Amanda
    Twitter: lilahbility

    This time around, I am NOT in a rush for my baby to do anything. I want to preserve his babyness for as long as possible – I know how quickly it passes! Lilah walked very early, at nine and a half months and that opened her up for major comparisons, but I now know what a pain in the butt a walking baby is! She had absolutely zero concept of danger and I spent many months with my heart in my throat chasing a fearless baby on the move. Now I know not to rush things too much, and not to worry about what anyone else’s baby is doing or what my baby isn’t doing. As you say, barring a major developmental delay, babies will just do things on their own time, whether we stress about it or not.
    Amanda ‘s last awesome post..Patch.My Profile

  52. Kristin @ What She Said says:

    Yes, I’ve absolutely played the comparison game, if only in my own head. (I tried not to verbalize it too much and risk letting others in on my neuroses.) ;) But I distinctly remember fretting over how Lil’ Bit had not yet rolled from back to belly or started crawling by the time she was 10 months old. Looking at her now, two years later, I have to laugh at how stupid I was – the kid RUNS everywhere she goes and is a total stomach-sleeper. ;)

    That said, I used to have a friend (the one with whom I’ve since cut ties and have mentioned here before), who drove me crazy with the way she constantly compared our daughters’ vocabularies. Hers is a month younger than mine and both are very bright girls. But whenever we were out together, her daughter would clam up while mine chattered away. And my former friend would harp on and on about how her daughter talked all the time at home and how both of our kids had such amazing vocabularies and, really, I should hear how much her daughter talked at home… and so forth and so on. I just wanted to be like, “Enough already!” And in our eventual falling out, I did call her on it and essentially told her she needed to get a grip.
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  53. Jessica says:

    For awhile I was comparing my two kids. Then I stopped because I realized they are so opposite.
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