the legend of the “good” baby

You’ve heard the stories, but sometimes you wonder if people are just telling them to make a show of themselves. You may not believe they exist, but in the back of your mind you’re fairly certain they’re out there. And if you’re a true believe, every confirmed sighting gives you a sense of eternal hope. Well friends, I’d like to share with you that they do exist. And they’re just as wonderful and amazing as you’d imagine. There’s no reason to doubt their existence as myth. I’m talking, of course, about the elusive “good” baby.
Now the legend of the good baby is most frequently brought up during casual mom warfare at the park, during pick-up at daycare, at a baby shower, or perhaps just in coffee shop conversation. It starts innocently with one mom mentioning how “good” her child’s sleep patterns are, or perhaps how they rarely cry. The other mother either responds in kind with a report on their good baby or, not knowing what this parent is speaking of, rolls her eyes in a fit of rage. Sometimes it’s the truth, sometimes it’s a tall tale to provide some self-satisfaction in an crazy world. No one ever knows for certain except those that live in the same household. But the end result is this: people doubt the sincerity of the story and believe the “good” baby legend to be a myth perpetuated to make you think motherhood just ain’t all that bad.
And in turn, the other side of the story is heard loud and clear. The one about the not-so-good babies. The babies that make you question your ability to raise a child or why you became a mom in the first place. And the ones that serve as powerful birth control for those waiting in the aisles. They are the babies that make you tougher, stronger and better as a woman. And perhaps, when you’re pregnant, you’ll prepare yourself for all of those crazy and wild stories and to say goodbye to the semi-sane life that you had before. That’s what I did. But then it didn’t happen.
You see, Baby M is a “good” baby. And it’s by no means due to any single thing that Mr. M or I have done. Everyday at daycare, they share what a “good” day she had. They raved about how “good” of a teether she was, since no one even suspected that she had teeth popping through. Our friends talk about how “good” she is when we take her out to a later dinner with us. Her grandparents say it incessantly when they’re visiting. And each time we say, “Thank you. She is really really good.” And she is legendary in that respect. When other moms ask me about her, I often recoil and try to share very little, because I don’t want to seem like I’m bragging or creating a myth. And I follow it up with a meek-ish, “She’s just a really really good baby.” Then I back away or stop talking. Or I share a sympathetic story about the one time of day when she goes absolutely mad crazy — hungry time. That’s when she loses all sanity, starts screaming and wailing and acts like we haven’t fed her in 3 weeks. That usually gets me some points in conversation, but rarely many.
So why am I sharing this random fact of knowledge? Because I want to let you know, in pure honesty, that babies can be good. They can sleep all night just as easily as they can wake up every hour. For every horror story there’s a non-story in another household. They can be a vacation just as easily as they can be a battle. And the only way to find out is to go through it yourself. It just makes me so sad to hear comments from women who run away from children because they think that’s the only shape/form that they come in. And I think the negativity has run rampant lately in the mommy-world… and it’s not better for it.
I know many people respect mommy bloggers for being brutally honest (hi Mandy & Jenna) about their experiences… and I wanted to be the same way with you today. I don’t blog/tweet/share a lot about the little baby things with you here, because honestly, I fear the eye-rolls from people who don’t know me. I’m not a “sunshine and lollipops” person when it comes to being a Mom, but I don’t have any horror stories to share here or battles that have been waged. Baby M has been a “good” baby and we’re thankful every day for being blessed with sleep and smiles and calm. It makes parenting much less of a job and more of a treat. And while preparing yourself for the hurricane is always a great plan, know that you might just end up with rainbows in the end.


  • Amber

    The funny thing is, to me at least, that Piper was a good baby. Most of the time she’s a GREAT baby. We had no idea she was teething, either, then one sharp tip poked through. She hasn’t really been a great sleeper, though. She STTN for a few months then started teething without the tooth to show for it a few weeks ago (after tooth one popped up), and woke up all night. Whatever, I figured. She’s a hellion when it comes to anyone other than her fantastic four of people she lets touch her (seriously).

    But, she smiles when she wakes, laughs when she crawls and even in the middle of the night will clap when she’s crying for me to pick her up. She’s sweet to people who don’t touch her, and at least ten times a day Paul and I say, “God, I love her.”

