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Who doesn’t relish, cherish and look forward to those milestones in your baby’s life?

The first smile, the first crawl, the first tooth, the first word, the first steps — these and other precious moments you hope to capture on film and in baby books.

When you see relatives’ and friends’ little ones achieving these things but yours isn’t, it’s natural to get a little concerned.

Case in point: my son is 16 months old, and he isn’t walking on his own yet. As of last Friday he was still one ounce shy of the 20-pound mark. (He was under six pounds going home from the hospital, then had reflux problems for the first nine months of life.)

Is he walking at all? Yes. He pulls himself up, walks along the furniture or whatever he’s holding onto and stands on his own. In fact, whenever he’s on the floor or in the crib when he wakes up and he has the opportunity, he’s standing. It’s just a matter of taking that step on his own, and I have no doubt that when he does he’ll be just like his big sister: There will be no stopping him.

Am I concerned? A little. Then again, my youngest sister was small at birth and didn’t take her first steps until she was 18 months old. Moreover, she walked before she crawled.

So what do the experts say? An article in the June/July 2010 edition of Baby Talk magazine quotes Dr. J. Kevin Nugent, director of the Brazelton Institute at Children’s Hospital Boston, “Children each have very different trajectories on their paths of development, and the biggest influences on development may be the child’s temperament and environment.”

When it comes to parent reference books, Nugent also notes that the guidelines listed in those books are just that — guidelines — and that every baby is different. On the other hand, if a parent is concerned about certain milestones not being reached , he or she should talk to their child’s pediatrician.

As for Jacob, he’s plugging along. He’s a happy baby, babbling, playing and working his way to walking. We’re encouraging him, and I’m sure it won’t be long until he’s literally off and running to the races!