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Newborns don't throw tantrums and they can't be 'bad'!!!!!

(44 Posts)
juulie Thu 29-Jan-15 22:55:20

Can I just take a moment to call out something really weird and inappropriate that people say to new Mums? I can barely get through a day without hearing the phrase 'Is she good?' at least once and this started happening virtually as soon as my daughter came out. What else would she be?

Even more disturbing is that professionals often say this and worse: one midwife said my daughter was having a 'girly tantrum' when she cried during a heel prick and advised me she was probably making a 'fuss' about having a poo when I asked advice about her crying inconsolably a lot at nights (which turned out to be colic).

The midwife was a nice lady actually and most of these people are nice and well meaning, but please don't attribute a tendency or ability to intentionally exaggerate, deceive or play up to my newly born baby! She does not throw tantrums or make a fuss. She just shows distress if she feels it. Please don't ask me to categorise her for you as 'good' or 'bad' either!

I know I know, it's short hand for how easy or hard it is looking after her and the person is taking an interest and probably doesn't really believe deep down that a tiny baby is evil, naughty or bad if it cries too much, but it's a weird and loaded habit that should be revised. How do people feel if they feel they have to answer that their baby is not 'good'???!!!

We shouldn't slap a value judgement on babies that mean they are only 'good' if they stay sufficiently quiet and sleep in a particular manner and quantity! You could probably just ask how she or I have been getting on or something. AIBU? Thank you!

ShadowSpiral Thu 29-Jan-15 23:38:36

Oh yes. This used to really annoy me too.

"Is he a good baby?" As if a tiny baby knows how to be bad. Asking if it's an easy baby would make much more sense.

GlitterKandinsky Thu 29-Jan-15 23:44:13

"Are they good" = "are they an easy baby"

Because if you've had more than one you know some are easier than others. Not better mind you, just er....easier. As in they feed and sleep well. That's all.

Mintyy Thu 29-Jan-15 23:44:39

I think you're over-thinking it tbh and the vast majority of sane people, including the professionals to which you refer, are fully aware that newborn babies aren't good or bad or having tantrums. It's just lazy shorthand.

QTPie Fri 30-Jan-15 23:44:08

Agree with the "over-thinking" and possibly "over-caring": they are just passing comment and trying to be friendly. Smile and move on.

StandoutMop Fri 30-Jan-15 23:48:19

Mil and her friends used to ask if mine were good and it made me so cross for all the reasons you give.

But I think tiredness and hormones and basically finding mil a bit trying all added to it. And now, 5+ years on, I find it hard to feel the same rage about it. So I do get what you are saying but maybe best to try to grin and bear it?

DeanKoontz Fri 30-Jan-15 23:51:42

I agree. "Is she good?" just used to throw me; I never developed a good answer to it.

WhyNotSmile Sat 31-Jan-15 05:36:32

I always found this a stand question too! He's not good or bad, he cries when he needs something and he stops when he doesn't!

Calling him "fussy" wouldn't have bothered me, though; I suppose I don't think of fussy as being a bad thing.

isitsnowingyet Sat 31-Jan-15 05:51:05

In all honesty I'd get over this quite quickly. You have a lifetime twenty years of cliches and stupid phrases ahead of you.

Congratulations on your DD though! flowers

dashoflime Sat 31-Jan-15 05:52:31

A special care nurse once described my baby as "good" because his blood sugars had remained stable for a few hours.
Even an adult has no way to control their own blood sugar- its physiologically impossible!
Mind you a nurse also commented positively on my figure while preparing me for a cesarian because my baby was dangerously underweight and didnt have enough ambiotic fluid. Me being slim was not exactly a good sign!

MarrogfromMars Sat 31-Jan-15 05:57:05

Yes it is annoying - because it turns a simple question "How are you finding it?" into something a bit weird and difficult to answer if you want to be polite but think the concept of babies being good and bad is bollocks. Also it seems to be linked to a mindset that you shouldn't cuddle babies too much, they should learn to be 'good' and lie in their baskets.

Thumbwitch Sat 31-Jan-15 06:00:32

Who are you calling it out to? confused

But yes, YANBU to be annoyed by the suggestion that newborns can tantrum or be bad, of course they can't, they are operating on a survival basis and can only respond to their internal and external conditions. Very sensible of them if you ask me! grin

DrankSangriaInThePark Sat 31-Jan-15 06:44:12

It's just making small talk innit?

