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Should You Celebrate Half-Birthdays?

Corey Kagan Whelan
June 16, 2017

6 reasons to celebrate your child's half-birthday with wholehearted enjoyment.

If the last birthday party you threw for your child was only a half-hearted attempt or not everyone could make it, do not despair. You don't have to wait another year to make it right. Celebrate the half-birthday!

This trend of celebrating half-birthdays is becoming more and more common. More than just another opportunity to eat cake, half-birthday celebrations may represent a really good opportunity to make your child feel special. Here are some reasons to pull out the old cake pan mid-year.

  1. A Parent Was Deployed
    With so many American troops currently serving overseas, many children find themselves celebrating their birthdays without their mom or dad present. After the much-awaited homecoming takes place, a half-birthday celebration can become a festive day to make up for some of the lost memories of the past year.

  2. It Represents a Personal Milestone
    "Usually half-birthdays are called to attention by very young or very old people," says Dr. Kenneth Herman, a board-certified clinical psychologist and author of "Secrets from the Sofa." "The young are saying they want you to know they have progressed past their given age. The older folks want full credit for living so long. Is it important? Apparently to these two populations, it is. I say, if it makes one feel better by calling attention to the half year, it is worth acknowledging."

  3. You Had a Summer Baby
    Kids born between June and August can sometimes miss out on the birthday celebrations. No in-class cupcakes. A smaller guest list since classmates are away on vacation during a party. A half-birthday celebration that falls during the school year gives your child the opportunity to feel special and be acknowledged by friends who may not be around during the summer.

  4. You Had a Holiday Baby
    Children born on or around the holidays often feel cheated of their birthday celebration and complain about getting double-duty gifts as well. A half-birthday celebration for a child born on or around holidays can give them the opportunity to reclaim a day that is solely their own and marked by birthday candles rather than those in the menorah or on the tree.

  5. It Creates a Teaching Moment
    "I am a mother of three kids and we absolutely do celebrate half-birthdays," says San Diego resident and cookbook author, Laura Bashar. "We started this tradition because it helped our children understand fractions at a young age. Then, they started asking if they had reached the 3/4 mark yet! It also helped them with the long-term countdown to their actual birthday," she says.

  6. Share and Share Alike Doesn't Cut It
    Sometimes, a child's birthday falls on the same day as another family member's birthday, anniversary or other milestone -- either a good or bad one.

    "If your child's birthday falls on a holiday or someone else's special day, it might be nice to have a special day for that child on their half-birthday," says licensed psychotherapist and author, Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. 

Tessina suggests making sure this is what your child wants first and not making a fuss if it's not desired by the child, however. "There's nothing wrong with having a party any time of year, but don't ask people to give presents twice -- they'll feel used," she cautions.

If you feel it is warranted, a half-birthday celebration can create a fun opportunity to acknowledge your child. Let a sense of whimsy, fun and even silliness be the most significant elements of this day, rather than material gifts. Play up the day by serving half a birthday cake and goofy, themed decorations, but let yourself and your child enjoy the celebration fully and with love.

Need some extra help organizing or setting up the party? Hire a babysitter or housekeeper to help out for a few hours.

Corey Whelan is a freelance journalist based in Brooklyn, N.Y. 

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