How Big is Too Big?

Last night I was cooking dinner, and Joshua asked to be picked up. I don’t mind picking him up — I love the cuddle time with my little man — but man, is he getting heavy! At last check (which was at his 2-year well visit on October 1, 2013), he was 36 3/4″ tall and weighed 28 lbs. He was two years and one day old at the time.

Today, he’s 2 years, 3 months, 3 weeks, and 2 days old, stands somewhere around 38″ tall and weighs approximately 31 lbs (Hubs gets on the scale alone, and then holding him, and subtracts the difference). He grew quite a bit in such a short span — he’s going to be tall and lanky like his father, I swear! But that’s not my point here…it’s just to illustrate a size comparison. I’m 32, 5’2″ tall, and around 145 lbs (not lingering on that right now). My two-year-old is more than half my height and somewhere around 21 or 22% of my body weight. So my question is this:

Is he getting too big, or too old, to be picked up?

When I taught preschool, I had a student in my pre-K class who got hurt and asked to be picked up. She was 4 at the time, which would definitely make her too old, but she was also a very small girl. I picked her up, hugged her for a minute, and then my assistant teacher told me to put her down. “She’s too big to be held. You need to put her down,” she said. I remember feeling hurt; not only was my pride injured (because yes, she probably was too old to be held), but this preschooler who came to me with a scraped knee started to cry again when I set her feet back on the floor. I remember sitting down with her and just rubbing her back, telling her it would be okay, until she was calm enough for me to clean and bandage her up and let her go back to playing.

When Joshua was a baby I picked him up whenever I wanted or needed to without so much as a second thought.

Now that he’s growing bigger and becoming harder to hold up for periods of time, though, I keep catching myself going back to that incident with the preschooler and the assistant. It’s gotten me thinking, is there some kind of age or size threshold that, when a child crosses it, you’re not supposed to hold them anymore? I understand that four years old is too old. That’s fine. But is three too old? Two? Or are we going by when you literally hear yourself grunting and groaning when you attempt to lift the child?

What it comes down to with Joshua is this: I love holding him. I really do. We give each other hugs and kisses, share snacks, and cook together (he loves stirring pots while in my arms), which I truly enjoy. It’s wonderful having these bonding opportunities with my son, and I believe that I need to capitalize upon every opportunity that presents itself and savor it before Joshua gets old enough and independent enough to not want me anymore. (Is that it, that I should keep holding him until he stops asking?) At the same time, though, I can’t hold him for as long as I used to without feeling back pain and tired arms. That’s normal, because Joshua is growing; eating disorder or serious illness notwithstanding, he’s not going to get any lighter from here on out. But every time he approaches me with those innocent, puppy-dog eyes and a lisping, “Up, please,” I find myself (usually) completely unable to say no. That’s not to say that I can’t say no to him at all — I certainly have, and I do on a regular basis. That’s not the issue here.

So talk to me — how big is too big? How old is too old? Or was there some other factor that played into your decision (or your child’s) to not pick up anymore?

  • I’m going through the same thing. My 2 year old has his moments where he just wants to be held. I think they will always be our babies so it’s hard to imagine them being too big for anything.

  • Well, that is a good question. I don’t think there really is a specific age. I kept picking up until I couldn’t, but I would say something like “You are such a big girl now, Mommy can’t hold you very long…” and then a big squeeze, or a sitting down hug. I think more important that the holding is the child having full assurance that you love them and enjoy wrapping them in your arms. Eventually, you’ll have to draw the line to save your back:) (stopping in from Blog Formatting!)