Only one in ten parents rate their baby’s first steps and first words as their favourite milestone moments in their child’s life
Summer Infant urges parents to create their own cherished memories rather than focus on competitive milestone moments
In spite of being considered a major milestone in a child’s development, a baby’s first steps only rate as the favourite moment of their child’s life for a tenth of parents according to new research released by Summer Infant. Similarly, a baby’s first word – a moment shared endlessly in videos across social media and compared amongst parents – is only the favourite moment for one in ten.
One in five parents (22%) say it’s their child’s first giggle that has given them their favourite moment in their child’s life to date, double the number that rate their child’s first word or first steps as their most precious milestone moment (11% and 10% respectively). For one in 20 parents (5%) their first kiss from their child is the moment they’ll treasure most.
The very first milestone moment – meeting your baby for the first time – another moment shared widely across social media, is a moment that half (50%) of parents anticipated would be their most cherished moment of their life with their child. However, in reality it only rates as the top moment for a third (38%) once they become parents.
Summer Infant’s research, conducted with over 500 parents, demonstrates the existence of MEG – a Milestone Expectation Gap. Once they become parents many of the most famed childhood milestones – such as walking, talking and becoming potty trained – that are often the most commonly bragged about or that are built up as being particularly significant in parenting manuals become less significant than anticipated. Instead it is often the smaller moments that are about developing bonds and shared experiences that mean the most.
Asked about their favourite magical moment to date, parents talked about everything from ‘seeing my little girl show care and concern for another crying child’ to ‘their first paddle in the sea’ and ‘hearing him say I love you for the first time’. For one parent it was ‘when my six year old split her pocket money to buy something for her baby sister’.
Hashim Yilmaz, General Manager of Summer Infant and Dad to two young boys age 5 and 3, comments: “As a new parent it’s easy to become consumed by the milestone moments that parenting manuals focus on and that are bragged about by parents across social media. It’s all too easy to get hung up on the fact that your child is ahead or behind the curve or that the reality of some milestone moments hasn’t met expectation.
“But our research shows that magical emotional memories are every bit as meaningful and important as achieving key milestones. We hope that by making parents’ daily lives easier with our baby and toddler products we can allow them to focus on and cherish those special times.”
Summer Infant’s research shows that it’s not just the most looked forward to milestones that differ from expectation. Many of the most dreaded milestone moments such as potty training and fussy eating end up being overshadowed by other more emotionally challenging milestones.
Returning to work is cited by over a quarter of parents (27%) as their least favourite moment. Separation anxiety is also an unexpectedly tough milestone for many parents with one in five (20%) rating it as their least favourite phase – twice the number (11%) that rate weaning and fussy eating as tough and four times the number (5%) that say that potty training is a phase they’d rather forget!
When they contemplate the rest of their child’s life, academic milestones mean a lot, with ‘seeing them going to school on their first day’ being the milestone moment that is most looked forward to in childhood (cited by a third – 29% of parents).
A quarter (24%) are looking forward to the moment when they hear their child read for the first time, while one in six (18%) long to see their child graduate.
However, again, it’s also the emotional moments that mean just as much. One in eight parents (12%) can’t wait to see their child make their first independent friend while one in ten are looking forward to meeting their child’s life partner. But the most longed for milestone moment of all is that of meeting their child’s child – something that over a third (36%) of parents already admit to longing for.
And as the ultimate indication of just how much more emotional bonds mean than the milestone achievements, the two milestones that parents most dread are ‘feeling no longer needed’ (24%) and their ‘children leaving home’ (21%).
Hashim Yilmaz of Summer Infant said: “If you took social media as a barometer it would be all too easy to think that the defining moments of a child’s life are the big milestone moments – the first word, the first steps, the first tooth, the first birthday. But the opposite is actually true.
“It’s often the more private, emotional moments that forge the memories that will be cherished for a lifetime. Our message to parents is that childhood goes all too quickly. Seek all the help you can get so that you can enjoy the magical, simple moments that mean so much.”
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