Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Good Baby, Bad Baby

You've all had someone say to you in public "What a good baby!" because your baby was quiet and smiling. Or you may have said it to someone else. When we think of a "good" baby we think of a baby that rarely cries, sleeps all night, naps during the day, eats peacefully, plays by himself or herself, is happy and smiling, follows your schedule, and doesn't want to be held all the time.

So is a baby who has few or none of the above qualities a "bad" baby? My baby fights sleep day and night, eats every two hours, loves to be held, fusses when he has a wet diaper, and decides how the day goes. But he is a very happy and silly baby. I would not call him "bad" at all. Nor even difficult (though he is sometimes). I would call him normal--and cute.

Babies cannot be put into categories of good and bad. All babies have the same basic needs; some just have higher needs than others. Babies also have different personalities and temperaments. Some babies, such as mine, are expressive and stubborn: they know what they need and will not cooperate until they get it. Others are quiet and submissive: they will stop crying if not answered. Still others are flexible and laid back, going with the flow.

We should embrace babies' uniqueness instead of trying to turn them into perfect cookie-cutter babies that don't exist. Once we do this, we become better parents. We understand that our baby is not controlling us and that cries are communicative, not manipulative. Our baby acts to have his or her physical and emotional needs met to survive and thrive. We easily brush off bad parenting advice because we know best what will help our baby. We stop comparing our baby to our friends' babies and enjoy our baby's development and milestones as they come. We simply enjoy our baby more.

It is still hard sometimes to get through the day with a fussy baby. Just remember that the qualities that test your limits now will mature into great traits for your baby if you parent him or her with love and respect. Our babies are future leaders, thinkers, creators, teachers, friends, and most important, parents. Nurture them now and they will beautifully blossom later.
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