Some parents insist on being unnecessarily precise with children's ages

It makes sense to break down babies' ages into months in their first year, but why do it after that?

It makes sense to break down babies' ages into months in their first year, but why do it after that?

OPINION: The other day I got one of those automated parenting newsletter emails entitled "Your 34-month-old" and it reminded me of one of my greatest parenting pet peeves.

Why do some parents insist on referring to their kids by months of age?

Up until the age of 1, sure, I understand it because before then they are zero, except of course you can't refer to them as zero when they're living, breathing, spewing, and eating in front of you, so you have to put a number on it and months seems obvious.

From left, Ian Barauti, aged 4, Carter Culver, 3, and Louis Seupule-Thompson, 3, from Lower Hutt. That's not specific ...

From left, Ian Barauti, aged 4, Carter Culver, 3, and Louis Seupule-Thompson, 3, from Lower Hutt. That's not specific enough for some people.

There's also a huge difference between a  3-month-old and a 9-month-old, developmentally, so breaking it down into monthly segments makes sense, but after 1? I don't understand.

READ MORE: Australian father labelled 'sicko' for changing son's nappy in parents' room

Saying a kid is 13 months old, 15 months old or 21 months old is usually completely irrelevant to the other person. If they don't have kids, or it has been a while since they have been around kids, it just forces them to do some maths in their heads, which then leads to a weird stalling in the conversation. 

It also doesn't tell that person what they want to know, which is essentially where is this baby or toddler at in the scheme of baby or toddlerhood?

The other person generally wants to know their age so they can say "Oh my granddaughter is 2, too", so telling a lovely older person that you have a  21-month-old will likely confuse them no end.

After 1, my terms of reference are: "Just turned 1" (12-16 months), "almost 18 months" or "a year-and-a-half "(16-20 months), "almost 2" (20-24 months) and from then on, we go up in the same fashion.

When someone tells me their kids is 21 months, it does little except tell me that a) it is probably their first child, because they have the ability and awareness still to know what day of the month it is and exactly how long it has been since they brought this beautiful creature into the world, and b) they're probably the type of person who celebrated their five-month dating anniversary with their first love.

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It does get easier with subsequent children. With my second child, when people ask me how old she is, I just say "she's 2 on Christmas Day" and then that not only gives the other person a frame of reference that they're so desperately after, but also becomes a great conversation topic starter. It works all year round. I've been known to pull out the Christmas Day card in January.

In a couple of weeks my 35.5-month-old turns 3 and I can barely believe it.

When you talk about developmental leaps, the change between 2 and 3 is absolutely huge and it is nice, albeit bittersweet, to be able to see the end of the toddler years and the start of this very real character emerge.

We have survived the terrible twos – and they were terrible in a different way than I was expecting – and are now well into the throes of the threenager years.

And, of course, with much anticipation of the 3rd birthday also comes the very welcome 20 hours' free childcare.

At a friend's little boy's 3rd birthday last week I congratulated her on the welcome financial relief, much like a father sometimes getting congratulated for "giving" his daughter away.

OK, that wasn't the best analogy, but I do feel like the early childhood subsidy is like the Government's way of saying well done… you're still sane, kind of, here is some time back to yourself so your kid, who has reached the milestone of 36 months, can go and socialise and learn, and you can catch your breath.

Anyway, this  409-month-old columnist is taking a stand: I am deregistering my email address from the useless newsletter that not only refuses to let go of the month-old references, but also offers me such great life tips such as throwing confetti – confetti! – into the toilet and telling my boy to aim for it. Seriously?

I'm all for offering encouragement, but the neat freak side of me (which I've already had to severely ignore since having kids) just sees mess and disaster. The only thing messier than confetti is wet confetti soaked in wees.

No thanks. 

 - Stuff


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