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“Is She a Good Baby??”

Am I Naughty or Nice?

I’ve had several people pose the question – “Is she a good baby?” – when meeting Eleanor for the first time. Now, I know these people are well intentioned and don’t imagine I’d give any answer but “yes.” However, I have to say the phrase gives me pause; the English nerd in me can’t help but to ponder the semantics. If E is a “good” baby, does that mean some babies are “bad?” Is a “bad” baby one who cries a lot? One who is “difficult?” So maybe a “good” baby is an “easy” baby – one of those babies that sleeps when she’s “supposed” to sleep, rarely fusses and is happy to be placed wherever or held by whomever.  Of course “easy” is problematic too.   Much of what is labeled seems to revolve around infant sleep; even complete strangers are quick to ask new parents “Does she sleep through the night yet?” – (an expectation that deserves it’s own post!).

Some babies sleep 6 hour stretches and are quiet.  Some use their voices often and need more help settling.  Neither is better or worse – just different.  Like adults, babies come in a range of temperaments; to place value on one over another seems silly at best.

It’s human nature to categorize and compare.  We make sense of the world and people we meet (even small ones) by labeling and sorting.  That said, it’s worth considering if in using certain labels or categories we suggest unintended things about children.   If we label a baby “good,” we simultaneously label another baby with different qualities “bad” to balance the equation.   And, really, is any baby “bad”?  Given that they aren’t cognitively and emotionally capable of acting in such a fashion…no.

So how to answer the “Is she a good baby?  Does she sleep for you?” query?  I just smile and say, “Aren’t they all?  And, of course, she sleeps like a baby.”

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Published in Parenting