Hey all, before I was a parent I was on board with the “he’s not 18 months, he’s a year and a half” types of posts. It seemed stupid and somehow obsessively arrogant on the part of the parents to be breaking it down into that sort of minutia. I wanted a law to stop saying months and deliver things in mathless common.
Now, as a parent I understand that the parents are giving you the benefit of believing that you might have somewhere in your experience a clue as to why they’re giving you the months.
See, here’s how it works – babies do a whole lot of things in terms of development. They babble, they play with objects, they understand words, they sleep through the night, I could go on through the list, but these are all things that a baby does, trust me, you can consult a baby if you don’t believe me.
These come by months – by 15 months, a child should be able to stand and walk unassisted. By eight months a child should be able to sleep through the night without waking. Etc. There is a standard roadmap for developmental milestones and for the first two years you go by (months + exceptions).
When a parent tells you their child is 15 months, this means you don’t have to ask all the questions of “can she walk? Does she sleep through the night? What level of object permanence does she possess?” anyone who’s familiar with any other baby should know that without a qualifier that baby is probably at this level of development.
It’s sort of like when someone tells you they’re a Junior in high school – you sort of have the expectation that they’ve already snuck their first beer or 200 and may have gotten an STD, if not a seven-month old.
You want to know how old a baby is and what they can do? Ask the question “how old is he and what does he do at this point?” When you state that you probably have no idea what a baby is supposed to be able to do at this point, a parent can easily say “oh, he’s a year and a half and here’s the list of what he can do, and here’s what he can’t but should be able to”.
As a parent I have twelve free seconds. If I can optimize my conversation with someone talking about my baby I’m going to. It’s not because I’m counting every second of my darling little one’s life, it’s because I’d like to get you the information you need in the most efficient manner possible without explaining to you what developmental milestones that ever single human on the planet went through are.
If you don’t know what those developmental milestones are, so be it, I’ve said like an extra word or two and we can get down to explaining, if you’re interested in knowing, where my baby is at.
So look at your choices:
“he’s 17 months”
“he can walk, talk, grab things, has object permanence of two and a half minutes, knows how to use a fork and spoon, knows that it’s him in the mirror, has developed hand/eye coordination to the point that he’s capable of playing patty cake. This age is also where many choose to start doing potty training. He’s wearing a size five diaper, which is average for this age…” etc. etc. etc.
Someone who tells you the months when you ask the age is doing you the courtesy of thinking you might know what that means since every human on the planet has been through this development cycle and it might answer all your follow up questions.
Or they’re doing it to annoy you. I’ve been annoying people with it for as many of my 494 months as possible.