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Knowing your child

(47 Posts)
aliphil Wed 24-Oct-12 21:41:47

Everything I've read and been told says that by ten weeks, you know your child well enough to be able to work out what she needs and what her cries mean and so on, at least some of the time. But I don't. I love DD more than I can say, but I don't feel that I know her at all. I can't tell what she wants at any given time. That makes me feel guilty and very, very frightened. How would I even know if something was seriously wrong? People say, "Oh, you'd know," which is really irritating. How would I know?

LynetteScavo Wed 24-Oct-12 21:49:38

Your post has given me huge food for thought.

Personally, I always knew exactly what my babies needed..even the one I didn't bond with for a long time.

My DS has aspergers. I don't think he would know what different baby cries would mean.

You should not feel guilty! But I can understand why you might feel frightened.

There are other signs you can look for, apart from crying, and the amount of time they cry for, even if you try winding/feeding/changing nappy will give you a good indication.

You've survived weeks, so you can't be that

aliphil Wed 24-Oct-12 22:05:04

Trouble is I am very short on self-confidence and end up second-guessing her and myself half the time. It didn't help that right after she had her first immunisations DH had to go away for a few days and I was having many wobbles about how I would know if she developed a fever. (Yes, we have a thermometer. I just have no confidence in my ability to use it correctly, or indeed to spot when I need to use it.)

I am in total awe of your ability to know what your babies needed. needs a trophy smiley

pictish Wed 24-Oct-12 22:09:33

ali - I could've written that post when ds1 was 10 weeks old. I too fretted that I didn't 'know' my own child...that I didn't know what his different cries meant.
Here's the hindsight, I did know, and as time went on I got better at it, and I was fine. I had simply set myself an impossible standard to begin with.
I let it just come naturally with my consequent babies and never worried about it.

Startailoforangeandgold Wed 24-Oct-12 22:21:27

DDs are 14 and 12 years I still don't what their cries, squeaks and grumps mean.

DD2 is partially difficult to fathom.

LynetteScavo Wed 24-Oct-12 22:23:26

aliphil, do you have your mum/relatives near by to call on if you are really unsure?

If you baby looks fine, and isn't crying, she probably is fine! smile That is why they cry- to let you know something is wrong.

Is she in any sort of a routine? It may be worth getting her into one know, so you know if she is due to be tired/hungry etc.

I assure you you can use a thermometer correctly (if you can post on MN you can use a thermometer!).

Bigwheel Wed 24-Oct-12 22:23:40

I remember reading that by 10 weeks you know your babies cry. Well I didn't with either of mine and at the time was quite upset by it and thought I must be doing something wrong. I don't think I was, they are now 2 and 5 and I still don't always know what they want, it's all a guessing game really isn't it, and a long process of elimation! I'm sure your a great mum, don't feel bad just enjoy your baby being so small x

BertieBotts Wed 24-Oct-12 22:24:28

I think it's rubbish that "everyone" knows their babies by 10 weeks! Have the authors of these books met every single parent?

I think the "If there was something wrong you'd know" thing is true, though - I always used to worry that DS felt hot etc, take his temperature, worry that the thermometer was wrong, etc. The first time he did get a temperature I didn't even need the thermometer - he felt physically hot, not warm, uncomfortable to touch hot. It was obvious, and I didn't have that half should I worry, should I not kind of feeling, it was so out of the ordinary that I just knew. Same when their cry is "wrong" - I know it sounds scary when people say you'd just know, but honestly, you would.

Also, I think it's impossible to really know exactly what they want every time they cry that early on, I don't think they really know themselves... they don't know the difference between all those different funny feelings in their tummy that could be hunger, wind, bit of indigestion, poo, anything. Every situation is new to them and things that we would never even notice because we take for granted can be overwhelming.

As long as you're there for her with lots of cuddles and you give her lots of opportunity to feed and sleep and keep her as clean and comfortable as you can (bearing in mind you won't always know what comfortable is for her!) then you're doing fine, you don't need to do anything more.

Pancakeflipper Wed 24-Oct-12 22:30:09

I didn't know my children at 10 weeks old. In fact I didn't know my DS2 until he was about 18 months old.
Don't put pressure on yourself -just take each day and you build up confidence.

rumbelina Wed 24-Oct-12 22:30:20

It's bollocks. I spent too much time worrying, like you, because I didn't know what each cry meant and I kept reading "you'll know". I felt like a failure and what a waste of energy that was. Do not feel guilty about this at all. Sometimes you just have to try a few different things, sometimes you get it wrong, doesn't matter. I have a fantastic relationship with ds now 2 and it doesn't matter one jot that I couldn't accurately state why he was crying every time at 3 months.

