When Your Little One is the Big One


If you’ve ever met me, I may seem taller than 5’4”. My college roommate stood next to me in front of a mirror once and said she didn’t realize how much shorter I was than her. Apparently I was so loud that it made up for my short stature.

I think I’ve piped down over the years, but I certainly haven’t grown, at least in height.

I can’t say the same for my two-year-old. Ever since he came into this world, he’s been in the 90th percentile for his height. Now, the Sailor is taller than me, but he’s no Goliath. In fact, nobody in our family is really tall.

And yet we somehow made a giant.

The Peanut also looks older. He’s never had much of a baby face, and he seemed to grow into toddlerhood overnight. He learned to climb before he could walk. His room is full of safari animals and pictures — especially giraffes. It’s as if we foretold a prophecy that he too would stretch towards the treetops. We probably should have come up with a better nickname for him than ‘the Peanut.’

There are lots of advantages to this. We skipped the toddler bed and went right from a pack ‘n play to a regular-sized bed. My child quickly learned how to climb in and out of his car seat and the high chair. Plus, now he can reach for his own water bottle on the counter.

There are also a few disadvantages.

The Peanut didn’t talk a whole lot until recently. He understood plenty and we used a lot of sign language together. However, his first actual words didn’t come until after 18 months, and even by his second birthday I could count on two hands the number of words he was actually saying.

Store clerks had one-way conversations with my son long before he could talk. I tried not to panic when they asked why he couldn’t talk yet, and I simply told them he’s younger than he looks. The staff at places like the zoo occasionally raise their eyebrows at me, then turn to their colleagues as if to ask if he’s really only two. I’ve taken to carrying around a copy of his birth certificate, just in case they finally ask me outright for proof. (Settle down everyone, he’s still under three and free.)

There’s also the playground. I often find myself telling kids older than the Peanut that he doesn’t yet understand that they want to play with him. Or I have to explain his actions to their mothers. Recently, the Peanut barreled down the slide at the mall and knocked over a little guy. I ran over and asked the mom, who was also carrying around an infant, if her son was okay before I even checked on the Peanut. Both were fine. I found myself babbling to the mom that he’s only just turned two. She shrugged it off and said it was fine, but then I saw her steer her son away from the Peanut, protectively.

In that instant, I felt like a terrible mom simply because my kid is a giant.

While the Peanut is a great traveler, this past trip, I had to stop him from kicking the seat in front of him on the second of three flights. In that moment, I yearned for a shorter kid who couldn’t yet reach the seat. The Peanut also screamed his lungs out at the post office in the middle of a line of people mailing Christmas stuff. (We all felt your pain, buddy.) To be fair, it was the last of too many stops during a long day of errands. But I wanted to shrink myself into the size of a postage stamp and mail myself away because I could feel the looks. Everyone else was silent, but I felt like they were asking me, ‘Why is your (assumed older) child screaming like a baby?’

I also thought I’d have this kid completely out of diapers by 18 months. (I can hear you snickering. I was naive.) Let me tell you, changing a diaper on a three foot tall two-year-old is sometimes impossible in a public restroom. The changing tables simply aren’t long enough. And then there’s the whole nursing issue. I am a breastfeeding advocate and have surprised even myself with extended nursing. But the bigger the Peanut gets, the more I’ve personally sought out private spaces when in public, for my own comfort more than his. Because while people tell you how truly marvelous it is to nurse your baby, many are also quick to criticize you when that baby is suddenly half the size of you. I just can’t deal with those people right now.

He’s also getting too big, too quickly for the smaller shopping carts at certain stores. While he’s below the weight restriction, getting his clown feet and lanky legs in and out of the shopping cart is sometimes not worth the hassle. I either need to curb my shopping habits, or put him in the stroller (which he’s also outgrowing rather rapidly).

I know these are all somewhat frivolous reasons to complain. And really, I’m not complaining. I love everything about the Peanut (except maybe he could give me a few more hours of sleep every night…).

I think the real reason it hit me now, is that this whole kid thing really does fly by. Having a tall one only seems to emphasize that, because he’s only going to get even bigger, even faster. I know kids all catch up together at some point. I’m still probably going to cry when he outgrows the set of clothes he’s in now, though.

How about you? Are your kids tall, short or somewhere in between?

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Brenda Steffen
I spent my twenties and a good chunk of my thirties living and working in various countries. I met and married a South African sailor and I was quite content to keep traveling without kids. We landed in Chattanooga in 2013 and our son arrived over the summer of 2014. We haven’t really slept since. Sometimes jet-lag gets the blame. Or Daylight Savings, or even a good book. Usually though, it’s the Peanut. You can often find me charged up on caffeine, chasing after my son at Coolidge Park, the zoo or the library. You can also find me online on my blog.


  1. Great article Brenda! We have experienced a lot of these with our two boys. Sigh. Ince we had them both lotty trained I wanted the time to slow down again!!!

    • Hey Brenda –

      Toby’s weight at his birth was almost ten pounds. He had a huge head. I went from a home birth to a c-section. I remember putting him in the cart while grocery shopping.. People looking at him would wonder why he couldn’t hold his head up. He was in the 95% for head size. At 34 he is 6″4 and thriving. Peanut will grow into his body. You sound like an awesome mom.

      • Awww, thank you, Torph! I can’t believe Toby is that tall now… wow! (And wow on the big head…)

  2. Always interesting to read the other side of the story. My sons are tiny. I am forever telling people that my younger son is older than he looks.

    My mom told me when my cousin was 8 months old he was so big that people were confused he wasn’t walking. I am sure that is difficult!

    • I know there are definitely two sides to the story! I feel like I meet lots of moms at story time at the library who look at the Peanut and then tell me their kids are small for their size. I hear they all even out at some point 🙂

  3. From the moment of birth, our second son was above 100%. Yes. ABOVE. He hasn’t slowed down since. He is almost 3 and still not really talking, though is in speech therapy, and we get a lot of looks because he looks older than three AND doesn’t talk.

    • Oh my goodness… wow. Your son is definitely ‘off the charts’ as they say! I’m sure it can be frustrating with him not really talking, but hang in there! (Easier said than done when people are giving you looks, I know!)

  4. Thanks for sharing! My son is the little one, and I’m always wishing he was bigger. I guess grass isn’t always greener is it?! 🙂

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