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I Lie About My Child’s Age

He's so advanced for thirteen months . . .

By Alisha McKinney |

Seven minutes. That’s how long it takes Playground Mommy to make her move.

“He’s so cute,” she says, touching my son’s curls. “Still not walking?” His chubby fingers clutch mine as he inches towards the swings, wobbly as a newborn foal.

“Oh, you know. He’s getting there,” I say, as if everyone walks around with a twenty-five-pound toddler death-gripping their thumbs. As if on cue, Owen drops to his hands and knees and speeds off, slap-slap-slapping across the filthy playground flooring.

“He’s a big boy,” Playground Mommy says. “How old?”

“Thirteen months.”

“Thirteen months?!” she says, eyes wide. “He’s huge!”

That’s true . . . except for the “thirteen months” part. My son is actually seventeen months old, but you’ll never hear it from me, at least not at the playground.

Yes, I know it’s nuts. As a reasonably intelligent, Birkenstock wearing, “Every child develops differently” type of gal, I always assumed I’d be Captain Awesome when it came to raising my own kid. I pictured myself surrounded by a crew of happy, tow-headed tots, each secure in the knowledge that they were special Just The Way They Are. But all that flew out the window when faced with a gaggle of playground parents whose ten-month-olds were running laps around my older son.

I’d round down his age down to the nearest month, shaving off a few precious developmental weeks. “Oh,” the parents would sigh, relief flooding their faces. “That makes more sense.”At first I didn’t think too much of it. The babe had always been a little slow with the physical stuff, but I figured it was genetic. His dad and I veer toward the “readerly” side of the athletic spectrum, so it made sense that he’d rather thumb through Goodnight Moon than run a 5K. But then it started. The looks. The tsks. The well-meaning advice from people whose charges were walking – running! – at twelve or nine or even seven months.

Within weeks I’d heard it all: Buy him sturdier shoes. Buy him comfortable shoes. Make him walk everywhere. (He’s only crawling because you’re not putting your foot down.) Don’t let him watch television. Tempt him with treats. One ancient grandmother-type recommended that I tie a scarf under his armpits and march him around the playground like a puppet.

I’ve found myself considering it.

Still, my gut tells me he’s fine. I’ve done the reading; I know that boys tend to be slower with language and that taller children take longer to walk. At seventeen months – and thirty-six-inches tall – he’s as big as most three-year-olds, so it makes sense that his toddler brain would have trouble coordinating his preschool-sized parts. But just to be safe we went ahead and had him evaluated to make sure we weren’t missing any red flags. The physical therapist, a small woman with a reassuring smile, said that Owen was a little behind the curve, but physically and cognitively he was fine. Better than fine, even. Smart! Social! Wonderful in all the ways that warm a neurotic parent’s heart! The best thing I could do for Owen, she said, would be to put down the parenting magazines and let him develop on his own schedule. After all, nobody goes to college not knowing how to walk. I know she’s right, yet all it takes is one raised eyebrow on the playground to send me spiraling.

It started small, as most lies do. I’d round down his age down to the nearest month, shaving off a few precious developmental weeks. “Oh,” the parents would sigh, relief flooding their faces. “That makes more sense.” Gone were the furrowed brows and awkward talk of early intervention. Suddenly we could gab about normal things like nap schedules and vegetable aversion. I was happy. They were happy. And my son didn’t understand what I was saying so, hey, happy.

Of course I still have qualms. It doesn’t take an episode of Toddlers and Tiaras to know that it’s a slippery slope between fudging a few facts and turning into a full-fledged Freakmother. But some days saving face feels like the only way to keep my sanity. I know I’ll have to stop when he’s able to understand me, and that’s fine.Until then, telling a white lie every now and then to avoid an hour-long lecture on footwear seems small in the scheme of things. The less time I have to take to defend his (okay, our) honor, the more time we have for important things like playing chase. Even if it’s on all fours.

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About Alisha McKinney

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Alisha McKinney

Alisha McKinney is an actress and freelance writer whose work has appeared in Self, Dramatics, and the Topeka Capital-Journal. She also rants daily (okay, weekly) on her blog, flabbypants.blogspot.com. She lives in New York City with her husband, novelist Matthew Cody, and their giant toddler.

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66 thoughts on “I Lie About My Child’s Age

  1. Sasha says:

    Thanks for this piece!  I have been experiencing the same thing with my 14-month-old (almost 15) and it drives me crazy.  The pitying looks, the “he’ll be ok”‘s, the suggestions that we take him to Early Intervention more.  There is NOTHING wrong with my baby.  His sister was a slow walker, too!  Plus he is tall and he has a giant head.  I don’t outwardly lie about his age, but I do fudge it by a month when I know he is closer to the other end.
    The whole milestone thing just creeps me out.  Kids do stuff when they are ready.  Period. 

  2. ds says:

    you are so right!! my boy only started crawling at 12 mon. Until then I had to listen to all sorts of advice about how he doesn’t have enough tummy time etc. Then when he walked at 15 mon, those people would be all surprised, But it’s completely within the frame!!!As if they were already sure he would be slow forever..

  3. NC Mom says:

    Ok…please top lying about your son’s age. What if your son does turn out to have a real problem? Will you just continue to lie?My son is 18 months, he doesn’t talk. I get tons of insane advice. When people ask me if he’s talking, I happily say “no he doesn’t talk yet” and leave it at that. If they really want to know, I tell them all about his speech therapy…but usually they find that odd as well. I just keep in mind that these people mean well and I am not ashamed of my son.Rather than putting expectations on your son and being embarrassed of him, why don’t you embrace who he is and maybe he’ll walk on his own one day or maybe you’ll actually have to do something to help him walk and there is nothing wrong with either option.

