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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. 

Feb. 4, 2016

I am posting as guest because I am not often on this site. Because I had criticism (as child) of not enough activity among others my age AND I have summer birthday (wanting school celebration was independent of said criticism), I appreciate the half-birthday idea. You would need further adjustment for birthday or half-birthday falling near Christmas and New Year's.

June 27, 2014

I had half birthday as child and being born so close to thanksgiving some yrs birthday falls on it was weird. My paternal grandparents always made everything special. But my maternal grandma's birthday is two days before mine. That is where real problem came. See my paternal grandparents treated that day as my day day we got together for thanksgiving as they didn't like thanksgiving neither do i do to grandma having been part native American. My maternal grandma felt like center of attention on that day not me and also on that thursday we lumped all stiff together often prevented me from having party with friends on birthday. I truthfully in 28 yrs of life have only had 3 birthday parties. I don't midn so much cause I was twinless twin and while knew whole life it wasn't 100% confirmed till i wad pretty much an adult. So i felt akward on my birthday. I loved my half birthday with paternal grandparents. I was aksed do you want go alone or bring friend and once had sisters one could go with me if I wanted. My choices varred bit i felt special. I being star when my family was in akward situation of mother on jail where I think she still should be but I digress, and dad being single dad made my siblings feel special on half birthday and helped dad witj full birthdays. Brother was November 14 baby je is youngest of is oldest 4. The 2nd youngest of us oldest 4 got best birthday deal January 25 not overly close to holiday like rest of us oldest 4. The 2nd oldest of us older 4 she was April 14 baby around easter time. So ya could see why half birthdays would be great for them. I asked what each wanted to do on half birthday. Often times Easter child just said mcdonalds, then wanted rest of day to herself but her twin died in NICU so i kinda get jer behavior on half birthday and even odder behavioron her birthday. Only our cousin ever knew wjen hero r i had our fake smiles on. We got pro at faking smiles in awkward situations.January baby clinged to me on her half birthday it was so weird not that she wasn't naturally clingy child. We usually walked up to local store and got her her m &m;'s and pop then sat in park. Brother wanted to build some yrs and others science experiments. Though i am not entirely sure he wanted to build as mich as saod he did he figured out at 1 way before insainty started that I loved smell of wood. So might habe been trying to make sissy happy but at least he has hammer knowledge if ever needs it. Though i didn't have 21st birthday or go get smoshed like so many ppl do my cousin made sure i had good day that day. He wanted to do special for me sence i had almost 2 yrs prior helped his ma with his 21st. He knew i wasn't drinker. It was fun evening when he got off work. He is just inder 2 yrs older then me. I was born around 35 weeks. I was born tje November before his January 2nd birthday. Of course we didn't know till much later i was born early butt makes sence. Half birthdays are wonderful for kids. You will find that most 3-5 yr olds are highly aware of of their 3 1\4 or 4 1/2 or 5 3/4 they know. Some continue as get older others don't care.

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