The saying ‘if I had a pound’ comes to mind when I think of the amount of people who have asked if Tilly is a good baby since she was born in July. The is she good question is right up there with how much did she weigh, how does she sleep and what’s her name on the list of questions strangers feel the need to ask when you’re out and about with your new baby. I don’t mind talking to you about my baby, if you want to know her name and ask me if she looks more like me or my husband then that’s fine but, please, don’t ask me if she is ‘good’. What is a good baby? Is it a baby who sleeps well? A baby who doesn’t cry? A baby who is content constantly? If that’s the case then no, no I don’t have a good baby. So, by default does that mean my baby is bad? She’s just turned six months old, she’s not good or bad, she’s just a baby behaving like babies do: not sleeping very well, screaming in my face and demanding a feed at very regular intervals. I would appreciate, as would so many other new parents I’m sure, if people could refrain from asking if I have a ‘good baby’ (whatever that is) and asked me something else instead.
5 things to ask instead of ‘is she a good baby?’.
1.How are you doing? – Because seriously, everyone treats you like a queen when you are pregnant but how you are is the last thing on anyone’s mind when there is a cute baby to coo over. If you stop a new mum in the street to admire her baby, just politely check in with her too. A bit of kindness from a stranger can go a long way when you’re hormonal and exhausted.
2.Are you coping ok with the lack of sleep? – Again, focus on the mum, see if she’s managing ok. Don’t ask if her baby sleeps, especially if she’s out with a newborn, because most babies don’t sleep. Suggesting to a new mum that her baby should be sleeping can bring up all kinds of anxieties and feelings that she’s doing something wrong.
3.Can I do anything to help? – Don’t be patronising, but gently offer to help if you see a mum struggling when she’s out with her baby. Offer to hold a door open while she navigates the pram through, pick up the dummy you’ve just seen her baby launch at the floor, let her pop in front of you in the shop queue if her baby is screaming Tesco’s down. Anything. Don’t just look on while a mum is clearly in need of an extra pair of hands because you can bet she will go home feeling like no one cares and wishing there was more kindness in the world.
4.Do you know you’re doing a great job? – How AMAZING would it be if people said this to new parents, especially on one of those really tough days when they feel like they are failing at mum life? It doesn’t matter if the you have never seen the mum before, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know that they forgot to change the baby before they left the house or had to feed their child smushed up chips for lunch because they’ve run out of baby food..just to hear the words ‘you’re doing a great job’ can really turn someone’s day around and give them a much needed confidence boost.
5.Coffee? Cake? A hug? – Ok, this is less for strangers and more for the people who have a loved one who’s recently had a baby. Give that new mama some TLC please people! Everyone just wants to know about the baby but let her know that she still matters too. Show your friend/daughter/niece/whoever that you are still interested in them, that you still want to spend time with them and not just the baby. And we all know cake and a cuppa and the answer to all life’s problems anyway! Make a mummy feel loved, don’t make her feel judged by trying to discover if her baby is good or not.
There are so many other things you can ask a new mum or talk about with her that do not involve you trying to find out if she has this mythical ‘good baby’ or not. Is she good, it’s a stupid question that is so not needed. I know most people ask it with only good intentions or curiosity but shall we make a pledge to get a bit more creative with our conversation starters when chatting with parents and just ask something else instead?
So, is Tilly a good baby? Who knows! All I know is that to me she is the most perfect daughter I could ever had wished for.
What do you think of the question, ‘is she/he a good baby?’? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.