But don't worry, when Junior is 3 and having the screaming abdabs in Tesco and no-one says anything to you at all, just walks straight ahead, you can start another thread about how horrible people are for not making conversation with you.

As others have said, good=sleeps/eats/poos without trauma.

That's all.

Eminybob Sat 31-Jan-15 07:12:52

I just reply "yes he's perfect"

They can take that to mean he sleeps through the night (he doesn't) or he doesn't cry (actually he rarely does) or whatever they want. To me my baby is good, regardless of whether or not he conforms to their idea of "good" or not.

Iwouldgoout Sat 31-Jan-15 07:21:06

OP you are quite right it's a very odd and old fashioned concept the 'good' and 'bad' baby. I found this very hard to answer too as it seemed such a depressing idea. And my DC had awful colic! Just wanted to say good luck with that part. It will pass!

squizita Sat 31-Jan-15 13:23:45

I grin and tell them with me and dh as parents they're lucky she's not running a major crime ring out of her jumparoo ... but she eats twice a night, no fuss no colic if that was what they meant.

mondaymadness Sat 31-Jan-15 13:27:56

I had someone tell me repeatedly that small babies are crafty, just because they like to be carried, cuddled and fed! Worryingly she is a child minder.

outtahell Sat 31-Jan-15 14:40:43

My SFIL would not stop saying my DS was being "spoilt" always being cuddled when he was just days/weeks old. It was presented as semi-jokey but definitely "advice", but I could really have done without it when I was in the grips of what I think was PPD.

Besides, so what if it gets a child "used to" being comforted by their parents - I want my children to expect me to comfort them, all children should be able to expect that. I wish my parents were the sort I could call when I'm upset.

redcaryellowcar Sat 31-Jan-15 14:52:17

I answer "is he a good baby?" With "yes, he's fantastic fun, smiles a lot, thinks his big brother is awesome but doesn't much like sleep" which is usually sufficiently detailed to prevent further questions.

Cooroo Sat 31-Jan-15 14:55:43

Only read the OP sorry, but I could have posted exactly that 18 years ago. My baby was the definition of goodness, whether she cried or was silent, slept or waked. I arbitrarily set 2 as the age when any behaviour could conceivably be described as wilfully naughty. It annoyed me although I knew it's just an expression.

Micah Sat 31-Jan-15 14:59:51

My mother told everyone who would listen that dd was "going to be a good baby". In the first few days of her life.

I cringed every time she said it. For the reasons cited by o/p, and also because she was hours old, how on earth could you

Micah Sat 31-Jan-15 15:01:25


...predict such a tiny baby's future.

Surely enough within a week she developed severe reflux and was very hard work for the next 10 months.

Justnapping Sat 31-Jan-15 15:16:02

This used to really upset/annoy me when my DS was a baby as he was a rubbish sleeper who cried and was sick all the time (but still my baby so 100% perfect to me!) so I didn't know how to answer!! So I agree with you - v annoying!!

juulie Sat 31-Jan-15 18:17:28

Thanks guys for all your thoughts. Glad that some of you feel the same. I take the points on sensitivity / overthinking. You're right it's not worth losing sleep or getting upset over. I did say I got what people meant and that their intentions were usually good. There again it can still be a bit disturbing at the time.

It's the underlying concept and the culture of unhelpful labelling that really bothers me though rather than the individuals concerned, who I did say were nice people.

I do think that the idea of good / bad babies is insensitive and under-thought. I don't think it's entirely harmless. The idea of labelling children of any age as good or bad isn't great, when it would probably be better to talk about good and bad behaviour if anything. Applied to babies it's especially silly and it can cause unnecessary offence, worry, irritation or distress to parents and children (e.g. children being told they were bad babies or that their sibling was good and they weren't so much).

Yes new mums including me may be extra sensitive, particularly to comments and questions about their babies, but that's all the more reason for the convention to change to take account of this as well as common sense.

It would be nice to think that the 'good' question would stop being the norm because people had thought about it and realised it was actually daft and unhelpful, especially when they are well meaning. People flagging it up and discussing it might help that to happen little by little as well as being an outlet for those who are bothered by it.

We are here to chat so I think it's valid to bring it up whether IBU or not!

PoppySausage Sat 31-Jan-15 18:33:32

I knew what people meant when they asked it but I still couldn't stand it.

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