I Refuse to Call My One-Year-Old a Toddler

>> 2.01.2013

The simplest things get to me since becoming a mom. Like, around the time Ada turned 6 months old, a laundry detergent commercial reduced me to a teary, blubbering mess.  

“You have a child forever,” the announcer warmly spoke into my heart,
“. . . but a baby for only one year.”

Hold up! This wild ride of parenthood started a short time ago, I thought. How the heck can it go any faster? A baby is a baby for two years, am I right?

Well, contrary to my long-held belief, my friends and family told me I was indeed wrong. According to most basic information I can find on the subject, indeed – the term “toddler” refers to a child:

  • Ages 1 to 3. Check.
  • Whose weight has tripled since birth. Check.
  • Who is walking on his/her own. Check.
  • Etc.
So, technically—all signs point to yes. My little Ada toddles on her two delicious, chubby feet. She has 12 going on 16 sharp teeth, four of which are molars that caused quite a stir around her first birthday. This child of mine can also identify a variety of people/animals/things by name, current favorites of which are “dada,” “owl,” and “ball,” respectively.

She even has her own purse, car, and kitchen for goodness sake.

She's a T------

Still, for some reason, I am absolutely unwilling to accept that this now 14-almost-15-month-old is a full-on toddler. I have trouble saying the word. Writing it. Typing it out. I must force myself. Perhaps it’s my own issue, the one where I’m clinging to the new mom title. Surely a mom of a toddler can’t hide behind that all-forgiving fa├žade anymore.

And if not, I’ll be screwed for excuses as to why my house is a disaster and my hair hasn’t been washed in two days. Yes. That stuff still happens more frequently than I'd like to admit.

True. Ada’s turning into quite the little person, but I argue she’s not yet a toddler. In my own selfish quest, I’ve discovered some points to help my case. Please hear me out on why I should enjoy Ada’s baby status for 10 more months.

// The 18-24-month size. Even clothing companies are confused about the delineation of baby/toddler. Why else would the Gap, for example, manufacture size 2T, but then “baby” clothes that fit up to 24 months? That’s right, BABY clothes.

// Airplane Seating. Children under the age of 2 can fly free, no? It’s because they are still—yes—babies and can easily be held and soothed (jury’s out on that one) in their mother’s or father’s arms.

// Cribs. Most people I know have their babies sleeping in a crib until age 2. Then a toddler or other big kid bed after their second birthday. Cribs are for, you guessed it, babies.

// Naps, potty training, rear-facing car seats, etc. When browsing around for the recommended age to change most any process or practice from babyhood, the magical age time and time again is 2. Two years old. Babies certainly can’t handle so much more change than they are already going through. Are you with me yet?

// Common age-speak. Stay with me on this one. I’ve always been annoyed by moms saying their child is “X months old” after the first birthday. Now? I totally get it. I feel like it doesn’t happen as much after age 2. In my opinion, only a baby’s age should be measured in terms of months, not a toddler’s.

Admittedly, Ada made a gigantic jump toward my own internal definition of toddlerdom over the past two weeks since I wrote this piece. She woke up and was just . . . different. Putting all the puzzle pieces in the right spots, running swiftly versus duck-walking, taking complicated directions (like "why don't you go get a book and your cup and take it to grandpa!").

I may need to just give in. Admit emotional defeat.

What do you think? I propose we strike a compromise. 18 months?

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