"Is she a good baby?" - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-13-2010, 03:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I never even knew that this question existed until I was pregnant and a friend told me people were going to ask if my baby was "good"... I am still baffled everytime I get the question (not often, and always by women my mother's generation). They mean, does she sleep well I guess?
The receptionist at my dentist's office asked the other day "Is she good?" and I just didn't even know what to say. Um, yes, she's good, she's only 4 months old! She hasn't exactly stolen the keys to the car yet
What do you say when people ask this? And, if they mean "is she sleeping through the night"... well, how do you define that at 4 months? DD generally only wakes to nurse and is genuinely hungry, so I would count that as sleeping through the night, since I"m not going to try to "train" her to go back to sleep hungry.
??
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Old 08-13-2010, 03:50 PM
 
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I have only been asked that once, and I was so surprised I just said, "yes, she's a good baby." I think they mean does your baby cry when put down or is she easy to leave alone. I have decided that next time I will just say, "all babies are good" or something.

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Old 08-13-2010, 03:54 PM
 
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I understand where you're coming from (regarding the "good" vs. "bad" thing), but I think this phrase has been around for as long as the hills. I know that people said it in my grandmother's generation (we're talking early 1900s), and I think it was often used in connection with whether or not the baby was fussy, slept well, etc. I never really took that phrase too seriously. In fact, I remember my own mother saying about my sister's second child: "She's such a good baby." She meant that the second child was so much easier for my sister than her first. Perhaps in the old days, a "good" baby came out of the womb cupping a lotus flower in one hand and anything less than that was a "difficult" baby.

When people asked me that, I just said: "She's great!"

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Old 08-13-2010, 03:56 PM
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I liked to say, "No, you should see her rap sheet! She's headed for juvie" just to throw the ridiculousness of the question out there I never wanted to get into a full on discussion about what makes a "good" baby in their opinions and how unreasonable that is and how I try to enjoy my baby no matter what, etc etc... ugh I dislike that question.

I would also say sweet things, depending on the person... like "She's just perfect" or "good as gold!" or something vague like that, that doesn't confirm the whole "my baby never cries and sleeps just when I want her to" thing.
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Old 08-13-2010, 03:57 PM
 
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I know what you mean, like you or the baby has any control over how the baby behaves.

What I find even more aggravating is mentioning to someone that maybe Ben didn't sleep last night and getting a response of "how terrible, (otherbaby) is so good, she hardly ever cries." As if my baby is a dud, and the babies are already competing when they're four months old. Not crying is not a virtue.

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Old 08-13-2010, 04:02 PM
 
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I totally get what you are saying. Bothers me sometimes. I would say of course, he's a baby to that question when DS was little. Then they would ask if he slept through the night and I would say nope. I always felt a need to clarify that it was okay if he didn't, or that wasn't my goal right now. Eventually I just said, yes he sttn just to avoid the conversation. That being said, DD is a 'good' baby. I never knew they could be this 'easy'. I thought DS was great as a baby, then I had DD and she is just 'perfect'. I really try hard not to use all those words though, especially in front of DS.

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Old 08-13-2010, 04:03 PM
 
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I either reply, "Yes" or "Of course!" and give her a kiss.

If the issue gets pressed, I usually make it a point to say, "All babies are good babies." That puts some on the defensive and others just agree and stop talking.

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Old 08-13-2010, 04:05 PM
 
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My standard answer has been something like "Oh goodness she is NOT a good baby! She mugged an old woman yesterday just a week after robbing a bank! All of her friends are crackheads who come and eat all the good cereal at my house!"

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Old 08-13-2010, 04:06 PM
 
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I sometimes used to reply with, "there are no bad babies, but dd/ds is a challenging/easy baby". DS2 was very much what people meant by a "good" baby, but I always called him "easy" (because, as babies go, he was), usually with an added "this is cheating". That one caught up with me, as he's been, by far, the most challenging since he started walking...

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Old 08-13-2010, 04:11 PM
 
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I don't get "Is she good" as much as I get "Is she a good sleeper". When I get that one, I say, "Between naps during the day and at night, we get enough sleep."

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Old 08-13-2010, 04:11 PM
 
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this question drives me nuts too - it's always about sleeping through the night when i hear it. as if there must be something horribly wrong with the baby or my parenting skills if i can't get him to sleep for 15 hours straight.

my standard reply is "all babies are good babies" the person usually says, oh, yes, all babies are wonderful and then tells me about their kids/grandkids whatever.

but it is sad how often i hear "pfft! they are NOT all good, my baby was a rotten baby"

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Old 08-13-2010, 04:12 PM
 
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This question is odd to me as well. For most people I think it's out of habit and they're inquiring about the baby's disposition/sleep habits etc.

I usually just make a joke and say something like, "Well, we don't want to send him/her back yet..." or "He/she doesn't have a job yet but we're working on it..."

Most people laugh and it steers the discussion somewhere else besides my baby's sleeping/eating/fussing habits. I don't like discussing things like that at length because then people just end up giving me advice that I didn't ask for and do not want.

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Old 08-13-2010, 04:16 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by becca_howell View Post
I don't get "Is she good" as much as I get "Is she a good sleeper".
My answer for that one is usually "She sleeps like a baby!" Most people seem to assume that means the baby sleeps a lot... what I mean is she wakes every two hours!

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Old 08-13-2010, 04:30 PM
 
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I know, it's weird, and I always think, 'what's a bad baby?' And how sad for the 'bad baby' that it's mother thinks it's bad!