Don't put too much pressure on yourself. Your confidence will grow naturally but my god its hard not to be hard on yourself.

Chubfuddler Wed 24-Oct-12 22:33:17

By ten weeks I could tell the difference in dc2's cries but not dc1. Just run through a checklist:

1) dirty/wet nappy?
2) hungry?
3) wind?
4) needs to be cuddled?
5) needs to be put down to sleep?
6) too hot/cold?
7) bored?

If none seem to help start from the top again.

lljkk Wed 24-Oct-12 22:33:57

I'm another one who just stumbled around in the dark guessing at what they wanted. Had a list at the ready & learnt to move very swiftly thru the options until baby was happy. Eventually by 4th child I could sometimes kind of tell some cries apart (pain vs. hysteria vs. fury).

Don't put pressure on yourself. They don't come with manuals.

lljkk Wed 24-Oct-12 22:34:21

Snap @ Chubfuddler. grin

BobbysBeardOfWonder Wed 24-Oct-12 22:35:29

I read on here shortly after my DD was born, to have a 5-point checklist if your baby cries:

Or something like that! So most of the time their crying will be the first 1-3 reasons, that's why people come to know what the different cries are like. Keep trying different solutions til you get it solved smile
It will get easier smile

BobbysBeardOfWonder Wed 24-Oct-12 22:35:56

X post chubfuddler smile

RubyrooUK Wed 24-Oct-12 22:42:08

I was clueless at 10 weeks. Am still sometimes clueless and DS is two. And I think we are very close and affectionate.

Today he cried as if he was in terrible pain because I didn't realise that I hadn't noticed he was playing a highly important game hiding a cracker under a train ticket and failed to join in. confused

Follow the checklist, check temperature and so on. But don't feel too bad - sometimes I think DS cries and even he's not sure what's wrong, so god knows how anyone could guess at 10 weeks old.

legoballoon Wed 24-Oct-12 22:42:55

You wouldn't know. A ten week old baby's cries might mean: I've pooped, I'm hungry, I'm teething, I'm bored... etc.

I found it helped me to run through a checklist in my head, and I was also compulsive obsessive about knowing when they'd last eaten/drank/shat/slept etc. I just felt that I'd then be able to make a more accurate guess of what they wanted. I also fed on demand, which often just shut them up, offering comfort or food, or both).

Even when they are 18months - 2.5 years (i.e. before they can verbalise their feelings and physical needs with some sort of accuracy), you still have to second guess whether it's just over tiredness or an ear infection etc. and you will still sometimes get it wrong. But you'll often get it right.

Re. the thermometer, if you can get a digital ear thermometer, they are quite handy - easier to use on a wriggly baby or child. If the temperature is over the guide (I still have to check, but take it 3 times in both ears (as one can be warmer if they've been lying on that side) and take an average. If it is over 37.8c - I think - then administer meds as instructed on the packaging (not sure what the doses are for very small babies, you'd need to check). If you are ever really worried, i.e. floppy, shallow breathing, unresponsive, then take to A&E or call the ambulance. This doesn't happen very often, so don't fret - you'll cross that bridge if ever you have to come to it. As a rule though, I always keep calpol and ibuprofen at home, in the store cupboard.

Don't read the silly books or articles if they make you feel inadequate or guilty. Come to MN, and be told to pour yourself a G&T and go easy on yourself. It's hard enough work already without feeling guilty all the time!

AngelDog Wed 24-Oct-12 23:12:14

I didn't understand DS at 10 weeks. Nor at 20 weeks. In hindsight I understand what he was often trying to tell me though.

QTPie Wed 24-Oct-12 23:13:38

Goodness me, no... I don't even think most babies know themselves by 10 weeks! And, to be honest, children change.... Every time I thnk that I know DS, he changes (just to keep me on the hop!). DS is now 2 years 9 months and is currently transitioning from toddler to child (noticeably more aware of himself and surroundings and noticeably fighting for more control, of everything).

I am afraid that I cheated, for quite some time... I did listen to DS, and watched his patterns, early on, but I used those to develop a routine. I would say that from abut 4/5 weeks until about a year he very rarely cried: his needs (hungry, sleep, changes etc) were met proactively (ie he was well fed, not overtired and rarely dirty/wet). I wasn't on edge: I followed his routine, I gave him time and affection, he was a happy baby. Obviously the routine changes over time. Then you keep an eye fr anything out of the ordinary.

