We know the major firsts - that little tooth bud, the full-faced smile, the startling roll over, that laborious crawl, those wobbly steps, and that oh-so-glorious first full night of sleep. We agonize over developmental milestones and celebrate the cute ones with pictures and videos texted to grandparents. But what about those lesser-known milestones? You know the ones I’m talking about…the ones that you hardly ever hear of and then when you tell someone about what happened at bath time the night before they’re all like oh yeah…I remember the first time my toddler pooped in the tub. What!?! Why didn’t anyone warn me? And should I have taken pictures and noted the date to put that in the baby book alongside the other milestones? Well, consider yourself prepped. We’ve put together a list of those lesser-known milestones and while yes, the first time your sweet little babe says mama will always be a favorite, let’s remember to take some time to laugh, cry, and maybe even have a stiff cocktail over some of these lesser-known but frequently occurring firsts.  

Sweet Milestones:

  • The first time your kiddo blows kisses - not usually terribly coordinated, but with a sweet palm planted over her whole mouth and then waved in your direction, you can’t help but smile
  • The first time they say “I love you” unprompted - melts me just thinking about it
  • The first time big brother or big sister makes them giggle
  • The first character they fall in love with - whether it’s Curious George, Elsa, Thomas the Train, or Peppa the Pig, you can see that excitement and love for the ridiculous cartoon or puppet in their eyes
  • Their first taste of a summer popsicle or ice cream

Challenging Milestones:

  • The first night spent awake rocking your baby while he cries from an ear infection - both of you are miserable and it’s always a little scary
  • The first day back at work after maternity leave - lots of emotions, but a milestone you should photograph to remember
  • First meal in which your kiddo realizes how popular he is with the dog while systematically pitching food off his high chair - unfortunately, this can go on for months!
  • That first poop in the bathtub - so, so gross and requires so much cleaning at the end of the day when you were hoping to settle into the couch and binge something mindless
  • The first public diaper blowout - a blowout is hard enough to handle at home, but now you’re carrying a biohazard (though an adorable one at that) through the store frantically trying to find a public restroom with a changing table and hoping that you have enough wipes and clothes in the diaper bag.  (Side note, not a bad idea to keep an extra shirt for you in the diaper bag as well!)
  • The first time your baby didn’t cry when the sitter arrived but rather smiled and clapped and didn’t even notice you leaving - instead, you cried on the way to date night
  • The first time you realize your sweet cherub might occasionally do something wrong when you watch her rip the library’s play kitchen plastic food from another toddler and then innocently look the other direction
  • The first time you truly understand why you can’t completely forgo the nap schedule - post skipped nap, the rest of the day goes just fine and lulls you into thinking hey, this is no big deal until the next day when your child is a hot mess

Embarrassing Milestones:

  • First car seat meltdown in the grocery store parking lot - especially humiliating when people walk over “just to check that everything’s ok”
  • After your toddler realizes men and women have different body parts and brings up anatomy with a stranger - “So you’ve got a vagina, too?” my daughter once asked the cashier while I tried to pay as quickly as possible.
  • The first time your toddler uses a curse word correctly - “well damnit” mine once tersely called out on a walk with the grandparents right after she’d stepped in a mud puddle…tough to explain away where she’d picked that up!
  • The first time you realize you’ve been played by your mastermind child - when daycare tells you they’ve been able to hold their own bottles for months before you realized it or when you notice on the monitor that right after they let out a cry, they calmly and suddenly turn off the waterworks and expectantly look towards the bedroom door
  • The first time you accidentally left a wet diaper in the back of the car (there was no trash can around!) and then discovered it the next day after getting smacked in the face by the stench when you open the car door

For-the-Win Milestones:

  • First date night out while grandma babysits
  • When you get to ditch that massive infant car seat - high five!
  • The first time you politely decline an older woman’s judgement of your parenting - I’m glad your babies always had their heads covered and I’m sure that worked great for you and them, but this is working for me and my baby.  Thanks for your concern and have a great day!
  • When you master the standing toddler diaper change - takes hardly any time and they don’t even have to stop playing!

Pediatrician-recognized or not, these can all be seen as parent and child rites of passage that you and your littles will go through. Lesser-known milestones may not make the parenting how-to guide books, but let’s get them out in the open so we’re not blindsided and can commiserate and celebrate with other parents. (And I mean come on, a how-to chapter in a guidebook with step-by-step directions on just exactly how one can handle a diaper blowout in a restaurant’s highchair would be helpful, am I right?).