    What kills me, though, is how good she *used* to be at other things, but as of late has maybe grown out of? I dunno, really. She was wonderful in restaurants, we’d get compliments on her from our table neighbors. Then, a month ago, it changed. She became the screamer, the tosser of all that her hands come into contact with, and the kicker. She used to LOOOOVE solids, but lately has been kicking up a fuss no matter what item she’s eating. Then there’s the sleep thing, which I can deal with most of the time.

    I bet some people really do have good babies and they stay that way, or, in my case, what used to be a good baby has turned into a devilish (with a rueful grin that stops your heart) “cruiser” now able to get into more things and is constantly told “no”, so she’s crabbier at not being allowed to do things?

    I hope this doesn’t come off as “You’ll see”, because I totally agree with you, there are wonderful “good” babies who are always smiling and never upset. I had one, and I want her back! To be honest, she’s a GREAT baby 90% of the time, when not tired, teething or eating solids. :)

    • kimberly michelle

      Oh don’t worry… I still am not expecting anything less than a pothole to jump out at any time. :) I don’t expect her disposition to stay the same all the time and I know it will evolve with her. I just wanted to share some hope out there, especially the people who are scared of not making it few those early months. Gosh knows everything from here on out is 1000x harder ;)

  • Laura

    Thank you so much for posting this. I am one of those women that you mentioned, the ones that are scared of having a baby because of all the horror stories. I have to admit that in the past I have thought to myself “Man, she (you) really have it all together, maybe the whole baby thing isn’t an over the top, scary experience”. I’m sure at times it has that feeling but you have given me hope, especially with this post, that it all just might be possible. And the fact that you DON’T post exclusively about baby stuff gives me hope that maybe I won’t lose every shred of myself (and interests) if I do have a child.

  • Layla

    My mom has always said that I was a great baby, and she had two others to compare me to. Likewise, my mother in law says the same about my husband. I’m hopeful we’ll end up with good babies (sleep through the night, no tantrums, mild mannered, etc). But who knows? It’s good to know they’re out there. Most of my friends complain about their children so incessantly, I sometimes wonder if they really do exist. Thanks for confirming that they do!

  • Amber

    No, I think in some cases, the babies are never bad. I honestly thing the home plays a big part in it, too. We’re a very mellow family with a roving dog, so Piper is mellow and loves to roam around, too. I think Miss M will likely be a treat to parent!

    And if you get bashed for this, I’ll be pissed, it’s not like you’re claiming your six month old is already walking and says “mama”. ;)

  • Disgruntled Julie

    Unfortunately, like you said, the one way to know is to go through it yourself. If only there was a return feature on the screamers (kidding) (mostly)! I tend to find that the biggest phobia of parenting is the “what if” — if we could have a child that would sleep several hours at a time during the night, no problem! But if we have a child that is up every hour… well… when we’re already each working 80 hours/week and exhausted and cranky as is… we can’t help but wonder if it’s worth taking that risk!

  • Aubrey @ My Simple Everyday

    Thank you for this post… No baby yet (TTC), but I have been worried about all the horror stories out there, and I never believe it when other moms talk about how perfect their babies are… But I trust you, and I believe you when you say they do exist out there! I just hope we’re as lucky as you and This Dad to have one!

    I dunno though… I was quite the screamer as a baby.

  • HamiHarri

    Me! Me! Me! I have one of those “good” babies too! Although, I don’t think any baby is really a “bad” baby ;P Hubby likes to attribute it to his parenting style (*laugh*), as my SIL (his sister) has two adorable, but VERY challenging babies…and he calls her a stress case, so *of course* her kids are stressed and “high needs.”

    When our baby girl was only a few weeks old and hubby was bragging about what a dream baby she is (he still does this by the way), that same SIL totally gave me “you’ll see” lectures…and that the honeymoon would end. I call BS on that. Sure, there will be challenges and frustrations…but I can’t see her doing a total 180 on us either.

    Anyway, I give full credit to our baby girl. She is the way she is, because that’s just the way she is! My doctor told hubs that a baby’s disposition is 60% nature and 40% nurture ;)

    I have to admit, that I was sooooo curious as to what “type” of baby you guys had… If you feel comfortable, you need to SHARE more about her! Even if it’s just for nosey nellies like me ;)

  • Julie

    Great post! Brayden is also a good baby! Slept through the night at 7 weeks and never looked back. It makes people sick. But at the same time, I just don’t know what I am doing “right”. I just go with my gut!