  4. mamatotwobeautifulgirls says:

    it’s all good. seriously, i wish people would just keep their mouths shut!
    i honestly think if complete strangers feel the need to get into your private matters, a white lie is a perfectly acceptable way for everyone to just keep the peace.
    on the walking thing… i was a nanny before i became a mother. the boy i took care of had european parents, father well over six feet tall, mother just about six feet tall.
    when i met him he was six weeks old and he looked like he was at least four months old.
    he was always in the 95th percentile for height (american counting, only 50-something in germany) and he had a huge head.
    needless to say he was the very last of the neighborhood kids in his age group to walk. and he didn’t talk much either because he was raised trilingual. plus he always looked at least a few months older than he really was.
    thankfully people generally left us alone about it, probably mostly because we all had a confident attitude.
    half a year later than all the other boys he had learned to walk and started talking, too. it took him a little longer to get started because he had the disadvantage of having to balance a beautiful big head on a tall thin body and figure out how to sort through three languages. but once he took the first steps and said the first words he quickly caught up with the rest.
    i’m sure he’ll be a talented athlete and very good with words one day just like both of his parents.
    my youngest daughter is eight-months-old now and just on the verge of walking on her own. i’m kinda glad playground season is mostly over because i’d hate having to explain to everyone that THIS too is normal and that they shouldn’t expect their kids to compare to her in any way.
    this is all to say, i think you’re doing the right thing in finding ways to guard yourself and your child from negative vibes and letting him figure things out in his own time and fashion. i’m sure you’ll be rewarded for this. :)

  5. Black Sheep says:

    It drives me nuts that people think that a kid must be walking by 12 months! The average age for walking is 15 months! And the normal range is 9-18 months! Your kid isn’t even late yet. My boys were preemies, and they walked at 16 and 17 months (14 and 15 “adjusted age”) and they are doing great.

  6. Stop lying says:

    My kids didn’t walk until 17 and 18 months. As you can tell, I’m quick to tell everyone this fact because it actually helps other parents to hear that there’s a wide range of normal.

  7. phillymama says:

    I can relate because my kids were slower to walk than their peers, also. But I’m concerned about the idea that your child doesn’t understand the lies you’re telling. What you are doing is misrepresenting him. You are attempting to cover up your own insecurity by stripping away months of your child’s life. He has lived 17 months! He should be getting credit for all he has done in that time.
    Instead, I think you should focus on how to respond to the comments you don’t like. Walking away is one idea. Or saying, “I’m not concerned, so you shouldn’t be either” or “I love my child and am happy to wait with him as long as it takes.” These sorts of comments send the message to your child–who surely understands more than you’re giving him credit for–that you love him for who he is and not merely for what he is in comparison to other kids.

  8. EngMama says:

    I do the opposite actually. My daughter is very advanced verbally and other parents get really anxious when they find out that this child with whom I just had a full blown rational argument is the same age as theirs who can’t really speak.  So I round up, by a few months.  Like at 25 months she was, almost two and a half.   My son wasn’t really talking much at her age, and I know it’s just who they are, not anything I am doing right or wrong.  But these poor parents at the playground, with their first babies get SO WORRIED.  So really, they don’t need to know.

  9. JCF says:

    My son didn’t walk until 17 months.  Actually, he did walk once, and quite well, at 14 months, and then just refused to do it again for 3 more months.  My husband and I weren’t worried because we knew he was fully capable, he just wasn’t doing it for some reason!  I hated the stupid remarks people would give us. 
    I have a friend (no kids of her own, but she’s a speech therapist for toddlers) who came to visit when he was about 14 months and asked “So he’s walking all over the place now, huh?” and when I said no, she laughed, then after a pause, said “Wait.  You’re serious?  Oh my gosh.  Is he pulling up?  Can he put weight on his legs?  Can he cruise along furniture?  Have you had him checked out?”  When I answered yes to all of that (except for having him checked out, other than normal well-baby visits), she sighed with relief and said “Well, he’s probably going to be okay, then.” 
    Seriously?  I realize she sees kids with developmental problems all the time and is programmed to look for problems, but she should know that 14 months is totally normal not to be walking!  And I would hope that she would have realized I’m educated enough and invested enough in my child to know what normal walking/standing/cruising age is!  I totally don’t blame you for lying about his age on the playground.  You don’t need to waste time having a stupid conversation about it with someone you don’t even know!

  10. Beth in Boston says:

    My 14-month old can’t even pull up. She can barely bear her own weight. However, I don’t worry because I know that my husband was the same way, and he became a track athlete. I have almost lied about her age a few times. I know the temptation. My daughter looks to be only about 10 or 11 months anyway, since she’s on the short and squat side. But nobody has said anything outright rude. They usually just keep quiet for the most part.
    It’s funny, because like EngMama, my older daughter was a very early talker and I felt the same way — sometimes I would downplay her verbal skills or shave a month off her age so others wouldn’t feel bad. It’s all so silly.

  11. aupanner says:

    You’re pathetic. Your inability to be “uncomfortable” because your son isn’t walking yet is all about you. The advice you need to heed is to conduct some real soul searching and figure out what you’re all about. Forget about the implications of passing on your non-athletic genes and do your best to avoid passing on your insecurities and self conciousness. You’re a great writer. Obviously intelligent. Obviously loving and diligent and all that. Focus on those things and forget about walking and forget about how his physical development makes you look. Forget about how any of his development (physical or mental) reflects on you. Worry about his personal character development. That does reflect on you. Worry about him being an insecure kid with no confidence. If that happens it is on YOU. So other people are idiots and give you judgmental looks. GET OVER IT.

  12. KnittyMN says:

    Lovely, aupanner, just lovely.
    I also used to lie about my daughter’s age.  She didn’t walk until she was almost 18 months old and still hadn’t uttered her first word at 20 months.  I couldn’t bear the looks of concern other mothers would give me when I told them she was nearly two and still non-verbal.  Even after we knew why (autism) I still occasionally fibbed about her age because explaining the whole situation reduced me to agonized tears.
    Now that I’ve accepted the situation and my daughter is making progress in therapy, I’ve stopped lying and learned to explain things very simply: she won’t answer your questions because she can’t.  She can’t because she’s autistic.  No, we don’t know what that means for her future but for now, it means I do her talking for her.  If she *could* talk, I know she’d want me to be honest.

