What is the difference between ‘infant’ and ‘toddler’?
(L. Balagopal, Hyderabad)
The word ‘infant’ comes from the Latin ‘in–fans’ meaning ‘unable to speak’. So technically an infant is a child that has not learned to speak as yet. For many native speakers, ‘infant’ is a formal word for ‘baby’; some scholars argue it is an impersonal or a medical term for ‘baby’.
A newborn baby or a very young child can be called an infant. In American English, the word is normally used to refer to a baby, especially a very young one. In British English, children as old as 7 are called ‘infants’.
In England, children between the ages of 4 and 7 go to ‘Infant Schools’. According to British law, anyone under the age of 18 is an infant!
There is less confusion about the word ‘toddler’. He is someone who ‘toddles’. In other words, he is someone who is just beginning to walk; he takes small, unsteady steps.
“Don’t knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn’t start a conversation if it didn’t change once in a while.” — Kin Hubbard