Medical professionals keep referring to developmental milestones, but is our obsession with them having unexpected negative impacts? Parents who use social media frequently post so-called milestone cards, which are pastel-colored cards with the baby’s age and the date they tried to sit up, crawl, or walk.

A milestone is a behavior that parents either believe their child can perform or cannot do, according to Chris Sheldrick, a research associate professor at Boston University who specializes in pediatric screening techniques. He refers to the literal meaning of the word. A “milestone” or marker may be present at the 5K mark of a 10K race. By definition, no one has passed at the start of the race. By the end of the race, everyone has.

Understanding that achieving developmental milestones is not a race. They act as a guide for medical professionals to monitor a child’s growth and make sure it is happening at a typical rate. Parents should trust that their children can develop at their own pace and refrain from comparing their kids to other kids.