This post also appeared on in the opinion section of the Cape Cod Times, a division of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc.

All new parents are competitive when it comes to their babies.

I blame all the stupid parenting Web sites, books and magazines that list out developmental milestones that each baby should reach by a certain age. And even though they all say not to hold hard and fast to each and every milestone because babies develop at different paces, parents do use these as measuring sticks and for bragging rights.

Hell, I’ve been guilty of it myself. “Can your baby roll over? No? Oh, that’s too bad. Mine’s been doing it for two weeks now!” I’m even competitive when it comes to height and weight. But even though I realize it’s getting a little ridiculous, I just can’t help myself. I want Will to be better, faster and smarter than every other baby.

To showcase what I’m talking about, here are the milestones to be reached in the 4th month:

The typical 4-month-old should:

  • Show a slowing of weight gain to approximately 20 grams per day
  • Demonstrate the fading of the infant reflexes (Moro reflex, asymmetric tonic neck reflex, rooting reflex, and Perez reflex)
  • Have almost no head lag while in a sitting position
  • Be able to sit up straight if propped
  • Raise head 90 degrees when placed on stomach
  • Be able to roll from front to back
  • Try to reach objects with hands (may commonly overshoot)
  • Play with rattle when it’s placed in the hands, but won’t be able to pick it up if dropped
  • Be able to grasp rattle with both hands
  • Be able to place objects in mouth


A 4-month-old is expected to:

  • Have well-established close vision
  • Have beginning eye-hand coordination
  • Be able to babble and coo
  • Be able to laugh out loud
  • Anticipate feeding when able to see a bottle (if bottle-fed)
  • Begin to show memory
  • Demand attention by fussing
  • Recognize parent voice or touch


I’m happy to say that Will has not only met these goals, he has surpassed them. For example:

Will doesn’t just roll over. He rolls over, spins in a 360-degree circle and starts to breakdance.

Forget cooing and babbling, Will is already talking. And not just talking, he’s speaking in iambic pentameter and yesterday he came up with a haiku. It went:

I am so hungry

Daddy sucks at feeding me

There’s food in my eye

I left a pencil near Will today and he didn’t just manage to pick it up, but by the time I came back to him he had solved a quantum physics equation, balanced our checkbook and written a very poignant letter to President Bush calling for the immediate removal of our soldiers from Iraq.

He changed his own diaper yesterday and dressed himself.

I thought he just liked banging on the keyboard when I sit him at the computer, but I realized he was able to refinance our mortgage.

He is not only able to pick up a rattle and hold it, he has started a band in which he plays the maracas. They call themselves the Baby Shakers.


So what can your baby do?

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