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To think that a lot of looking after a baby is just guesswork?

(28 Posts)
Moulesfrites Fri 27-May-11 08:59:18

Looking for some reassurance here, and also need to have a mil related rant.....

Ds is 18 weeks old. Most of the time when he is whinging I can figure out what is wrong - hungry, tired, wet, wind etc. But sometimes I can't. Sometimes he gets himself into a state, I try all manner of things to soothe him, then he calms down and I am unsure which, if any, of the things I tried made any difference, and so am left none the wiser about what was wrong. Is this normal? Or does it mean I dont know/haven't bonded with him well enough? (I feel I have bonded, he is amazing and I am tired but also loving motherhood).

It is my mil who has triggered these worries, I think, as she is always so absolutely certain what the problem is. Eg " obviously his teeth are bothering him...." etc? Really? How can she be so sure?

At the weekend I was bf ds, and at the minute he is getting really distracted during his daytime feeds, pulling off, looking around etc, and I explained this to mil. Not long after, he fell asleep. Then later on, I was feeding him again, and he was less distracted. Mil pipes up " he's feeding much better now, he was too tired to do it before. Well, um, I feed him to sleep every night so I don't get how he can be too tired to feed, but she was so smug and certain that she had correctly diagnosed the problem, as if she knows him better than I do!

So, is it normal to feel as if this is a guessing game most of the time? Will I get better at it? feeling my confidence has been knocked ATM.

5318008 Fri 27-May-11 09:04:54

It is a guessing game.

You can intuit what the baby's cues mean to a certain extent, not always, and what will soothe this morning might not this afternoon. ho hum grin

you are doing a great job

MIL being 'helpful' - my advice is not to tell her stuff so that she can't comment on it

have you tried a sturdy long necklace for bf? One can work with a distractable baby

5318008 Fri 27-May-11 09:08:40

PS I really didn't like my first experience of being a mother, I had come from a high powered job with folk running at a click of my finger, where I could say 'make it so' and it was; then along came the baby who didn't seem to understand this. I am joking of course but the shock of not being in control was very great and leaked into my confidence. On hindsight we did just fine but I know exactly what you mean about losing confidence

SmethwickBelle Fri 27-May-11 09:09:35

Ignore her, you know your baby better than she does, promise. Yes they are baffling and continue to be, but you begin to see and read cues that no one else does.

DS2 (a very baffling baby) was scrambling up the tall steps to a large slide by himself the other day (I was hovering to catch) and an older lady told me ominously "he'll cry at the bottom" as he teetered at the top. Of course then I am thinking "maybe I shouldn't let him... maybe he is too small..."

He flung himself down the slide in fits of giggles and scampered back round to the steps. You see I KNEW he liked big slides.

Don't get me started on old ladies and their obsession with other people's children being too hot/too cold....

JuicyLips Fri 27-May-11 09:11:36

Ignore mil I'd say, everyone like to think they know what is wrong, but it is mostly a guessing game. you do learn certain signs after a bit, but that comes after a while as baby is learning what they want and you learning what they do when they want that particular thing. again what 5318008 says what can sooth in the morning might not in the eve. just gotta do what you feel is right. (sounds like you're doing a good job though)

pinkhebe Fri 27-May-11 09:12:04

I never had a clue about my ds1 and his crying, all sounded the same to me. He's now a happy intellegent 11 year old (thank God!)

MerryMemoo Fri 27-May-11 09:13:51

I'm on baby number 3 and I still have no idea what is wrong with her at times, in fact sometimes I'm not sure she even knows herself. Sometimes babies just cry and the only thing to do is count to a thousand and ride it out.

SnuffleTurtle153 Fri 27-May-11 09:14:37

DS is nearly 11 weeks old and I never know what he wants, either. My mum said that mothers can always tell what their baby needs by the sound of their crying. Well, not me! We now have a system whereby when he's upset and there's nothing obviously wrong, he goes over the shoulder for a back rub; if that doesn't work he gets jiggled about and sung to; if that doesn't work he has some gripe water; if that doesn't work he gets teething gel rubbed on his gums (appears to be teething some days and fine others?!). Usually by that stage he's chilled out, but I'm never sure if it's because I hit on the right solution or he just got fed up/bored with me getting it wrong!

howabout Fri 27-May-11 09:15:36

It is a guessing game along the lines of getting to know you. All babies and all mothers are different so it stands to reason you have to work out your relationship together. Doesn't just apply to babyhood either (my mother and I are still working on it). Just remember the baby is just as likely to be wrong as you are!-after all what reasonable person would decide to cry all through your favourite TV programme and then conk out adorably when your MIL arrives to take over helpfully.

QueenofDreams Fri 27-May-11 09:15:53

It IS a guessing game. And if this is your first child you're new to all this and still learning. (that is not a criticism by the way) Don't let MIL make you feel bad/inadequate.

My experience of being a first time mum was absolutely appalling. Now that I've had DC2 I realise just what a difficult baby my DS was. However, in part my stress levels were higher because it was all so new and I was adjusting to this massive change in my life. With DC2 I've been a lot calmer and just more aware (from experience) that you don't always know what's bothering them and all you can do is try various different things in the hope of soothing them. Sounds like you're doing the right thing.

I suspect that your MIL is just trying (in rather cack-handed fashion) to be helpful/involved. My mum is terrible for it. At the slightest cry it's 'oh have you got a wind stuck oh let's get that wind out, what a nasty wind' hmm EVERYTHING is a sign of wind in her book.

