Babies or Toddlers: Which Make You Happier?


tantrumAccording to a new study out of Norway, parents of young children seem to be a pretty miserable bunch. Dissatisfaction with our relationships and lives in general seem to take a hard hit beginning in pregnancy, and after a few peaks and valleys, hit an all-time low around the time one's child turns 3. Great, my baby just turned 2.

Honestly, it's a pretty depressing study all around. And according to Science Daily, Norwegian women -- those included in this study -- are generally happier than those of us in other locales. So we may be even more miserable than this study suggests.

"Most adults want to have children," says researcher Ragnhild Bang Nes. "Children are seen as a blessing, an enrichment, and a central source of meaning, love, and belonging. One would therefore expect that having a child meets both the desire and satisfies a fundamental need, which in turn creates happiness and satisfaction. However, studies show that this is not always the case. This is often called the 'paradox of parental life.'"

The "paradox of parental life" sounds like a disease or something. And it's true, parenting is hard, but like with most studies, you have to take the results with a grain of salt (perhaps around the rim of a margarita?) and know that it doesn't mean that's the way it is for everyone.

The study found parents were happiest when their children were infants and it got worse as they became toddlers. And those terrible 2s everyone complains about, well, they're supposedly no match for the terrifying 3s. I just don't see it.

While I've loved my children at every age, I can say with all honestly that I like them a lot better with every year that passes. And I adore the toddler years.

Babies are sweet and cuddly, but they're so incredibly needy. Besides a coo or a smile here and there, you're don't get a whole lot back. Give me a tantrum any day over a baby who wakes up in the middle of the night for no reason (repeatedly). You cannot bribe a baby, but the right bribes (or positive reinforcement as I like to think of them) work wonders on toddlers.

I love to watch the language of a toddler emerge, to see how they learn to interact with the world around them, and there are moments -- though few and far between they may be -- that you can actually reason with them. Plus, truly the funniest lines in the world come from the mouths of 2- and 3-year-olds. Even their outbursts are pretty entertaining.

And frankly, toddlers are a lot less work. Those infant baby carriers are devices of torture, and having to tote around diapers, bottles, baby food, bibs, extra outfits, and all the other stuff babies need was exhausting. Now all I really need is a diaper and some wipes in my purse (my purse! no more diaper bag needed). Somewhere around 18 months, I felt like I was coming out of a fog, and it seems to just be getting more fun as we go, even with the tantrums, which she seems to have a penchant for throwing right in the middle of busy streets.

So personally, I know I'm happier now that my daughter is 2 than when she was a baby, and I can only believe that in this next year as she learns to be more independent, I will only be happier. I hope so anyway.

Do babies or toddlers make you happier personally?

Image via ryancboren/Flickr

a mom's life, discipline


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poshkat poshkat

i think its true, everyone loves babies (well most everyone) and babies are so easy, you hold them, you feed them, you burp them, you change them, they sleep for most of the time. toddlers are outspoken little people who are in constant need of attention, want all the power and its a big struggle. its harder with them, no wonder people are less happy.

qrex912 qrex912

I prefer babies, but that's just me. I like toddlers that are in my family, and I'm sure when my daughter is a toddler, I will think she is simply divine, but I would prefer not to have to be anywhere near most other toddlers.

shajd... shajdinyak

I think it depends on the baby and toddler. My dd is much easier as a toddler than as a baby. However, some ppl have easy babies, I was blessed w a spirited needy one. Hope number two is much easier on me!!

Vanessa Pereira-Hagen

I'm with poshkat all the way!! LOL  I have a very vocal & challenging 3 yr old son...Although I love listening to the crazy things he comes up with and watching him learn so much, I find my self missing that chubby little baby with every fit he throws lately! (hence my current profile pic is from 3 yrs ago)

Raynebird Dragonwyke

i'm a first time gramma now.  raised all my kids, and been thru all the stages there are.  i loved ALL of them the most each time i went thru one.  there wasn't one moment that i didn't enjoy the hell out of being a mom.  and now that i'm a gramma, there's not a moment i don't love again.  it depends on the person's outlook, generally speaking, on life to begin with.  if you look at your life as a blessing then the things, and ppl you bring into it are a blessing too, whatever they bring with them. 

Amand... Amandalynn789

I loved my daughter as a baby, and I loved her more and more as she grew. She is now 19 months old and I wouldn't wish to go back to when she was a 'baby'. She's such a goofy little character, she has such personality and is so sweet and cuddley. She's learning new words and I love to watch her figure something out. I'm loving this stage!

livn4... livn4hevn

I have a 4 (almost 5), a 3, and a 1. So I'm ranging everything from baby to preschool right now. I think my oldest is the easiest to deal with.

On the other hand my 1 year old is SO fun to cuddle, help learn to walk, and I have SOME amount of control over her daily schedule, what she wears, etc. My 4 year old doesn't nap anymore.... my 1 year old does. I get that afternoon break where everyone is down, and I can catch up on e-mails, laundry, dinner plans, cleaning or w/e else is on my list. My one year old also doesn't "Test" me. She gets told "no", she cries, but she STOPS. My 4 year old will wait until i'm not looking and try it just one more time. My three year old will question exactly how serious I really AM about "no" and try again later, when I've forgotten about it.


livn4... livn4hevn

I think it's all give and take. It's boys and girls too...boys tend to get easier as they get older. More independant, less maintenence. My daughter is getting progressively worse in her level of maintenence. She's more emotional, and needs more TLC after her traumatic boo-boos. I love the fact that I can cuddle her to death and she loves it, but that same neediness isn't so great when she's hungry and refuses to feed herself, or when she doesn't want to walk because she knows I'll hold her.

I'd be interested to see some statistics on how many boys are born to Norweigan women, vs girls. That could contribute to the higher/lower levels of happiness. Boys are destructive and dirty  and as women, we don't always understand WHY. When a little girl puts on mom's make up, we get it. When a little boy dumps his toy box upside down and throws dirt, we're lost. That could lead to a lot more frustrating scenarios!

Vanessa Pereira-Hagen

@livn4hevn, "When a little girl puts on mom's make up, we get it. When a little boy dumps his toy box upside down and throws dirt, we're lost. That could lead to a lot more frustrating scenarios!"   BRILLIANT examples!!  I think ur onto something there!

Maria Theresa Pruitt

Pre elementary school years were hands down the best years of my life. I would give anything to experience them again.

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