My baby is good. This means she doesn’t cause much trouble, or cry often, or demand much attention. She smiles big for everyone and takes a bottle or breast easily. We sleep soundly through the night.
Strangers ask me if she is good. I wonder how deep this goes, for babies who are “bad” (read: needful), to be labeled as such from their infancy – but I doubt anybody answers “No.” We might say, “well, we’ve had some ear infections,” or “naptime has been hard,” but we don’t say, “No, she’s bad; she’s a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad baby.”
“Of course they are good,” we say, “they are mine.”
When they cry all day, refuse to sleep, scream and storm, we know they just need some time. We may worry about it, worry it to death, but more than anything we’re overcome with compassion. Our fragile little strangers! Our babies, our selves!
It’s only this compassion that makes her my good baby, because in another context, she might be considered a very bad baby indeed.
My good baby sleeps through the night – curled up next to me so she can nurse continuously and I can feed her without having to be fully awake. She can also sleep next to her more independent big sibling for a couple hours. Against a standard of sleeping all night in her own crib, she fails.
My good baby can often be comforted very quickly – because we unapologetically and liberally use pacifiers. (That is, until the chupies go home.) Against a standard of being able to self-soothe, she fails.
My good baby doesn’t fuss very much – because she hardly gets put down. We’re avid babywearers because we have to be. Engaging with Toddler would be really difficult if we couldn’t give Baby a hands-free ride. She gets that good proprioceptive input, chills out and looks around while we [prepare food / play with Toddler / water the garden]; we get a good baby. Against a standard of playing quietly alone for long periods of time, she fails.
My sweet baby is good as any human is good, and as sinful as that, too. She won’t be a Bad Baby regardless of what develops. She’s learning, she’s working hard at this human thing, and she’s doing fine.
Seriously, don’t ask this question. Here’s some further reading.