Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Is he a good baby?

Why, of course he is! How can a baby not be 'good'? This is the question that I've been asked so many times when I've had a newborn baby in my arms and it drives me a little batty (I'm sure many of my friends will share in my frustrations here!)

I know that answer is not what people expect to hear when they ask the question though...

That's because, to many people, a 'good' baby means that a) the baby doesn't cry much, b) the baby sleeps well at night AND during the day, c) the baby will lie happily by itself and d) the baby will not feed often.

Call me silly, but are these not totally unrealistic expectations of a newborn (or indeed any young child)?! A newborn has just spent 9 months inside the mother's tummy being nurtured, comforted and fed continuously. Why do we suddenly expect him to sleep by himself or not need to be held or to wait 4 hours in between feeds?? I love the idea of a fourth trimester - a time when baby is making the transition from being in their Mother's tummy to adjusting to the outside world, a time when they most need to be held close and nurtured.

I understand that sometimes babies do fall under people's definitions of a 'good' baby however I don't think this is the norm (and it's certainly not something I've ever experienced with my spirited babies ;)) nor an expectation we should have. It's easy to see why first time parents fall into the trap of following strict routines with their babies instead of following their instincts (yep, I was one of them with my first!)

So many people have commented that Gideon seems to be a 'good' baby. I love to tell people that he's only a 'good' baby because his needs are being met straight away. He is carried in the sling during the day, he sleeps on our chest at night and he is fed whenever he wants it. I have no doubt that he would cry a lot more if we didn't meet his needs straight away. I'm not saying that he doesn't ever cry or is never unsettled but when he does cry it is always done in our arms, not in a cot by himself.

Babies are a blessing and it makes me sad to think that they are categorised as 'difficult' if they don't follow what society deems as a 'good' baby.

So...the next time you go to ask someone if they have a 'good' baby please think twice!

If you want to understand more about why we shouldn't expect children to sleep through the night until they are 3 or 4 years old, Kathy Dettwyler has written an excellent article

1 comment:

Kate Sins said...

I hate this question! I've been known to bite people's heads off when they've asked on a particularly trying day. Even more satisfying was not apologising for biting their head off!! It's so stupid, and it seems that other mothers ask it most. Why do women perpetuate the most frustrating behaviour?

I ask women who've had children "how do you feel?" Then it becomes about them.

Breathe out - rant over.

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