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The Myth of the ‘Easy’ Baby

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When people asked me if my babies were ‘easy‘, or if they were ‘good‘, my first reaction was to wince and then remind myself to smile and say ‘yes‘. I know they were only asking out of habit or lack of something better to say.  I still give the same reaction when I hear someone saying, ‘Oh, we’re so lucky, we have suuuuuch a good baby‘.  Wince.  Smile.  

Can a baby be ‘easy‘? Can a baby be ‘fussy’? Babies are just babies! They have no good or bad intentions. They don’t manipulate. They’re not conniving. They are also not aiming to please. They are not trying to make their mommies and daddies proud… They just are…

Is an ‘easy‘ baby one who doesn’t need attention? Does an ‘easy‘ baby follow a feeding schedule and only get hungry when it’s convenient for the parents or carers to stop and feed? Is a ‘good‘ baby one that doesn’t need to be held all the time and is happy to smile and giggle all the time? Does an ‘easy‘ baby sleep through the night from 6 weeks and never cry? Does a ‘good‘ baby happily settle by himself? Is an ‘easy’ baby one that is always content in the car and never fusses during baths, changes, tummy time, and loud, unfamiliar places?  Oh… well… if you compare my babies to those standards… then I was lying to all those people. My babies were not ‘easy‘.

But, I answered ‘yes‘ to the ‘good baby question’ so many times because, to me, my babies were easy!

I held my babies in baby carriers, slings and wraps whenever I needed to. I fed on demand (and I’m still tandem feeding and my girls are 3 1/2 years old and 16 months). I took them to the toilet when they had to go, day and night (it’s called elimination communication)… do you know how many. times. a. newborn. pees. and. poos. a. day?!?! I kept them in my room at night and they slept in my bed (gasp). They’re still in there to this day. I held them in my arms without distractions, when they would do nothing else other than cry. When I couldn’t handle them anymore, I passed them over to my husband, who would carry out the same duties (ok, except that he unfortunately doesn’t have boobs). Sounds like a lot of work, when I put it that way… but it didn’t feel like it to me at the time. My life wasn’t ‘ruined‘. My life wasn’t being ‘controlled‘. I was just doing what came naturally to me.

I’m not some freakish super mom for doing what I did with my babies. I’m also not saying you have to do all of those things I mentioned in order to be a good mother.  Everyone has their own unique situation to consider. I think almost every mother, no matter what the situations is, fusses over her child to make sure that they’re happy. I’m not special.  I’m not a martyr for doing anything I did.

Why did I do all those things for my babies? I don’t know… I just did them!

Was it easy?  I don’t know?  What’s hard? I never asked myself those questions of whether it was easy or hard.  I just did them. When I got too tired to do what I wanted to do, I stopped, or asked for help. I’m certainly not saying that it’s bad to say you’ve had an ‘easy‘ baby either! Some babies are certainly more cruisy than others! So, it’s natural for us to think of babies as ‘easy‘ or not!

So, were my babies ‘easy‘? It depends who you ask. Anyway, who cares if a baby acts ‘easy‘. What happens when that ‘easy‘ baby grows into a clingy toddler? A whiney three year old?    Then what?  ‘Oh, they were such a good baby, and then, I don’t know what happened!’  Toddlers, preschoolers and kids of all ages… do they make a conscious effort to be naughty or difficult?  Aren’t they still just kids?  Can we just let children be children and not take their actions as something we think is ‘good‘ or ‘bad‘.  How about a bit of unconditional love? Do we take offense to their moods? Do we tell them to just stop acting ‘naughty‘, or do we search for the underlying meaning for their behavior?

Sometimes we just see the fruit of the action and think that a child is just being ‘difficult…. but there could be so much more to the story! Imagine how hard it would be if we couldn’t always verbalize our emotions (you can’t even rely on children who can talk to verbalize their feelings until they are much older).

I still wince and smile when people say, ‘Oh, what good girls you have‘.  Oh yes, thank you!  I know, they’re delightful (at the moment). But, what does that actually mean? I’m not sure how anyone could say a baby or young child is ‘easy‘ or not.  All kids come in their own flavors. They all have their own style. It’s up to parents and carers to accept a child as they are and not to label a kid as ‘good‘ or ‘bad‘, ‘easy‘ or ‘fussy‘.

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(if you find any typos, please let me know, late night blogging is bound to cause some error 😉

9 Responses »

  1. Kate, I love this! No, my babies weren’t “easy” – but I never liked that question either, “is he/she a good baby” – ummm yes, my baby is the best! 🙂

    Although Marisol challenged me to up my parenting game by responding to her needs – breastfeeding on demand, holding her a lot (using my wrap), eventually cosleeping – people always commented how HAPPY she was.

    I thought Gerry was “easier” at first… but I realized quickly that I was just parenting differently. Now I don’t think he’s easier – he’s more challenging in some ways, less in others, and unique. So I love how you wrap this one up!

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    • Glad you enjoyed! I don’t think any baby is easy or hard… maybe all just different. And, depending on how we, as parents have changed over time, then we perceive them differently as well!

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  2. Do we want to become mommies and daddies or execute a project? Babies are innocent, unaware minies of our selves. They are scared of everything the way we are in a foreign land and hence cling to mommies. And I think its perfectly fine. We give birth to babies coz we want to have kids, we wanna love them. And loving and caring as a parent is next to nothing in the world. Loved ones,whether kids or adults are not ‘easy’. Family and friends need physical, mental, emotional support all the time. If you don’t want to take the pain, stay alone. And this is actually ‘life’. As you explained characteristics of easy babies in the post above, if everyone taunts their babies for not being that, I think its unfair and mean. Maybe we don’t want to be parents in the real sense then, may be its like another tick in the box in the list of car, house, vacation, promotion, jewelry, kid. And Are we easy and good as adults to other adults? Are we always nice and kind to others? Our adult brains are developed enough to understand the importance of being good, but even when we can, are we?

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  3. I hate this question too! I always get that and I never really know what to say other than yes. Because in my mind, my son has been easy. If I’m holding him he’s happy 🙂 He won’t sleep by himself, he needs to nurse to sleep and he likes to be with me. But knowing those needs helps him and me when we work together.

    Great post!

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  4. I can not say I have thought about the question lots. Boston has his challenging moments (or let’s face it weeks) just like other bubs. I really love the comment “Loved ones,whether kids or adults are not ‘easy” . SO true! When we devote ourselves to another person completely the ride will always have it’s bumps, we are human after all, possibly the most extraordinary and the most messed up animal on the planet. Parenthood has taught me about unconditional love more then anything. Everything just exists and labels are only a mirror of our perceptions. Great food for thought Kate 🙂

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  5. This never really bothered me, but I totally see your point. I always love how most moms think their babe’s are easy–even if from the outside they may be more challenging than what you are used to. With my 3 they were all hugely different, and in different ways had me learning different things. One I learned a lot with 😉

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