Dad for Beginners

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baby age

A Guide to Baby Age: Counting in Months Like Parents and Prisoners


The eternal question: how does one properly determine baby age? Months? Weeks?

Do you still use your fingers to help with simple addition? Don’t be ashamed if you do. I admit that I do on occasion. I try my best not to get caught counting on my fingers but the truth is, it happens. Life goes on. When someone tells me how old their child is, however, I’m often confronted with another mathematical issue, one my fingers cannot quickly remedy. Do I acknowledge the age of the child even though I know I will have to spend the next few seconds calculating months into years? Or do I pause, pull out my phone to calculate the actual age, and then acknowledge the person? Why don’t people just tell me how old the kid is in a simple fashion? Life’s unsolved mysteries…

Why do parents reference the age of their child using months, even when the age of said child has surpassed the point where months are the most effective way to convey age?

To get straight to the point – if you say that your baby is 31 months old, I hate you. [adToAppearHere]

Someone recently told me that their baby was 20 months old. Seems like an arbitrary figure for conveying baby age…20 months? Now I have to do math.

baby age

Baby age calculator, also useful for prison sentence countdowns…

Why would this person not say “a year and a half”? Why was it perceived to be easier to inform me of this child’s age using months? In the moment, I’m left mentally calculating how old 20 months actually is instead of responding in a timely fashion and thus carrying on a normal adult conversation without looking ridiculous.

Here is a glimpse into my mind during this awkward discussion: “20 months. Let’s see, 12 months in a year…so one year and six months, ok that’s 18 months which is a year and a half. Plus two more months, so ok this child is about a year and a half old. Ok, got it. [glance at my fingers to be sure. Continue conversation].”

Prisoners count in months. This is somehow more acceptable for two reasons. 1.) the judicial system often sentences using months and 2.) when faced with a length of time removed from society, counting in months is tantamount to a “t-minus” for the individual. Therefore, I accept the answer of “20 months” more readily when it comes from a prisoner telling me how much time they have left. Not that I find myself in that situation often.

In my quest to discover a suitable answer to this question, I sought out some online forums on the topic. In response to the question, “Do I calculate baby age in weeks or day of the month?” I unearthed this gem left by someone called, “Garlicky.”

“Go by day of the month. 4 weeks doesn’t equal a month, so 8 weeks old and 2 months are different things. Slightly different, but still different. Think about it this way – 12 months in a year. If 4 weeks equalled (sic) a month, that would be 4×12 = 48 weeks in a year. But there are 52 weeks in a year. If that makes sense.”

Yes, much better. Thank you, Garlicky. That makes perfect sense. Thank you for clarifying my baby age question.

Is this really the logic people are using to calculate the age of their baby? Really? I would love to see how they determine the age of their dog. Or their car.

Of course, this begs the question, when do you stop counting in months? There doesn’t seem to be a concrete answer out there. Personally, I find it irritating referring to any child over a year old in months, so I wouldn’t expect I’d enjoy it if someone told me that their child was 108 months old.

baby age

Like toothpicks on the floor, counting in months can get absurd as well. Where’s Rainman?

My son turns two months old tomorrow on August 17th. When asked, I will say that he is two months old, because months are still an appropriate gradient of his age. However, if anyone cares, he will be 5,270, 400 seconds old. [adToAppearHere]


  1. To be perfectly honest, if someone tells me how old their child is in months, first of all, its unsolicited because I dont care enough to ask. Second, I certainly dont do the math to actually figure it out. Its nice of you to actually entertain the notion of doing the calculation.

    • Touché. Yes, I too care so little that I could almost faint…BUT I do feel it is a real concern that needs to be ended in the world of parenting!

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