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Old 08-13-2010, 04:32 PM
 
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It's a generational thing. I think they are asking, is she high-needs or low-needs?

If you have not been around a lot of babies, it is hard to compare. But some babies cry constantly with colic. Others will not be set down. Others eat constantly. Some just... don't sleep.

And their moms may have tried every elimination diet in the book and babywear etc. etc. and baby still cries.

So that is what they are asking.

A nice answer is, "She's wonderful!" or "All babies are wonderful!"

The woman with the colicky baby behind you might scream, though. LOL.

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Old 08-13-2010, 04:34 PM
 
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DD1 was colicky, and I went through absolute hell, even with dh there 24/7 to help. (The first couple weeks, while still in serious recovery from the c-section, were the worst.) I get what they're asking. I still really dislike the phrasing. DD1 was challenging...very, very challenging. But, she wasn't "bad", yk?

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Old 08-13-2010, 04:41 PM
 
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I always have potential daycare parents tell me "He's a good baby".

"as opposed to kidnapping a bus full of school children???"

But, I know what they mean. I have one three month old now who's VERRRRRY good. But, his brother was the kind who wanted to make sure everybody knew he was there. And sometimes it felt like he was purposely trying to make me earn my money.
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Old 08-13-2010, 05:10 PM
 
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I always say, "he's a beloved baby" and kiss the top of his head.
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Old 08-13-2010, 06:35 PM
 
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Yeah, I think it's force of habit, especially for the older generation. I just give a big grin and say, "Yes, she is," when asked that question.

The sleep one also comes up constantly. "Does she sleep at night?" I just say yes to that one too, because for her developmental age, Cecilia's 5-6 hour block at night is a great stretch to go without waking up. So I'm being totally truthful even though it's probably not what they mean.

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Old 08-13-2010, 06:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeah, I pretty much do the same as everyone on here says... sometimes say " of course! She's the best!", sometimes say, "there's no such thing as a 'bad' baby", etc. When they ask about sleeping through the night, I say she's a good sleeper (true) but doesn't like to nap because there's too much going on.
It just drives me nuts because they can see what a sweet, fun baby she is, AND there's that element of, no one wants a bummer answer. Even if you had a colicky, difficult baby, you can't really say "no, I am having a horrible time, she's so high needs." It's like when people say, "how are you doing today?" and you can't really get into "I have a headache and I didn't get enough to eat and bla bla bla". You just have to go "fine."
I have the same complaint about when people ask, "did you have an easy labor?". Well... no... but I don't necessarily want to get into my traumatic birth with my dental hygienist!
I know it's human nature, and I try to just roll with it, but it sure baffles me to be asked if an infant is "good" or not!
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Old 08-13-2010, 06:51 PM
 
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I usually reply with "Yes, he's a very easy baby," because I do know that's what they mean, but I don't want to repeat/reinforce the good baby thing.

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Old 08-13-2010, 06:57 PM
 
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You're right about the reinforcing thing. I have to ask repeatedly of my in-laws not to call her a "good girl" when she does something cute or whatever. I don't want her ever to think that she is only "good" when she responds to other people's whims.

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Old 08-13-2010, 06:59 PM
 
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People are definitely just using a scripted line to try to make conversation. My standard answer? "Well, she hasn't knocked over a liquor store yet!"

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Old 08-13-2010, 07:08 PM
 
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Responses I'm currently gestating along with the baby:

-Well, she'd stink as a CPA but as a baby she's good.

-I thought I had seen partying and binge drinking before he got here. You have no idea...

-Oh, yes! He can already play Beethoven's 5th flawlessly. Good? No, he's great!

-We've already had two interviews with Time for making her person of the year.

I agree that it is a bizarre question.

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Old 08-13-2010, 07:20 PM
 
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I get it, a "good" baby is low needs, a "bad" baby is high needs. It's generational and nothing to read into, it's just a phrase. Yes it's stupid, but so are a lot of things people say to new parents.

FWIW my SIL's DD2 was a "bad" baby, she SCREAMED for literally 6 months, SIL did everything, elimination diet, carry, yada, yada, yada.....I really think my niece hated being a baby. She's always been a much better kid.

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Old 08-13-2010, 07:58 PM
 
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You just described my nephew to a T. He was the hardest, most exhausting baby until he learned to crawl at 5-6 months. Then it was like a night and day difference. He's also now at 5 the sweetest, kindest boy ever. He just sucked at being a tiny baby.

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Old 08-13-2010, 08:07 PM
 
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Originally Posted by annettemarie View Post
People are definitely just using a scripted line to try to make conversation.
Yup.

Then they'll move onto size, hair (or lack of), sleep etc.
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Old 08-13-2010, 09:10 PM
 
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Anyone who would seriously ask me a question like that doesn't want a truthful answer. I just say yes, I love her dearly and that's the end of that. For people who really care about what our experience has been, they either already know because we are close, or our conversation gradually meanders around to the information they are curious about without asking such a broad silly question about whether my baby is "good."

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Old 08-13-2010, 09:33 PM
 
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I dislike that term also-good baby.
It's probably a term from the era of Dr. Luther Emmett Holt and John B. Watson.
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Old 08-13-2010, 09:38 PM
 
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"He's a zombie baby! Beware! Bwahahaha!"

Yeah, I came up with different things to say to people, all implying that my child was the spawn of satan or some other force of evil.

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