    They do exist! :)

  • ep

    I have no problem saying that L is a good baby. But I had C first, and though I love him more than breath, he was tough baby, 0-6 months. But then a good baby from 6-12 months, and a naughty personified after the age of one.

    I think every baby has their moments…after all C was an angel in restaurants under 1, and L screams bloody murder.

    Go figure.

  • Nani

    Thank you so much for posting this. I have been holding my breath from talking about my daughters behaviour because she was what was considered a “good” baby or an “easy” baby. I won’t lie. She was. But I had geared up for all the trouble because of the stories I heard and felt kind of guilty when they didn’t.

    Now.. well she is another story, the vocals have been found and the independence (but yet so clingy to me) has begun. She is still shyer than most kids her age but right now my ears can’t tell.

  • TikiBird

    I am so thankful that you have had such a great newborn experience! I hope you enjoy all of Lena’s babyhood just as much.

    While I totally would not want to rain on anyone’s parade, I do make a point to tell every new mom and dad I know that I personally found the newborn time to be far and away the hardest (at least so far). When Henry was so little and it was so rough, I really wish someone had told us, “It will get better.”

    Whether you’ve got a high-needs child or a mellow one, I know there are ups and downs. I think if you’re in a “down” moment, it helps to know you’re not alone and that, like every other stage of childhood, it too will pass.

  • Kelly | Glamour This

    Since Mavi was born people were always like “wow he’s a good baby, he’s strong, quiet and so alert” this was from day one. Even the nurse said “baby boy knows how to latch on” so ya, I never had issues with breastfeeding, i actually found it easy. (but I don’t say it… because I don’t want other mommies to be like “pfff! ya, whaterver”
    Of course he cried… (from being hungry, diaper change or tummy ache) but ya, he’s a good baby, and I am so grateful because I wasn’t.

    He’s only 6 weeks old and has been sleeping 6.5 + hours a night so I’d like to think thats good…I was talking with a lady at the mall who her son was 2 days younger than Mavi and was still waking up ever 2 hours. Wow, yay Mavi!

    Now I won’t take away that having a newborn is hard. And yup I had a breakdown. I cried and oh so happy my mom is around (literally 2 mins away by walk). I can only imagine what it’s like for people with little or no help… or with mothers with multiples or even single moms.

    But I get it. You don’t want to say you have a good baby… because of the eyes rolling. I think that goes with everything though. If you have an easy pregnancy, if you lost weight easily, if you have a good baby, even if you DON’T breastfeed.

    I would say… don’t be afraid to say she’s a good baby. I mean it’s rewarding even if you “don’t know what you did” to have a good baby. People will judge, roll their eyes and what not. So might as well them a reason to do it. ;) kidding. lol

  • shortie

    I’m always afraid I’m jinxing myself if I talk about how good of a baby our daughter is. She’s been sleeping through the night since the first week (6-7 hours), and only fusses if she’s hungry – and her fussiness is her going “eh eh eh – WAH” once and waving her hands. Mostly just waving her hands emphatically. If she opens and closes her fists while pumping them up and down, it means boobies. And..that’s it. I feel blessed, but keep wondering when the other shoe will drop!

  • Ellie

    Speaking as one who “ran away from” children, I think it’s safe to say that a woman’s decision to be childfree is informed by many, many more factors than whether or not a baby can be well-behaved/easy to care for.

    To say that you’re “sad” for them implies they need or justify your pity. That’s pretty condescending, don’t you think? Especially since women who decline the choice to procreate are WELL aware of what we’re missing. Hence the choice.

    • kimberly michelle

      Just to requote my exact “sadness” in context: “It just makes me so sad to hear comments from women who run away from children because they think that’s the only shape/form that they come in.” That would mean, that I (Kimberly) am SAD (as in the emotion… I’m also SAD when I see people in Letters to the Editor write vehemently against a topic using the wrong facts) when people say that they don’t want kids because kids are a pain in the ass. I don’t pity their choice. I’m just sad that they’re making a monumental decision based on hearsay from one segment of the population.
      Now I’m not ignorant at all of the fact that there are couples who decide to be childfree for other huge reasons. I didn’t broach that topic at all. I just said I’m sad when I hear people speak of children as monsters based purely on the fact that other moms have described their kids as such, and have thus shaped the form of their opinions in a negative way.
      I have no problem with childless women/couples, if that’s what you think I’m implying as we have lots of friends who are child-free both by choice and by nature. My comment here, and the entire blog entry, isn’t addressed to people who have made an informed choice based on actual fact. It was to those who don’t know that kids can be good.

