Toddlers who look older than they are

Toddler growth is highly variable – both emotionally and physically. All toddlers develop at different rates, and some grow to be significantly larger than their peers. Hey, someone has got to fill out the top of that growth chart, right?

Toddlers are small by definition, even a couple of inches can make a big difference when it comes to guessing a young child’s age. If a toddler is standing a full head taller than their peers, it’s definitely no reason to worry, as long as their pediatrician says they are growing on a typical growth curve.

Still, a tall toddler can raise some eyebrows from strangers, who may think they are older than they actually are. This can be frustrating, when children are expected to behave with a maturity they haven’t grown into yet. The parents of tall tots may find themselves constantly cluing strangers into how old their children actually are.

There are a few ways to handle assumptions about a toddler’s age that may not be strictly true.

  • Brush it off: If someone in the grocery line is trying to strike up a conversation with Baby, but they isn’t there verbally because of their age, it can be helpful to try not to make a big deal of the situation. Respond for them and move along. As long as the person isn’t being rude, there’s no need to defend Baby for their reply (or lack of one), and keeping your response low-key can help to keep them from feeling like they're behind where they should be.
  • Acknowledge the situation: At other times, you may get looks or even comments you don’t care for, and may choose to respond. For example, if someone says something about Baby being “a little old” for that pacifier, you may decide to respond briefly with their actual age.
  • Keep it light: Being tall or looking older is nothing to be ashamed of. Baby is always listening, especially when you’re talking about them, so keep that in mind every time the subject comes up. Responding apologetically, with sentences like, “They're just really big for their age,” which may eventually open Baby up to feeling self-conscious about their size. If Baby brings up the topic to you, it’s a great chance to remind them that people come in all shapes and sizes, and that they are perfect just the way they are!

Growth rates in children aren’t always steady or predictable, so Baby may not always be the tallest one in the class – but whether they're looking up at their classmates or towering over them, the important thing is to help them feel comfortable in their own skin.

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