Posted in Blog, Life as a mom, Mother, Shawna

How long is babyhood?

People say all kinds of things when they see your baby. Usually, they remark on how cute they are. I get a lot of “What a happy baby!” and “Look at her go!” comments these days.

But the funniest times are when people try to guess at your baby’s age. These people are almost always parents, and often grandparents, themselves. And it’s amazing how far off they are.

The other day, walking through the ferry with Quinn, I had someone stop and ask if she was around six months old. She was WALKING and babbling and holding on to a toy at the time. She was almost 13 months old.

Ummm, no– but thanks for thinking I birthed a baby genius! You have a nice day, ma’am.

She wasn’t completely crazy, though. Babyhood lasts a lot longer than I expected, and obviously a lot longer than most people remember.

I remember back when I was pregnant and working full time and planning how much maternity leave I would take. I figured four months would be perfect. My logic was that babies are really small and helpless and don’t sleep that well for the first three months, so that would give me three exhausted months of caring for a little helpless, baby, and then one month to catch up on sleep and housework while I enjoyed playing with my much older baby.

I realize now that at 13 months Quinn still isn’t where I expected her to be at four. And that is not an insult to you, my marvelous little one. It’s your nutty mama, and maybe also our wacky society where newborns in movies are two months old (and women in labor only look five months pregnant, may I mention!!) and our laws ask employers to give women only 12 unpaid weeks off to care for their babies.

So, for those of you staring in to the eyes of your tiny little newborns and hearing all those comments all around you that babyhood goes so fast, let me just edge your reality an eensy bit in the other direction. (Remember though that all babies are different!!)

At 13 months, Quinn weighs a little over 20 pounds and is 28 1/2 inches tall. She is apparently pretty true to size, because she wears the 12-18 month size, but I know she’s a bit of a peanut next to a lot of the babies we know (Umm, if 80 percent of babies are 95th percentile, maybe it’s time to adjust the charts?). She has eight teeth and about two inches of hair.

She just slept “through the night” for the first time a few weeks ago. Oh, and “through the night” is six hours, not eight or 10. That means she still usually wakes up once or twice during a 10-hour night, usually nursing once.

She still naps twice a day, and nurses about six times a day. She can walk three or four steps at a time, but usually prefers to crawl. She still needs LOTS of mama time, and sometimes I still have to put her in the Beco and walk her around a bit to get her to calm down.

She can sip out of a cup (when I hold it) and use a spoon (well, maybe hold a spoon is more accurate, as she is probably 40 percent accurate in making food to her mouth), but she is covered in food after most meals and I have to force myself to just not look under her seat at restaurants (and leave a 25 percent tip).

She still babbles away. She says mama, dada, doggie, water and all done, but not all that often.

In other words, amazing and delicious as she is, she is still very much a baby. And it looks like she’ll be this way for quite some time. I think that’s good news. I love holding her and kissing her little belly, love reading with her and hearing her little exclamations, and love watching her cute little butt as she crawls.

It DOES go too fast, but it still takes like two years. And that is good news, I think.

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  1. Yeah, it bugs me how people are always saying that babyhood only lasts 1 year. I had someone tell me that my charge was no longer an baby after 9-months! I actually like to think of babyhood as lasting 7 years – or, till the ‘age of reason’, as it was called in Shakespeare’s time. But, I think of those 7 years in 3 unique phases, each growing a little closer to the independence we think of in childhood (school, soccer games, no more pitter patter in the middle of the night). People are always flummoxed – sometimes downright outraged – to hear me call a 4 y/o a baby – but they are. In so many ways. We push our children to grow up so quickly these days, and they lose the one time in their life where it’s okay to be afraid of the dark or to nurse with their mama…why are we taking that away from them?

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