  13. More Anon says:

    I think it’s fine to tell small fibs to all the playground busybodies who want to tell you how to raise your kid, when (a) they’ve just met you and know absolutely nothing about you or your child, and (b) they are certainly not doctors or child development specialists! You should always tell yourself the truth — always face up to things inside — but with other people, especially busybodies? Eh. Use your best judgment and don’t worry about it.

  14. GP says:

    Don’t worry what other people think about you. You’re a mom now, you need to be strong. Milestones matter, to some extent, to help flag issues if your kid needs help, but it sounds like you are smart enough to know what’s up. So don’t lie. Not that it matters.

  15. peopleareannoying says:

    I totally hear you. I know how frustrating it is when everyone has to weigh in with their own two freakin’ cents. I get that a lot with simple things…and it’s never solicited advice, is it?!! I’d totally rather give a white lie, too, just to have some peace and enjoy the playground. Just remember, most people have good intentions and are only trying to help. That’s what I tell myself, anyway! Like an earlier commenter implied; if you act confident and sure of things, then people will get the message and not press the issue. If you act slightly worried or defensive, then they will chime in with advice. You are obviously doing great, so I say do what you need to and get through the day happily!

  16. Nancy Cavillones says:

    I completely and totally run away from conversations about development when it starts to veer towards comparing “your kid to my kid.” It drives me insane. I would stop lying about his age and just change the subject. People just need to shut up about your kid–it’s really no one’s business unless you’ve made it their business.

  17. kpolly says:

    I’m glad to see the majority of people here responding like normal, rational folks. We all have, at least, mild insecurities about stuff. You know everything is going smoothly, but weird social episodes like Mommy Parks can be awkward or whatever. NO ONE is hurt by the white lies about your kid’s age. Those who would use outlandish words like “pathetic” or insinuate that you are affecting your kid’s future self-image because of words he doesn’t understand, is over-the-top and foolish. I’d go so far as to say “double foolish”. Perhaps, “Triple stupid”, but then again, I’ve been drinking.Lie on! You’re doing great. At least your not teaching him to overreact to blogs. Job well done!

  18. mamaj says:

    This is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever read on this site. Seriously? You’re so freaking insecure that you feel like random people are going to judge you on the basis of what developmental milestones your child has reached? And you care what these total strangers think anyway? Seriously, quit projecting your issues onto your son, and get real.

  19. awomanaftermyownheart says:

    Yay! Thank you for saying what I feel! I never lied about her age (mainly because it didn’t occur to me…) but not a bad idea. My daughter is 15 mos and just started walking. And she’s also very small – people always think she’s like 9 months old….. I’m like you – very much like “she’ll develop in her own time”. Then when that time is months and months longer than everyone else it becomes so upsetting and nerve-wracking. You keep telling yourself to mellow out and you succeed till that next trip to the playground and *blammo* you’re back to biting your nails after some “well-meaning” comment………….
    Mamaj – sounds like you’re the one projecting. Why such a vehement response? Do you propose to be the perfect parent? I think we as mothers need to support each other in the issues we have as parents and find some sort of community rather than tearing each other down. This may be the Internet but you’re still attacking a specific person who has shared some vulnerable feelings. Let’s have a little compassion.

  20. momstrosity says:

    Mom to a 16-month-old non-walker here. We were at the pediatrician this week and she said this:
    “Walking is one of the most meaningless developemental milestones there is.”
    That’s word for word, folks. But this one b*tchy playground mom persists in asking me if my son is walking yet, her forehead wrinkled with what looks to be genuine concern and shock when I tell her it’s not keeping me up at night. She keeps hinting that I should get him checked out. She did this when he was the last kid his age to roll over and later to crawl. Very annoying.
    I recently met a mom on the playground who has put her kid in some kind of early intervention program because he’s not crawling at nine months. My kid didn’t crawl an inch until 13 months.
    People have lost their minds when it comes to this stuff. I hope it stops after the toddler years, but I fear these moms will be comparing their kids’ test scores, junior high social status, college acceptance rates, and later, their Major Life Choices with the same high-octane concern. This is what happens when moms choose to focus all their energy on their kids instead of diverting some of it for work or self-discovery. Scary stuff.

  21. Shan says:

    I walked late and I walk fine now, honest. :)
    That said though… I have tons of sympathy for you and have lied now and then myself for similar reasons. But remember that your child is learning all the time about the world, from you. You probably don’t want the message to be “when you’re uncomfortable about something about yourself, for god’s sake lie so you look more like the other kids.”
    I doubt he’s that aware right now and wouldn’t know what 17 vs 13 was anything, but it might be a good time for you to build up your tolerance for looking different, and stop lying.

  22. Voice of Reason says:

    MY HUSBAND DIDN’T WALK UNTIL HE WAS 22 MONTHS OLD.
    There, I said it. I still married him and, worse, had children with him. What does that say about me? (Low achiever!)
    Both of our children walked at 16 months and, let me tell you, I’m pretty glad I wasn’t hanging out at your local playground! There is something seriously wrong with that kind of competitive parenting.
    I tend to see both sides of the argument, agreeing both with the commenters who state that there’s nothing wrong with a white lie and those who say it’s got the potential to do harm (i.e. that it will lead to more lies the next time he doesn’t measure up to some mean-sprited momster’s ideas of what’s ‘normal’ and, further, when he’s older he’ll have some understanding that you are somewhat embarrassed by whatever ‘inadequacy’ he may or may not be exhibiting).
    ABOVE ALL, you are missing out on some nice little comedy opportunities, which will both shut these idiots up and give yourself some comic relief. (Am I the only one seeing this?) Try some of these the next time some nosy playground development ‘expert’ starts spouting off:
    ‘He’s genetically inferior… on his father’s side.’
    ‘That’s the last time I buy a baby on the black market.’
    ‘Yes, but you should see him tango.’
    ‘Well, no, he can’t walk… but he’s too busy working on his PhD dissertation. It’s about anti-social behaviours exhibited by mothers at the playground.’
    ‘I WAS on my way to the pediatrician to ensure that everything is fine, but then I saw you here and thought I’d stop to ask for your opinion.’
    I would probably add that these are often the kind of anxieties that disappear when a second child appears on the scene.
    Good luck!