Once they get towards a year it gets harder: they develop more "personal preferences"/wants in addition to needs.

I think that there is a balance with childcare: yes you do watch for cues and things, but you can also lead the way too. If you feel helpless, then maybe take a bit more control?

Yes babies can get ill (and you do need to be vigilant), but you would be surprised that many many many are absolutely fine. Don't worry unduly about illness. You will know when they are in pain and he usual hangs wont work to pacify them.

In ear thermometers are good. Maybe ask the HV/GP to demonstrate?


BooBumpDaddyandMe Wed 24-Oct-12 23:38:53

Nope, I had no idea, moreover have no idea when I stopped having no idea? My 18 mo ds still occasionally cries like his legs have been broken over the loss of a book or being told "no" to something, had he done the same at 10 weeks old I'd have been in floods of tears and half way to A&E.
Do your checks, def invest in an ear therometer & just be aware of what is normal/different for YOUR baby. Best thing I've learnt is to go by the baby not the book. I phoned the hv terribly upset to ask whether I should take ds to A&E because his temp was over 38.4 & she asked me why on earth I would want to do that - the book I was following as gospel said that a temp over 38 in an infant required immediate medical attention. A layer less and the fan on did the trick btw. My instincts were right when ds had meningitis, I had no clue it was that of course but I knew he wasn't himself.
I'm still not 100% happy trusting my instincts in case I'm wrong - such a big responsibility - but I think generally as Mothers we are pretty tuned in, whether we are confident of that or not.

SwimmingLikeADuck Wed 24-Oct-12 23:45:04

It took me aaages to work out what tue cries meant, far longer then 10 weeks. I bloody loved it when she started talking and I could just ask what was wrong! Im sure you're doing just fine smile

JustSpidero Wed 24-Oct-12 23:56:59

What a load of tosh! That might be true for some people, and that's great.

Personally I was too busy struggling with undiagnosed PND and a 24/7 desire to take a long run off a short pier when my DD was 10 weeks old to have a clue what her cries meant.

That said, it will come eventually - my DD is now 8 and fantastic and I 'get' her more than probably anyone else in the world and vice versa (which can be a bit blush!)

I also find I'm not bad at interpreting random babies cries (I come into contact with a fair few newborns through my work).

It is all about confidence and experience and like anything else in life it takes different lengths of time for different people. All this putting timescales on everything is utter bollocks and totally unhelpful imho.

Inneedofbrandy Thu 25-Oct-12 00:03:26

If something was ever really seriously wrong with your baby it wouldn't have the strength to full on cry. Saying that I didn't realised dd broke her little finger for a few hours I thought she was milking the attention and sent her to make her bed! She was 5 then!

aliphil Thu 25-Oct-12 00:20:16

Thank you everyone, I feel better about it now. I think it hasn't helped that DH kept going away for a few days to study (he's on sabbatical) and I got very frightened about having sole responsibility for a baby. No family nearby, unfortunately. We have had Words, and he isn't going next week and we are going to try and work out something better. (DD and I could go with him, but I don't know anyone there, and because of the days he needs to go it would mean missing the groups I want to get into the habit of going to.)

I looked at getting an ear thermometer but was shock at the price. It now occurs to me that might be a good thing to spend DD's Boots vouchers on. smile

DD isn't in a routine and I have no clue how to get her into one; if there's a pattern developing (another thing they say in the dreaded books!) I can't see it. Or maybe it gets obscured because e.g. if we're going somewhere I feed her before we go rather than waiting until she screams which might be halfway up the motorway! I keep thinking I should institute proper nap-times at least, but she doesn't sleep much during the day and mostly only if held.

JustSpidero Thu 25-Oct-12 00:30:37

I never really did routine with my DD. I intended to - Lord knows why as I've never been able to get myself in one - but we were in hospital for a week, then there were visitors, then there was colic and PND, and she didn't really do daytime naps regularly until she was 5-6 months old, but which time I was back at work and routine was totally impossible as she was looked after by a combination of both (very different) nana's and DH when I wasn't around.

Again, it all levelled out and slotted more or less into place eventually. I think in some ways not having a strict routine can be a good thing. It makes life easier for you (unless you really love routines yourself I guess) and makes for a more flexible child in my experience, although I'm sure other people's are different.

The only thing we ever had established was a bath/bed routine, which kept me sane if I was having a tough day, and eventually as she got older everything else largely fell into place (as much as it ever will under my roof anyway grin )!

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