Few things frustrate me more than being asked if I have a "good" baby. I know that most people are wondering if I have a baby who sleeps through the night/naps well, doesn't cry often, keeps himself entertained, etc. but it irks me that somehow my baby isn't "good" if he doesn't fit those parameters. Especially since those traits may make a baby more convenient, but they have nothing to do with how "good" of a person that baby is. Just because a baby might have more needs than another or is more expressive about those needs, it doesn't mean that baby is "bad." In fact, it just might be better to have a baby who is decidedly inconvenient and not "good."
1. Babies who aren't "good" wake up a lot . . . and that makes them less vulnerable to SIDS.
Babies are designed to wake up often for good reason. SIDS is actually related to a baby's inability to rouse easily or detect a build up of carbon dioxide in their blood. Now, the general mainstream medical consensus is that babies are safest on their backs in their own beds, but other medical experts have suggested that babies may be safest when with co-sleeping with their sober, non-smoking mothers. In fact, SIDS rates have continued to stay low despite a rise in safe co-sleeping. This might have to do with the increase in breastfeeding rates among co-sleeping mothers as much as anything else, but the fact remains that while "good" babies might let their mothers have more uninterrupted sleep, babies who aren't so good (or aren't good all the time) actually demonstrate that they have a good arousal instinct and that is a definite positive! Besides, there are sweet, snuggly times to be had when babies are awake, sleepily nursing, and snuggling with you that mamas of babies who sleep all the time, just don't get.
2. Babies who aren't "good" cry a lot . . . and that means they are attached enough to want to communicate and believe that you will respond to their cries.
We all know people who are more verbal about what is going on with them than others. Babies are just little people. So, some of them will cry more than others because some of them just have more they want to say. Some babies also just have more to communicate. No matter how much or how little your baby cries at night or during the day, it is good because your baby is communicating (even if it doesn't seem that way at two a.m.). The fact that your baby consistently is communicating with you about his or her needs is a positive thing. It proves that your baby trusts you enough to tell you about what's going on with her/him. By responding to your baby's cries, you are forming a trusting, attached relationship with your baby. This might not mean your baby stops crying right away or that your baby cries less, but it does mean that your baby believes that you are going to respond to his or her needs. When that baby grows up this will translate into words. For example, my eldest baby cried a lot, and now, when he is sick, he still talks a lot. He's just the kind of person who feels things very strongly and he needs to talk about his emotions to process them. Because of the relationship we've been forming since his very first newborn baby cries, we have a very open communication line and I hope that honest communication continues for years to come.
3. Babies who aren't "good" don't just lay/sit around and play with their toys . . . they are curious about their world and they want to explore it.
We've all had those moments when we've wanted to just put our babies down and have them keep themselves busy while we finish dinner/pick something up/whatever, and sometimes they may let us, but some babies mostly use that time to get into things, practice their crying communication with you, and generally cause a ruckus. However, these are all good things! A baby who isn't very interested in the world around them or who doesn't want to test that you will come running at least part of them time, is not a baby who is very interested in the outside world and that lack of curiosity probably isn't their best trait. I imagine that if we could interview the mothers of most of the world's greatest inventors, innovators, and entrepreneurs, we would probably discover that as babies and small children they were incredibly curious and often got themselves into some scrapes because of it. Whenever my sons are driving me crazy testing my communication line with them from the next room, I just remind myself that Pavlov's mother was probably his first and best test subject.
4. Babies who aren't "good" don't stay in their car seats all the time; they insist on being held/worn and seeing the world from a higher level.
Risks of leaving your baby in their car seats frequently and shopping with your baby in his/her car seat aside, babies who are not kept in their car seats all the time actually tend to do a little better because they are held more often and get worn in a carrier. In fact, God bless babies who aren't "good" all the time because they are the reason babywearing was invented and the benefits of babywearing are amazing. From heart rate/physiological benefits for newborns to social interactions/connections with toddlers, your babies are made to be in your arms or worn and nothing but good comes from it . ..even if it seems inconvenient for you and what you want to get done at times.
5. Babies who aren't "good" don't listen to what "they" tell you about parenting, they make you learn to listen to your heart and do more research.
You know who "they" are. "They" are the ones who were asking you whether or not your baby was "good" to begin with. "They" tell you you need to do XYZ to make your child into a convenient "good" baby or "they" will congratulate you when your baby doesn't cry or make a fuss, but give unsolicited advice when they do. Babies who aren't "good" don't give a flying fruit what they say and if you let them, they will teach you not to care, either. Babies who aren't "good" push you to examine who you are as a parent and as a person. They teach you to make real connections to them and they become the catalyst for you to learn more about them, parenting, and yourself as a person. Babies who aren't "good" push you to become better than you've ever been before and they teach you where your limitations are.
Babies who aren't "good" all the time are my favorite kind of babies!
Thank you for reading and kiss your "not good all the time" babies for me!