I think competition between parents is partially motivated by a desire to know that your baby is developing normally and is hitting all their milestones and the rest is likely due to a desire to compare parenting acumen. We all want to do good for our babies, but competing with other parents, is definitely not the right way to do it. Aside from friends and family there also seems to be a fair amount of competition (or is it challenging) that comes from grandparents (at times) and inlaws especially if parental techniques don’t jive. I can speak to one of our relatives at least who doesn’t think we should feed our baby spicy foods lest he become an intolerable, gassy, insomniac! Naturally we rebelled and feed him copious amounts of garlic, Cajun spice, pepper, jerk chicken sauce or whatever we can get our hands – to his delight of course. He’s never had a problem with gas and devours the stuff like we do – we figured that Indian mothers figured this out long ago!
Competition, in a lot of ways, can be damaging to your relationship and even hold you back. For example, you might feel that because you are “falling behind” you need to put more pressure on your baby to try to get them to speed forward in effort to “catch up.” This can cause stress and actually reduce the amount of learning that happens. All babies progress exactly at their own pace and not a stride quicker. Not only this, but any ‘perceived’ shortcomings can be quickly made up over a short period of time. Delays are often overcome seemingly overnight. Therefore, I want to suggest that instead of comparing the signs you and your baby does to your neighbour, or your friend, or to whomever else, just enjoy the moments you get to spend with your baby doing something that is meant to be fun.
If you find that someone else is competing with you and you don’t like it, then just remind them about the reasons that you sign and how it doesn’t include teams comprised of other parents and their babies.. If you aren’t sure if they are competing but suspect it is so, than just pay attention to their tone and line of questioning. They usually drop plenty of signs such as asking the number of signs your baby is doing (why would this matter), when they started doing such and such a sign, if they their signs are perfectly clear or confused with others and so on. Be careful not to jump to conclusions though, sometimes mother’s (and father’s – although rarely in this department) do compare for interest sake, for something to talk about, or they have concerns about their own baby falling behind and want a comparison.
However, if someone can’t keep on task and drop the comments, criticism or even jealousy (if your baby is “winning”) then just try to avoid the topic. If that doesn’t work, remind them about how raising children isn’t a sport and you aren’t interested in racing them to some artificial finish line. If this line of reasoning is too vague, spell it out – I’m not competing with you.