Is It Because She's Vegan?
My daughter is 15 months old (on the date of this writing) and she's not quite walking on her own yet, though she has made many strides over the last few weeks. She likes to practice a lot by crib-, couch-, and coffee table-walking. She also likes to walk around with her little walking stroller. Typically, she will stand, clap and smile with glee about her standing, and then she will either launch herself into my arms like she's doing a forward trust fall or squat down and proceed to crawl with lightning-fast speed. While all the other babies in her infant room were walking before they transitioned to the toddler room, my girl was not. Am I worried? Not at all. She's developing perfectly, and she's not behind. She only looks like she's behind because her friends all walk. However, they say the average age babies really start walking is 15-18 months. (Here is an article for reference. And another.) The only reason I even mention this is because I feel anxiety about her development because she's vegan. This is an unfortunate response to the pressures of society, but the reality is we're still in a place where many people raise eyebrows when children are raised to not consume animal products. I would imagine, however, that there have been other babies, out of the billions of babies who have been born, who weren't walking independently at 15 months, and it's likely that a fraction of a percent of them were raised vegan, if that. It has nothing to do with what they're fed, especially in today's civilized society.
Do I think she's not walking because she's vegan? Not for a second. I think she's a cautious baby who likes to practice things a million times before she feels confident in doing them. I have seen her do this with everything; she does not just jump in. I don't mind that she's not a daredevil. She just likes to make sure before she really commits. I also think I could have started practicing with her earlier than I did. But none of that matters because she's vegan. So I have anxiety about it. Another girl in her class who is older than my daughter knows how to walk but doesn't really want to, and that's OK! She prefers crawling at this point because it's easier and she reaches her destination more quickly. Regardless, no one bats an eye unless it's really reached a point where there's cause for concern. I will say, no one has said a word to me about it, and it's very possible no one has even thought about it. Certainly, her pediatrician and her teachers are not concerned. It's very possible no one is concerned. I still have anxiety about it because society is still, for the most part, in a place where we think we need animal products to thrive. I am constantly concerned about her development and hitting milestones because I'm waiting for the comments (which may never come). I will add that I don't think people raise their eyebrows as much (or at all) at kids who are allergic to dairy because that's not a choice. But what's the difference, ultimately?
Here's the thing: the most frustrating thing about it is that none of the milestones she hit early were attributed to her veganism, of course. But that is FINE! I'm sure the way she eats has absolutely nothing to do with it. For example, she started rolling from front to back before she was 3.5 months old, I'm sure she did that so early because I practiced with her a lot. That's it. She figured it out for herself and she did it. Additionally, her pediatrician said she is advanced in her fine motor skills development. Which is great! But I'm also sure that has nothing to do with how she eats. I DO think it has to do with the fact that we opted to go the baby-led weaning route because she's been developing her pincer grasp for a very long time. Also, her teachers say she is advanced in her nonverbal communication. Wonderful! But it's not because she's vegan. How about the fact that she started getting teeth earlier than her other friends did? Who cares? I don't think this makes her special. Parents are judged for everything they do, whether it's using homeopathic remedies or feeding their kids junk for breakfast. Chances are, we all feel eyes on us from parents who know and do "better." Especially if our kids don't do things at the exact same time other kids do.
The bottom line is kids, like flowers, grow at different rates and there is no sense comparing your kid to someone else's. Different conditions can foster different growth rates. As long as your child is developing and advancing, there isn't usually cause for concern.