If you have a baby, you’ve no doubt been asked the most common question there is: ‘Is he/she a good baby?’
You’ve probably figured out the definition of a ‘good’ baby according to those asking the question is one that sleeps a lot, easily, and on their own.
This child must also be placid and calm, without demanding too much attention, and feed well, but not too often.
Very few babies can live up to this view of what is ‘good’, so it begs the question, does this mean if your baby can’t be classed as ‘good’, then they are by default ‘bad’?
The Problem With Unrealistic Expectations
Society has become very removed from the biologically normal way for babies to behave. As a result, the expectations placed on our babies, from even the earliest days of their life, threaten to dehumanise and devalue the whole person for the sake of the dreamy ‘easy’ baby ideal.
These unrealistic ideals focus on what is seen as undesirable or even unnecessary and sets parents up to feel they’re doing something wrong or their baby is abnormal. They believe there’s a need for help or intervention to achieve what society tells them is not only attainable but essential.
So if you are a new parent with a baby who doesn’t fit the ‘good’ baby mould, firstly: Welcome to this fabulous club! We are a surprisingly large group and you’re in the warm company of many who have had to review this narrow definition of ‘good’ to encompass our unique pieces of perfection that we helped to create.
Now, let’s do a fun little quiz to help you work out if your baby is indeed a ‘Good Baby’:
# 1. Is Your Baby A Baby?
ANSWER: So far so good, you probably don’t need to complete this quiz!
#2. How Does Your Baby Like To Sleep?
- On you
- Next to you
- In the bassinet
- In the cot/crib
- While being rocked/ sung to.
ANSWER: Congratulations on figuring out your baby’s current preference for sleep! Your amazing baby has been good at expressing their comfort and sleep needs. Following your baby’s lead will help you adapt and grow along with your baby. Whether your baby prefers one or all of the above, they’re a good baby!
Here are some great articles about where babies sleep and the critical fourth trimester:
- Sleep Where the Baby Sleeps- Surprising Facts About Daytime Naps
- Sleeping With Baby- Safe Co-Sleeping Tips
- The Fourth Trimester- 8 Ways To Create a Great One For Your Baby
Red Nose also provides some essential safety information for preparing a sleep surface whether it is a bassinet, cot or a shared sleep space. You can download free brochures here.
#3. Does Your Baby Know How To Tell You They’re Hungry?
- Good job baby! Feeding on demand has been shown to be the appropriate way to ensure your baby’s unique nutritional needs are met and a breastfeeding mother has bountiful supply. The number and frequency of feeds in a 24-hour period varies enormously from baby to baby.
- I’m sure your healthcare provider has assisted you with ensuring you meet your baby’s nutritional needs until they are able to indicate it without extra guidance. Great job team!
ANSWER: Either way, you have a ‘good baby’.
#4. When Your Baby Is Uncomfortable Or In Pain, Do They…
- Call to you for help
- Lay and suffer in silence.
ANSWER: A baby has many sensations to get used to, which they’ve never experienced before. Some babies are more sensitive to this than other babies. A baby crying for help when uncomfortable or in pain is doing a good job at communicating their needs and you can rest assured that by attending to their cries, you are building strong bonds of trust with your baby.
If you are concerned about your baby’s crying, here are some articles to help:
- 10 Things Your Crying Baby Wants You To Know
- Baby Crying – 10 Reasons Why Your Baby Might Be Crying
- Two Things Proven to Reduce Infant Crying
#5. When Your Baby Is Scared, Do They…
- Call to you for help
- Freeze and play possum.
ANSWER: As already mentioned, some babies are more sensitive to what is happening around them. A baby who is easily startled and frightened may require extra closeness to reassure them while they find their confidence in this world. A sensitive person is every bit as good as a person who is less sensitive.
Check out Pain and Feeling In Newborns- 7 Things Parents Need To Know for more information.
#6 To Find And Maintain Sleep, Your Baby…
- Requires little to no assistance
- Requires assistance some of the time
- Requires assistance most of the time
- Requires assistance all of the time.
ANSWER: No matter how much assistance your baby requires’, they ARE a good baby! It is normal for human babies to need assistance to find and maintain sleep through the first year of life and beyond. They don’t wake and call for help to be bad, naughty, manipulative or clingy.
They do it because their bodies and minds are rapidly growing and changing. They do it because they have an intense need for contact, comfort and the security that they feel when you are near.
It is impossible for a baby or even a toddler to self soothe from a place of distress. There is no malice or element of ‘bad’ about your baby, no matter how differently their sleep looks to the way you are told to expect it.
If you are concerned about your baby’s wakefulness, please look into underlying issues that exacerbate their normal wakeful behaviour. None of these issues stem from your responsiveness:
- Reflux, allergies, intolerances, sensitivities
- Tongue tie
- Birth trauma or residual or chronic pain
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea, due to enlarged tonsils or adenoids.
FINAL SCORE: a resounding 6/6! Look at your amazingly GOOD baby! Your unique, perfectly imperfect little person is far more than their current ability or inability to find and maintain sleep. They deserve to be recognised for all they are and all they can be.
As a parent, never fear being a little ‘different’. The world would be an incredibly dull place without all of the colourful differences which make us exactly who we are.
So next time you are asked if your baby is a ‘good baby’, you can confidently reply that they are the best baby they can be.