How Old is Your Baby?

Such a simple question. As a new-ish mom, it is something I am asked almost daily when I am out with my son. Normally, this is a question a mom answers quickly with a huge, proud smile on her face.

Not me.

It always takes me a second to answer. First, I have to decide which answer to give you. Then, if I decide to give the easy answer, I have to quickly do the math in my head.

You see. I have a preemie. My son was born at just 24 weeks. That is four months early for those that don't want to do the math.

So, when you ask me how old my son is, I have to decide if you want the truth. But the truth isn't that simple. I could tell you he is twenty-one months old. That is true. You may look at me funny, because he doesn't look like a twenty-one month old. You might even say something like "He's so small!". (Trust me- that is the last thing I ever want to hear!)

I may tell you he is twenty-one months old, but his corrected age is seventeen months. This is the full truth, but boy, does it get me a number of looks. Most people don't understand what corrected age is, so your simple polite question of "how old is your baby" becomes a lesson in prematurity. Plus, usually once someone hears how early Sam was they want to know more. I do love the look on people's faces when I tell them that he only weighed one pound twelve ounces when he was born.

Of course, with many people, I take the easy way out and just give Sam's corrected age. It seems so much easier than diving into the entire story. Of course, this answer takes me a moment, as I need to quickly do the math in my head to make sure that I am correcting his age... correctly. While this is the easiest answer for strangers trying to make polite conversation, it is one that I hate giving.

Not telling you Sam's real age feels like I am cheating him. Those first three months matter and make him special, and I want to make sure that everyone who meets him knows it.

This particular issue really came to a head for me recently thanks to an exchange with the folks over at I sent a simple suggestion that they should allow people to indicate if their baby was premature or not when adding the newest addition to their account. The response I got back was canned, cold, condescending and insulting. For a site that prides themselves on providing advice and support that is "remarkably right at every stage of her child's development", their disregard for the preemie parent was a little shocking. I wrote all about my exchange here.

Next time you ask a mom hold old their baby is, take notice of how they answer. It's possible that you have found a preemie mom who is struggling with how best to answer you.

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