  23. berkshiresmom says:

    Please don’t let all the ‘late walker’ talk worry you. If you pediatrician isn’t worried, you shouldn’t be worried either. My son didn’t walk until around 18 months, and there was absolutely nothing wrong with him. He’d just figured it out: he could scoot around at top speed on all fours. Why get up on 2 legs and wobble when you can be more efficient on four? I remained nervous about the fact that he wasn’t walking… until a friend, who is a physical therapist trained to work with kids, did the following test on him: she set up a game with 2 chairs next to each other. On one chair was a bowl full of brightly colored toys; on the other chair, an empty metal bowl. She got him playing a game where he’d take a toy out of the full bowl and put it into the bowl on the other chair. Then gradually, as he played, she’d move the chairs farther and farther apart, until he had to take a step between chairs. It was obvious that he could do it. It was also obvious that he was clever enough to game the system and he didn’t feel like working harder than he had to: it took him about 30 seconds to figure out there was a better way to do this. He took the entire full bowl, stepped over and dumped it into the other bowl, and he was done. Then he got down on all fours and crawled off.After that, I stopped worrying. He was walking within weeks, anyway. He just took his time.

  24. hmominca says:

    Nice article, but don’t be frazzled. Easier said than done! My son has hypotonia and is delayed in gross motor skills. He is receiving therapy via the state’s early intervention program and will probably walk late. (Hoping by 18 months)
    This article and comments have convinced me that so many moms worry about milestones. I guess I should brace myself for all these comments in future.

  25. mykidwontweardiapersincollege says:

    Thanks for the laugh, Voice of Reason. Especially the one about the dissertation – too funny.
    As for the article itself, I also see both sides of the situation. I don’t mind a little chit-chat about milestones when they are made in a good-spirited, light-hearted, and conversational way (and of course this depends upon how well I know the other person), but when it becomes some sort of contest, no thanks. I really don’t wish to get involved.
    My first child was a textbook baby and hit all his milestones right on time. I don’t remember comparing notes with anyone about this because aside from my son’s immediate family, who *really* cares when he walks or says his first word?
    My second child was a late crawler, a late walker, and a late talker. I had to endure annoying comments from one mother in our weekly play group: every single week, she would make the same sort of comment about why my child couldn’t do xyz, which was then followed by a comment about how HER daughter was doing xyz at the age of ___. Even though I was not a first-time mother, it didn’t make it easier to endure her comments. I actually dreaded going to this play group because of this woman.
    To all the parents of “late” walkers and talkers: you are the parent, you know your child the best, and when in doubt, talk to your pediatrician if you’re unsure. To everyone else who offers advice, smile sweetly and use one of the snappy comebacks offered by Voice of Reason. (

  26. let it be says:

    My now 5 year old son did not walk until well into month 17, so I know all those looks and comments and the feelings. Last night at soccer, I was observing him in the group and have to say (with absolutely no bias!!), he is one of the most coordinated and solid kids in the group. The coach was getting them to jump over the ball by splitting their legs around it – my boy did a standing jump right over the ball 6 times in a row. One of these days, you will look back on this and laugh. For me, the big question is, why do you have to do or say anything to please or placate other people? I am an older mom (was 42 and 44 when I had my children) so maybe I am at that point in my life when I realize that other people are always going to have opinions, etc, but it’s no consequence to me. I know what is best for my children, period. Smile, and say thank you, and carry on with your life. And one day you will realize what a complete ninny you were for letting everyone’s opinions and ideas colour your own view of your unique child.

  27. KnittyMN says:

    “I recently met a mom on the playground who has put her kid in some kind
    of early intervention program because he’s not crawling at nine months.”
    There’s probably more going on than you’re aware of because parents don’t just “put” their toddlers in Early Intervention; the program requires that your child be assessed by a team of educators/specialists and then score in the bottom 2 percent of their age group.  Trust me, if that mom’s child is in Early Intervention, he’s there for good reason.

  28. rstgoyam says:

    Why is so important what other people think? My son was the same height at 18 months, he has always been a big boy and started walking at 10 months old. I make sure I read about milestones and if I have a concern I talk to his pediatrician. Other than that, I do not really care what people think or think they know. Every child is different and not embracing who he or she really is now I think will cause problems in the future. For example, when the child is brilliant but suffers from dislexia, the parents anxiety will be passed on to them and make their lives harder. Lets take each child as the unique human being they each are and stop comparing them to siblings and other kids.

  29. alibonkers says:

    Thanks, guys, for the support and commiseration.  It’s amazing how much it helps to hear, “Been there.”  Even the critical comments have been insightful.  (Although when a post starts with the words “You’re pathetic”, you know it’s time to buckle your seat belt. I think that particular one has been removed so maybe the author decided to cut me some slack…)
    Anyway, I appreciate the reassurance and advice.  It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who occasionally gets derailed by playground b.s.

  30. alibonkers says:

    Er. that last one was from me.  The author.  Ahem.

