How Long is a Baby a Baby?

Think for a moment about the power of words.  

I remember talking to a friend from Venezuela and she encountered the word prairie in the book series Little House on the Prairie and asked what it meant.  We looked it up:

An extensive area of flat or rolling, predominantly treeless grassland, especially the large tract or plain of central North America.

I don’t know about you but I didn’t feel this captured what this word evokes for Americans.  Yes, that’s what it means but it implies more.  We had a great discussion about the settlers that moved west and all that meant.  When I think of a prairie I see connotations beyond the biological definition of the ecosystem.

Robin Allot writes on the Power of Words:

The important thing is not which particular words you use. It’s the meaning that matters.  Words crystallise our thoughts. Make our thoughts recoverable. Make the thought of others recoverable. How is it that words effectively represent the world, and allow the perception of the world by one individual to be transmitted to another?

When we think of words this way we can see how the definition of a word can have a huge impact on its connotation.  Think of the word “gay” and the permutations its definition has went through.  By altering the way we define the word we can give it power.

I think this is important in how we define the word baby.  At what age do you think a baby is no longer a baby?  When is a baby a child?  Infant? Newborn? Toddler?  And does it effect how we parent?
Newborn (or neonate) – the first 4 weeks of life
Infant – which is from the latin infans meaning unable to speak.  Today we normally call a baby an infant until they can walk.
Toddler – a baby that has begun to “toddle” or walk, usually between 12-18 months.
After this it gets more vague.  We use school as a litmus and have preschool and school-aged children.