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The Awkward In-Between Stage

Neither a newborn nor a toddler. Doing tummy time and trying her hardest to crawl.

So this has been happening recently: I've been finding myself saying "when Matilda was a baby" as though she isn't just three months old; "when Matilda was little" as though she isn't less than 70cm long (and "long" rather than "tall").

And I'm not the only one.

Friends who spend a lot of time with Matilda talk about "when she was a baby". Friends with similar aged infants talk about "when the kids were little".

Four months ago, I would have thought we were all crazy. Or so sleep deprived that we couldn't string proper sentences together. Because a three month old is a baby, right?

Right.

Only...

Not exactly.

Not how I - and many people I've spoken to - picture babies. Babies are squishy little purple faces surrounded by pastel blankets; babies are cradled in somebody's arms, limbs curled tightly into themselves; babies look stunned and cry but they barely interact.

Three month old babies aren't like that. Three month olds - and two month olds and four month olds and so on - are brimming with personality. They smile; they play; they kick their limbs around; they sleep splayed across their cribs; they have favourite people; they approve and object.

They are little people in a way that newborn babies aren't.

But they're not toddlers yet. They can't walk. They can't even crawl.

I feel bad for Matilda sometimes. For the last four weeks she has been entirely focused on trying to crawl. She isn't strong enough yet but she tries and she tries and she tries. She bellows with frustration when her waggling limbs don't propel her forward. I can't put her down for more than five minutes without her flipping herself onto her front and trying her hardest to move.

It's a frustrating stage for her and - although I'm incredibly proud of her determination - it's a frustrating stage for me, listening to her angry roars. She's at this point between absolute helplessness and minor independence - she's neither a newborn nor a toddler.

She's somewhere in-between.

And "baby" doesn't do this stage of her development justice.

So what are we supposed to call them, these children who are trying so hard to move?

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