  31. Alicia Rogers says:

    Alisha, thanks for this. My son is 3 and has some speech delays on top of being the last in his preschool class and among his friends to not be potty trained. While I’ve never had a negative comment from his teachers or our friends, I still a little embarrassed when we meet new moms and kids because I still feel some guilt over his speech, like I failed him somehow. Rationally I know that my guilt is unnecessary because he’s a very smart, social kid who’s more athletic and mechanical than concerned about talking. He’s been checked backwards and forwards, and aside from being far-sighted from astigmatism (something he’s had since birth and what we think is the main culprit behind his speech delay) and having an upper jaw that’s a bit too narrow, he’s fine! Hearing is perfect, sight is perfect (with glasses), everything is perfect! Yet I continue to have my moments.
    So, again, thanks. I love reading articles like this where I find I’m not alone in the embarrassment and the strain of strangers not understanding. Luckily no one’s said something snide to me about it (which is good for them), but I still mentally prepare myself.
    And anyone who says anything negative about your little guy need to shut it. Thirty six inches tall! Whoa! He is a tall boy! My son is thirty nine inches at 3! It’s really no surprise that walking isn’t happening yet since it sounds like your boy is experiencing what pubescent kids go through when they reach that very clumsy, lanky stage, when their body shoots up but their spatial awareness isn’t matched up yet. No doubt when your son’s spatial awareness catches up in his brain, he’ll be off like a rocket!
    (And honestly, between you and me, enjoy the crawling stage as long as you can – it’s that much more exhausting once they get the hang of running! LOL!) 

  32. Weary says:

    As I read this, I couldn’t help wondering how you would handle it if you did have a child with special needs. No, not everyone goes to college walking. My daughter couldn’t even stand on her feet–STAND–until she was over two years old. She used one of those little metal walkers. If someone on the playground said “Oh, she’s not walking?” I doubt I’d get away with “Sure, she can walk–that metal thing she’s clinging to is just the latest rage in toddler toys. Cool, isn’t it?”Why set a precedent for lies and shame? Those playground busybodies will never learn to adjust their views if you don’t introduce them to things outside their little world. But not, it isn’t easy. It’s difficult to always be in the mood to “educate” others when you leave the house. Playgrounds–they’re not fun for me anymore. The other parents may think nothing of asking you about your child’s challenges because for them, it’s just one casual five-minute conversation. “I hope you don’t mind my asking this, but . . .” For you, it’s a conversation you have repeatedly every time you go out. Parents, how about sticking to compliments or discussing local schools or the weather?

  33. Alicia Rogers says:

    Oh, and I wanted to add that my son has a huge head too, so while he started rolling the day he turned five months (I kid you not: We woke up that morning, I put him on the floor to go do something, and next thing I now he’s rolling circles around the living room! The crazy kid!), and he did a type of Army crawl at six months, he didn’t do a ‘normal’ crawl until 9 months, and didn’t walk until almost 14 months (and even then it was only to show off to a friend of ours, the goober).
    Meanwhile several of his friends had started walking about 9/10 months, but I really didn’t worry about it. They didn’t have huge noggins like my son, and had different strengths and weaknesses from my son. While they were walking, and then talking, he was figuring out how to undo his carseat buckles, work our lap top, and play with our game consoles. (At 3 he can log himself into his profile on our lap top and find his web page with no problem. He’ll turn off other random lap tops and computers if given the chance.)
    So, yeah, every kid is different with different interests and advances. Sorry, rambling. The other posts just reminded me of how my son has been ‘different’ from the other kids. Now I have to go spot him while he climbs over the half wall that divides our living room and dining room. The goober.

  34. jojo44 says:

    I too wonder about kids with special needs.  People are so focused on fixing anything they see as out of the norm.  Maybe we should all go back to old-time manners when it was impolite to make personal comments and suggestions to others.  Think of how very rarely it is that they are actually helpful in some way.
    Not every mom who asks the age of your kid is a nosy and mean person, though.  This is a common question.  In a way, it’s just a conversation opener.  What else do we talk about?  I get asked this question all the time and my kid has been walking for a long time. 
    On that note, don’t think it’s a party for parents of early walkers.  My kid walked comfortably at nine months.  Honestly, it sucked.  It really, really sucked.  I can only imagine how much easier my life would have been if she had not walked for say another three (or eight months). 

  35. Weary says:

    Thanks, Jojo. I hope I didn’t sound too bitter. Definitely people ask about ages for lack of anything better to say. I know I do that, as well. I don’t think anyone who asks me point blank about my daughter intends to be hurtful at all. In fact, I’m often more than happy to share what info I have about her condition. But I do wonder sometimes when we decided that personal remarks and blunt questions to strangers were okay. You wouldn’t think people would just flat-out ask “What’s wrong with her?” but they do. Out of ten people, two won’t care, five will know better than to just ask, and three will be curious and just say it. They’ll also allow their kids to stand there questioning me, which I find kind of unsettling. I understand that kids are curious and it’s part of their job to learn about the world and all that–but isn’t it the parent’s job to step in and help their child understand–out of earshot of my child? I’d love it if the parents would be a little more active in steering the conversation toward something else, instead of standing there (sometimes smiling proudly) while their curious kid gets to ask me all about it. I think they’re proud of having such a bright child, but manners are nice, too.Ali, do what feels comfortable, of course, but maybe you could see how it feels to answer honestly–”He’s seventeen months. He’s just a big boy and kind of a late walker. Hey, great stroller!” and squash the Competitive Parent talk.

  36. Kayas Mama says:

    Eek. I do the same thing. My 9 month old weighs only 11 pounds. She was born 5 lbs. 11 ozs. and by 2 weeks old she was down to 4 lbs. 14 ozs. Everywhere we went, whenever anyone asked how old she was, if I answered honestly I got gasps of shock and pitying questions “Was she a preemie?” and my favorite- “Do the doctors think she will be ‘little’ all her life?”. I figure that one is a diplomatic attempt at asking if she is a medical midget. Her pediatrician reassures us that though she is in the 2nd percentile for her age, she is perfectly healthy. I nurse her every 4 hours, supplement with formula in between breastfeedings and she eats at least 8 ozs. of solids a day. Her appetite is great and she has reached all of her developmental milestones on time. She’s just a 9 month old who still wears the nightgown we brought her home from the hospital in. Or, if you are a nosy Mommy at the playground- my precious 5 month old.

