real life

'People make a fuss about your birthday': The pros and cons of being a leap year baby.


On the 29th of February, 1996, my parents welcomed their third and favourite* daughter into the world.

*Favourite status is not confirmed, but I’m pretty confident.

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I was a newborn, so initially I couldn’t really grasp that I was born on a ‘special’ day. But it didn’t take me too long to realise that being born on a leap year comes with its own unique set of experiences that only 0.07 per cent of the population understand:

  • We’re pretty rare. There is a 1 in 1,461 chance of being born on a leap day.
  • Leap years are also Olympic years, so on the rare occasion someone asks, “When are the next Olympics?”, I’m ready (some might even say I was born ready to answer that question).
  • I always have a fun fact for uncomfortable ice-breaker activities. It’s foolproof, sparks conversation and takes the anxiety out of the introductory exercise that should really be illegal.
  • The funniest assumption people have is that I just don’t celebrate a birthday during the three years in between leap years. Imagine if my parents just ignored all ages other than 4, 8, 12, 16 etc.
  • People remember your birthday because you’re likely the only person they know born on a leap year.
  • If you grew up as an attention seeker (such as childhood me, who was rarely in anything other than sequins), people tend to make a fuss about your birthday – even on the off-years. I get two birthdays: the 28th and the 1st.


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Only a few days left as a 5 year old. ????

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  • The lines get blurry when it comes to getting your free birthday Boost Juice etc., and you can see the employee enter into a slight panic as they decide whether or not to give you your drink or rule you out on a technicality.
  • During the in-between years, you don’t get all of those sweet, sweet online shopping discounts in your inbox, because their automated systems don’t recognise your non-existent birthday.
  • It is a platform for incredible Dad jokes, especially on dating apps. ‘You’re a little young to be on here?’ etc.
  • When I turned 18, it was a total gamble whether the bouncer would let me into the club on my ‘birthday’ because I was technically still one day off being 18… It’s safer to wait until March 1.
  • Facebook has banned me from changing my birthday. By default, I leave it as the 28th, but this year I went to change it to the 29th and it said I had changed it too many times over the years… so everyone is about to be really confused.
  • As I write this, it’s 9 a.m. on the 28th of February and so far two of my family members have wished me Happy Birthday. Guys, we’ve been through this. It’s tomorrow.

I’ve had mixed reactions throughout my life when people find out, most of the time it’s positive and they have lots of questions, but occasionally I get “that must be the worst” and “I used to make fun of the leap year kid.” Personally, I love being a leapling and I’m looking forward to seeing you all at my 21st in 2080.

Are you a leap year baby too? If so, let us know in the comments.

Feature image: Instagram/@lucymneville