SnuffleTurtle153 Fri 27-May-11 09:20:26

Also, I got all paranoid the other day that I wasn't playing with him 'right' and googled for advice websites. Found one that told me I should never ever leave baby on his own to play but must be with him, encouraging him, all day long; and that he needs to see me doing day to day things in order to be fully socialised. Apparently children who don't get this level of attention grow up to be insecure and do not fill their academic potential. So I spent whole day on the floor with him exclaiming with wild excitement every time he so much as twitched and dragged him about the house with me to show him 'This is how we put our knickers away', 'This is how we pick daddy's towel off the floor'. My usually sunny tempered son spent the morning giving me some seriously odd looks and the afternoon screaming his head off. That evening I tried to find same website for info about what to do if your child does not wish to be constantly prodded or fully socialised. Found a different one instead which told me I must leave DC to play on their own as this is essential to encourage their imagination and creativity to grow. Apparently children who don't get this grow up to be emotionally stunted and do not fulfil their academic potential.

I give up. Just do whatever feels right for the 2 of you, and stuff people and websites who are going to try and give you advice!

diddl Fri 27-May-11 09:20:38

Well,I don´t know your MIL or what she is like, but tbh, it sounds like oneupmanship tbh.

Generally nappy change, feeding, winding,cuddles, wanting attention.

And of course the thing that worked in the past doesn´t always workhmm

When my PFB had a bout of crying at night I couldn´t settle him at all-only my husbandconfused

Mine are teenagers & I´m still guessinggrin

natto Fri 27-May-11 09:25:03

I also think some babies are easier than others to read/ communicate their needs better. My first was highly strung, cried a lot due to wind, and would get 'overtired' so quickly. It was guess work a lot of the time! At the age of 4 he still occasionally wakes up in the night screaming for no obvious reason and will not settle easily. Our second child was and still is more of a textbook baby who pulled at his ear when tired, cue putting in his cot and he'd just go to sleep. If he wakes at night he says what's wrong eg he wants water or a cuddle, and goes back to sleep quickly. Life with two children was much easier than anticipated, and reassured me that it wasn't us being bad parents first time round!

yoshiLunk Fri 27-May-11 09:25:23

As others have said a lot of it is guesswork, but you get to realise that actually it is instinct too.

You will go through the whole routine and finally get a peaceful baby, and think that's it I've cracked it! This routine will work well for a certain period of time (set by your baby) and then baby will go and change things, you know, shake it up a little, just to keep you on your toes and you'll have to set about cracking a new dance grin

The fact that you say you're really enjoying motherhood means that you're doing great. Mothers, MiLs, sisters or friends who have already had children will want to work out how to sooth your baby before you do, they just do, - just say ' oh it might be that I suppose' and smile to yourself knowing that even if they are right for that moment, you are the one getting it right the rest of the time. wink

Bumfuzzle Fri 27-May-11 09:27:33

Oh god yes.

When I had my first, I had no clue what I was doing. None at all.

I had had more instructions come with my cd player!

IgnoringTheChildren Fri 27-May-11 10:03:55

Definitely guesswork, with a touch of instinct and getting to know your baby. And as yoshiLunk said, once you think you've got the baby worked out they'll change and you're back to square 1 again!

As far as MIL "knowing" what's up with your DS hmm She probably is just trying to be helpful and it's much easier to be confident about what the issue is when it's not your child! With my DS1 I received a lot of "helpful" and well-meaning advice about how he was clearly teething and what I should do, starting when he was about 3 months. MIL and others were quite baffled when the teeth didn't actually appear until he was 13 months! grin

DuelingFanjo Fri 27-May-11 10:06:27


I am envious of people who know the difference between cries and who can pin-point exactly what is wrong.

jeckadeck Fri 27-May-11 10:12:42

yes I think a lot of it is guesswork. Which makes it all the more annoying when random people come up to you in the street and -- based only on the fact that they once had a couple of kids themselves -- decide that they know what's best for your child and that if you ignore their advice you're a bad mother. Like the woman who unilaterally and without any preamble or by your leave decided to start undoing my dd's buggy in Boots one day because she decided that she was too hot.

bumperella Fri 27-May-11 10:34:16

When my 9 wk old cries, I try feeding, winding, nappy changing, cuddles, attention....then whatever is the opposite of what she was doing before she started crying. If it isn't any of those things then clearly the problem is that her invisible friend has upset her. See, I have great maternal instincts... smile

LaWeasel Fri 27-May-11 10:36:40

I think you're absolutely right.

Some people say they can tell the difference between different cries?! Those people are not me! I just went through the same checklist every single time she cried. Nappy? Boob? Erm... probably teeth?

It served me well!

tiddlerslate Fri 27-May-11 10:40:26

diddl "Mine are teenagers & I´m still guessing"

Just snorted tea out my nose laughing at that one.

WriterofDreams Fri 27-May-11 10:44:14

Yup total guesswork.

I find that people fuss with babies far too much. I know with DS that at times he's just crying cos he's a bit pissed off and in that circumstance I just hold him quietly until he calms down. Jiggling him, singing to him, etc just pisses him off more. Hence when we were staying with aunt in law he screamed for hours because she just would not leave him alone, kept jiggling him etc.

All I think is, if I'm feeling a bit shit, someone poking me and tossing me around would just make me feel more shit.

Family has always commented on how calm children are around me. That's cos I just leave them the fuck alone.

ExitPursuedByAKitten Fri 27-May-11 10:46:45

The whole parenting malarkey is guesswork imo. grin

lowra Fri 27-May-11 10:51:43


I have an 8 week old and I can't tell the difference between her cries either. Glad it's not just me wink

Quenelle Fri 27-May-11 10:55:14

Yep, it's guesswork. It's easy for your MIL to say it's this or that with such confidence, she doesn't have to put it to any practical test does she? Sounds like she's just being a know-all.

I could never 'read the signs' about whether DS was tired, or hungry, or teething, or poorly. I would just try a variety of things, usually involving boob, until he was happy or asleep.

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