  37. alibonkers says:

    Sometimes when I find myself getting super-squirreled on the playground I ask myself, “What would Ma Ingalls do?”  Because I guarantee she wasn’t worried that Laura wasn’t as tall or small or loud or active as Mary.  (Cue obsession with Little House books.)  I try to remember that it’s a luxury to be able to worry about this stuff.  (Parents of children with developmental delays are nodding in agreement.)  It doesn’t always work but sometimes it can calm my inner Freakmother.  Sometimes.  Occasionally.  
    Oh, and late talker parents?  Mine’s a late talker too.  With ya. 

  38. Jim H says:

    This isn’t a harmless sham. You’re contributing to the zeitgeist of parental neurosis from which this City suffers. And you’re cutting yourself off from making the potential connection with another parent who might also have a little one who, in some areas, is a little bit behind.

  39. WynterMama says:

    This article made me chuckle. My daughter didn’t start walking until she turned 16 months old, and despite knowing she was perfectly fine I found myself in the similar excuse-giving position of the author a few times. I have no idea why. In fact, it was a blessing my kid didn’t start crawling until 12 months and walking later than her peers. Chasing around a toddler is freaking exhausting! Since when did walking at 9 months become the “norm” anyway?

  40. gunnie mom says:

    My son was almost 17 months when he finally decided to walk!! At 19 months he’s running, you would never guess that he was still crawling a few months ago. Even though it took him time to walk, he made up for it other ways. He’s a talker. When I carried him up the stairs I would count the stairs and at 14 months he was counting to 17. I just think that he wanted to take it slow and enjoy just hanging. He has the rest of his life to walk!!!!

  41. earlychildhoodeducator says:

    I used to run a preschool a handful of years back, and I heard from a remedial physical therapist that early walkers end up the potential for weak backs and what is called “tongue thrust”. It is best to allow one’s child to crawl for as long as possible to develop those strong backs and hips, and to allow for the sucking position of the tongue to be moved back into correct position while crawling. Those developmental stages are there for a reason, and I wish parents wouldn’t worry that one’s child is not going through stages faster. I take it to mean that a child is thoroughly going through the stages and may be better off in the long run with having developed a strong physical foundation for their future. So, relax people and feel good that your child may be avoiding future physical issues that will need a physical therapist to help remediate later on…all those early walkers may be the one’s who could suffer from some issues in the long run. Just my two cents from interactions with physical therapists!

  42. earlychildhoodeducator says:

    Oops, sorry for some of sloppy writing! It is late. It should read “early walkers end up with the potential….”Also, “all those early walkers may be the ones…”Just to add, that babies are born to suck, and develop “tongue thrust”, in which the child’s tongue sticks out and may impede proper speech, so it is important for children to go through the crawling stage, where the child’s head is stretched forward in crawling position, thereby helping the child’s tongue fall back into proper position to allow for clear sounding speech. All the things parents take for granted, without understanding the hidden purpose in what is taking place. Understanding physical development can help allay many a worried parent’s fears! So many don’t understand that rushing, competing, and comparing is just causing harm. Let nature take its course. Have a good night all!

  43. ArmyWife says:

    My son didn’t walk til he was almost 14 months… I guess because I had such a supportive family and extended family (growing up in a small town) nobody thought it odd that he didn’t walk earlier. My mother said it best, I think. “It’s the smart ones who walk last.” And only the Smart ones will get that.

  44. Trisha says:

    ‘I WAS on my way to the pediatrician to ensure that everything is fine, but then I saw you here and thought I’d stop to ask for your opinion.’
    LOL! This has got to be the BEST comment I have read on how to deal with these mothers!
    My eldest son walked at 15 months, my second son at 21 months and my third son at 19 months. My friend’s kids were all walking at a year. Maybe I was just lucky, but no-one suggested to me that the kids were slow or had anything ‘wrong” with them – they all got around super speedily when they wanted something – just not standing up. My eldest son was super slow (in hindsight) to sit up unnaided as well, but would roll across the floor real quick when something caught his interest – I didn’t know enough to worry and my friends didn’t worry either, so all was fine. However, my daughter was running at 12 months really well – I didn’t do anything differently with any of the children. The eldest two are now in college, the third in high school and my daughter is still in grade school. The boys were all great athletes (one still does compete in major competitions), they are all very bright and all very sociable.
    If I were you I would find a new group of mothers. This type of intense competition benefits no-one and least of all you. If you are leaving your playgroup each time feeling worse than when you arrived – what is the point in that? Plus, these overly competitive mothers get worse – wait until it’s reading, writing, maths etc. Then THEY start to lie about GPA etc (I can’t tell you how many “straight “A” students were in my children’s classes LOL). Find yourself a group of women who have more important things in their lives than focusing on what YOUR child is doing, people who are happy and secure in their lives, not insecure, sniping people who are putting you down (all that unwanted advice is actually putting you down in a backhanded way). If you stay with people like this at this age, they will make your life miserable all the way through grade school and high school. Instead search out people who have full and happy lives, who are secure in themselves and their children and don’t need to make themselves feel better by making you feel worse. Believe me, if you don’t get out now, you will really regret it when your child goes to school. If they were real friends they would take the trouble to try and make you feel good about yourself, if you are constantly feeling demoralised after time spent with them you are doing yourself and your son a great disservice.

  45. Walker says:

    Women in Guatemala often tie a scarf under a child’s arms to prop them up (puppet-style) to help them develop the muscles and coordination to walk. I tried this on my cousin’s child who was extremely slow to develop and she was walking within a week. Of course, once the walking started my cousin cursed me for creating her mobile little monster (all in jest!).