  • Ellie

    Fair enough. I bristled at your use of “sad” because I inferred, incorrectly, that you were expressing pity. Now I understand that you’re not; that you feel genuine sadness at the idea of a woman foregoing motherhood due only to her perception of the negative gains.

    And I agree! I don’t think a woman should choose to be childfree based solely on second-hand horror stories of “bad” babies.

    Happily, it’s been my experience and observation that all of the childfree women I know have chosen to be so after factoring in the net gains, as well. In other words, they’re NOT just making a knee-jerk decision to skip parenthood based on anecdotal evidence of others’ (poor) experience. They’re making the choice based on the positives of a childfree life.

    Apparently, your milage has varied. Apparently, you’ve come across people who, I guess, are in dental of the fact that kids can be good. People who decided not to be parents ONLY out of fear they’ll have one of those dreaded “bad” babies.

    I believe any reason a woman decides to be childfree is OK – it’s her reason. And the subjective validity of those reasons have no emotional impact on me, personally speaking. Sadness doesn’t play into it, for me.

    But I would agree that it’s a shame. Any woman faced with the monumental decision of whether or not to procreate would best by herself to look not just at what she’s “running away from” as you put it…but what she’s running toward, as well.

    Thanks for taking the time to clarify your thoughts; hopefully I did the same!

  • Jenna

    Of course you wrote this fantastic post when I have no internet, and I couldn’t quite articulate my thoughts on the iphone (or at least do my comment justice).

    I have to agree with the commenter above who said that perception of whether a baby is good or not seems to depend on the interpretation of what a “good” baby is by the parents. Case in point? TH always talks about what a nightmare T1 is, and how hard it is to be a parent. I’m always saying “He’s such a sweetheart and such a good happy baby”. Of course this one isolated example makes it sound like TH hates being a dad and thinks it’s awful, which is not true, but in the context of how people interpret what kind of baby they have we have two parents experiencing the same child coming away with drastically different conclusions.

    On another note, I too tend to shy away from any pronouncements that could be interpreted as me bragging about my child. The best example is found whenever comments on the strength of T1’s legs. His legs are incredibly strong and I have no doubt that he will be standing and walking rather early. But whenever someone says that they think he looks strong, I respond by bringing up something negative about him. What is that? Good thing my poor baby doesn’t know what his idiot mother is saying about him.

    This post was a nice reminder that it’s okay for me to be proud of the things my son is good at.

    And I also hope that it helps more women see that having a baby isn’t a nightmare. I admit to having a few cloudy days, and once or twice a thunderstorm or two, but I agree, it is mostly rainbows and sunshine. (And I’m getting super cheesy with the metaphors over here aren’t I?!?!)

  • tracey

    i have one of those ‘good’ babies too and i don’t like broadcasting this fact either. i gets lots of dirty looks and eye rolls .. as in how CAN a baby be good all.the.time. truth is, she is a good baby – we took her on a cross country flight and no one complained about her and even when she was awake, people gave us smiles aka thank you for having a good baby on this 6 1/2 hr flight ! the report from daycare daily is that she was good – maybe it’s my mantra to her as i leave to eat well/sleep well/play well and she follows my directions or maybe it’s her temperment.

    i feel so out of place when i hear moms talk about how their kid STILL doesn’t sleep through the night or how naptime HAS to be at home and i say a silent prayer that my lil wonder started sttn at 8 wks and can nap literally ANYWHERE (she napped in her stroller b/t the washington monument and the lincoln memorial, she napped in the loud noisy busy smithsonian).

    kim – i hear ya .. we certainly are blessed to have a special breed of kids !

  • Teresa

    SO…we’ve finally started talking and thinking about starting a family and knowing how good an eater Miss L is, I was on the prowl through your archives to see if you all had done baby-led weaning or anything like that to lead to her super flexible and adventurous eating habits. I didn’t find anything in my quick browse, but found this. I just wanted to say that I have so many friends who give me their unvarnished cautionary tales (and I appreciate it because I fully want to make this choice with both eyes wide open!), but finding this post and seeing how adorable and happy your family has been over these past 5 years–it makes me really REALLY want that. Anyways, so I just wanted to thank you for talking about (and showing me on IG) all the sunshine and rainbows that starting a family can be!