I think that the general consensus here (and in science, which is where this comes from in the first place) is that children's developmental steps are not tied hard and fast to their age. Just as importantly, certain social expectations depend entirely on your parenting - eg: at what age should opposite-sex siblings stop bathing together?

I can't even imagine a parent putting up with a kid's insistence that they are old enough for an activity for long enough for age (in years) to be a real deciding factor. Can we discourage or at least warn against asking questions that start with "at what age should..."? If the question is about possible developmental delay, they should ask about a possible developmental delay, rather than asking "at what age should a child start potty training" when the real problem is that their 4 year old refuses to start.

I understand in crystal clear detail the motivation for asking "when the hell is developmental step X going to happen already, dammit?!" but the fact of the matter is, that noone can put a number to it, and in the end, it's all about the child's individual development. These sorts of questions usually have answers that begin like "well, there is no age, really...".

3 Answers 3


I don't really see a harm in people asking "at what age..." questions.

The site is here for parents to learn, and it might drive participants away if we criticize them for asking the "wrong" questions, or asking valid questions that are phrased "wrong".

The key is that good answers will give useful, accurate information (e.g. "somewhere between x and y is average, but if your child starts early/late you don't need to worry unless z" or "that should start once these developmental milestones are achieved:..." and not "that should happen by the time the child is 4").

I think we, as a community, can be far more lenient with questions than with answers.


I think you raise a valid point, insofar as the questions ask for a number when a number is not really a good answer. At the same time, I agree with Beofett that it's not really a problem unless we make it one.

So far, that kind of question has garnered useful answers in the sense ths most don't say "at age 4" such as you fear. You've probably also noticed that we try to maintain useful tags like "toddler" and "pre-school" and so on -- aiming at the rough developmental and/or social stages you're in favor of.

I feel that questions on age appropriateness are still highly relevant. At least they're among the most frequently asked questions, so in a sense that speaks for itself.


People on www search engines will type such questions - "When will my baby sleep through the night" or "when can I start weaning" or "when will my child start walking".

Having those questions here, and pulling traffic here, isn't too bad, so long as the answers are factual and supported with good links.

I'd be worried about excessive anecdote in the answers though.

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