  46. Tim987123 says:

    I hate when people compare children for things. Ours is toilet training. Part of it is due to the fact that I would like my children to be toilet trained as opposed to training myself to freak out every half hour for two years to make sure I take my child and sit them on the toilet. I know many children are ready at early ages but my children just didn’t and I refused to push it on them and prefered instead to wait until they were ready. Most of their cousins were already doing it, though some couldn’t be allowed to fall asleep on car rides or they would have accidents. So people would say to each other behind our backs…poor them that their child can’t…etc. We just dealt with it but the comments are so annoying….

  47. scott says:

    When i first read this piece i sort of took it as toung in cheek , was i ever wrong. I can see by all the comments that this is serious business. It’s amazing how sensative we all are. We all believe that we need to fit into a certian mold, or a time frame or the like. What does this do but put unatural and unecessary pressure on the infants and yoursleves.
    Who cares what these well meaning people think. Why do we let ourselves be bullied mentally by anyone. I say smile and enjoy your little ones the way he or she is. Suck up all the love they have to give you and impart as mush love as they can take, within reason lol. God bless their little hearts :)

  48. GuildMom says:

    I like this piece and totally understand, as I have a son who has developmental delays, both physical and cognitive. The only comment I wanted to add is that that ancient grandmother you referred too wasn’t so shabby — the advice she gave about the scarf was the same advice our PhD-carrying, college professor, wonderful Early Intervention physical therapist gave regarding our son’s crawling. Her rationale was that using the scarf or towel or the funny little leash-like thing (intended for walking, but modified for our son’s purposes) she bought at Toys R Us would let his muscles practice the right moves without having to worry about having to support his weight at the same time. That would train them up so that they would be doing the right thing as we gradually let him support more and more of his weight. Son is not yet running around, but he has made dramatic progress working with this therapist!
    Those grandmas know more than we give them credit for sometimes!

  49. TNDad says:

    There are two problems here and neither of them have anything to do with your son. First, why do you even care what the other mom’s are saying. It quite frankly is none of their !@#$ business. Two, the other moms obviously have issues or they wouldn’t be so critical with you and your son. Let the kid have fun crawling. Trust me, I raised two sons through that period mostly by myself as my wife had to travel with work. YOU DO NOT WANT HIM WALKING. If you could stave it off until he goes to pre-school so much the better. As big as he sounds like he is, you will have to child proof everything up to about 5 feet instead of the normal 3 feet or so. Anyway, enjoy your son. I am looking forward to grandkids already!

  50. WhenHeIsReady says:

    My older sister did not walk or even crawl until she was 18 months. Then, she just took off walking. No problems physically or mentally. She just wasn’t ready. Don’t worry. He will walk when he is ready.

  51. That is so WRONG says:

    Wow. I’ve got news for you, if he doesn’t understand what you’re saying then there is a real problem. If he’s normal in every way except the walking, he does indeed understand.Quit worrying about yourself and start worrying about the messages you ARE sending: a) he’s not good enough and b) lying is okay.Glad we don’t play at your playground!

  52. So sad says:

    By lying about your son’s age only tells me one thing – that you are ashamed.  I believe that you are contributing to the problem that we are all the same.  Stand up for your son and learn to be a teacher to those you feel are judging – celebrate our differences – that we are all unique and great in our own way. My third daughter was born with Down Syndrome and is 20 months old and not walking.  She has taught me some very valuable lessons about life.  You don’t have to explain to anyone why your son is not walking yet – you should learn to walk away – your son and being proud of who he is should come first – kids are much more perceptive than you think – he knows on some level your disappointment.  Try to be more positive.

  53. Get Real says:

    To those of you who say that she is ashamed of her son…. Are you for real?? Why can’t the woman just enjoy her time at the park with her son without dealing with the negative remarks? It’s so much easier to shave off a few months from his age then to have to listen to unwanted advice from strangers! Have you ever told a white lie to someone to spare their feelings? What’s the difference then? Uggggg sometimes I just wish people would get off their high horse and give it a rest!

  54. trudy says:

    Um, the fact that she blogs about this stuff, tells me she does want to hear from strangers. If you can’t take the heat, go play in the shade. Honestly, this stuff will never end, it starts with the nosy breastfeeding nazis and doesn’t end with the creepy, competitive college application process. How you handle it, says everything to your kid about how to handle the world and lying ain’t it. We do more through our actions than our words, and as parents we make choices every day that influence our kids. No one is perfect, so being imperfect and open rather than engaging in one -upmanship is the perfect way to really connect with other mothers. Your missing a great opportunity there.

  55. beamer says:

    Charles Schwab, Richard Branson, and countless other CEOs have lived a lie: they hid their dyslexia for years. Then, one day, a 6-year-old girl at take-your-daughter-to-work day broke everything. Charles Schwab asked her, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” She said, “there’s not much I can be, I have dyslexia.”He could have said something reassuring but useless; instead, he put it all on the line (including his career): he said, “well, I have dyslexia, too and look at me!” He outed himself. He chose not to hide. And, in doing so, he probably helped this little girl, and many others, by telling the truth. http://www.dyslexia-adults.com/a49.htmlDon't lie, even if it is easier. It hurts everyone, including your son, who may one day realize you’d preferred to lie about his age than admit who is really is.

  56. mom in ny says:

    All these people talk about Early Intervention as if it’s some sort of sentence–the absolute worst thing that could happen to your child. EI is a program put in place to stop potential problems and help kids. It’s not a permanent stamp on your kid–it’s elective. From the sound of this article, this child was not evaluated by EI, because not walking or talking by 16 months would very likely qualify him for services. It’s not some thing that goes on your child’s permanent record or affects them once they start school. A kid may just need a few months of therapy to correct something, then it’s over.
    My son is talking and walking at 11 1/2 months–he has hit every milestone “on time.” But he had eye surgery and is going through a program of patching, so a smart mom told me to get him evaluated by EI to see if he can qualify for services, namely vision therapy. (We pay enough taxes here in Westchester county–why not if it will help him?)
    The therapists also noticed that he very slightly favors his left side (the side with the stronger eye) and suggested he do some physical therapy as well–probably 6 months or less. I could not be happier that we decided to do IE. It’s great for him–and also gets him used to a learning environment at a super young age.
    If parents could just get over themselves and think about their children’s needs rather than their own egos.

  57. alisha mckinney says:

    Actually, my son was evaluated by EI for physical development at 16 months and services were deemed unnecessary.  (I believe I mentioned this, along with the therapist’s words of advice, in the piece.)  But you’re absolutely right – EI is an amazing service, which is why we took advantage of it.

  58. luckytohavethem says:

    Hi Alisha
    I loved your article bc it really resonated with me. I have two boys who both walked late and were both late bloomers in their own way. One was a 14 month walker and was a very late bloomer verbally and with all motor skills. Ended up in ECI and speech and you name it for years before K even started! His brother walked at 17 months! It was very stressful during the toddler years. For a long time I thought it was my fault that my kids were so slow.
    My older son is now almost 9. I used to have friends whose toddlers were so “advanced” at one and two and it was very hard to be around them hearing them brag all the time. Well the funny thing is…my son who was so behind as a baby and toddler and could not speak clearly till he was 4? Now is a gifted reader and does really well at school…all those terrible motor skills? He now plays violin very well and is gifted musically! …. His brother who never walked till 17 months? He plays soccer and is the youngest kid in 1st grade and has been recommended for the gifted/talented program at elementary school……! So you never know how things are going to turn out. Your child will amaze you by the things he will do…they just might not be the same things other kids do when they do it but he will amaze you never the less! Always believe in yourself and your child!

  59. Maine Mom says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience.  My daughter is almost three and won’t really talk outside of our home.  To the extent that when I was in the hospital, and a friend was helping my husband, she intimated there was something wrong with her.  Our daughter has always done things on her own schedule, and this is no exception.  We did talk to her doctor and she checked out fine, but, we are still in the same boat as you.  Thanks for reminding everyone that kids have their own pace.

  60. SamiJ says:

    Big babies tend to walk later because they have more mass to hold upright and it demands more of their core muscles.
    And because they tend to be such great crawlers (superfast), they are getting plenty of excercise and movement.
    And the impluse to lie about your kid’s development is such a first-time mommy thing, borne of your insecurities about your parenting.
    After you have your second kid, you realize it doesn’t matter. Kids develop on their own timetimes, and you shouldn’t be so apologetic. Anyone who judges your kids is an idiot who doesn’t know any better — it’s not a reflection on you or your kid.

  61. SamiJ says:

    Ladies who lie — please remember that the only thing that really counts is that your child is:
    1. Happy
    2. Safe
    Everything else is just noise. If your kid has 1&2, then meet any criticism with a smug smile because you are doing a great job.

  62. Nicole Krieger says:

    Babies who walk too early miss out on brain development. The motion of crawling helps develop the brain, because of the opposite arm/leg motion, ie step forward with the right arm and left leg, then the left arm and right leg. This movement is important for both-sides brain development. Skipping the crawling phase results in problems later on.

  63. Nicole Krieger says:

    Here is a link about the importance of crawling:

    http://www.medcentral.org/body.cfm?id=456

  64. Anonymous says:

    THANK You, Thank You, Thank You for this post! I just googled “why won’t my baby walk” Seriously, 16 months next week and taking 1-2 steps then plop! Frustrating but more frustrating is everyone else’s never-ending opinions. I am trying to be patient but I must admit It’s HARD!

  65. Susan says:

    My oldest daughter, now 5, didn’t walk until 18 months old, and of course the daughter of my closest mom friend stood up and started at 9 months old. Everyone told me that something was wrong, but I listened to my instincts and saw that she was developing normally in every other way, so I didn’t worry at all. I did, however, get tired of lugging around my 25 lb baby all the time! My second child, who is now 2 1/2, did the army man crawl rather than a traditional crawl. It amazed me how many strangers felt it was their place to approach me and tell me I was doing damage to her muscles by not forcing her to crawl. One nanny in baby class even told me a similar thing, to hold her under belly when she crawled. She even went so far as to tell me her own 17 year old daughter did the same, and when she was 15 she tripped and fell; apparently the ER Doc had seen this kind of thing before and diagnosed the root cause of the fall as not crawling properly when she was a baby!!! As for my own daughter, she is now running faster and further than any other kid or adult, can hang like a monkey from any inanimate object and her walk is just fine, thank you very much.

    It’s amazing the pressure we get (and put on ourselves) to make sure our kids are ‘normal and average’. I tell myself daily that the mothers of exceptional people such as Bill Gates or Shawn White probably let them develop at their own pace and look how well they turned out!

  66. Georgia Dad says:

    Given that most of these posts happened a few years ago, my guess is that every one of your children turned out just fine. My wife is a stay at home mom and is constantly concerned with the development of our baby girl. She was slow to crawl (about 12 months) and still hasn’t walked (almost 17 months). My daughter, however, has a HUGE disadvantage…she’s her father’s daughter! I was slow to walk, talk, and some would argue, function normally as an adult! J/K I couldn’t ask for a better wife and mother to my child. I really appreciate this article and the no-nonsense responses by a lot of you. I am perfectly fine “jumping on the grenade” and taking the blame for my daughter’s late development, especially if it means introducing some humor in an uncomfortable situation. My daughter is 17 months old, but is the size of a 2.5 year old. She’s super skinny, has no hips or butt, and has a giant head…all like her dad. She is also the most beautiful, sweetest, and loving little girl in the world (okay, I am a tad bias). I want to say thank you to all of you for the words of encouragement and hope everyone of you has an amazing family like this proud dad!!

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