Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Baby F.A.Q.

As long as we've had Jeb, Julie and I have heard how lucky we are to have such an "easy" baby. He slept really well, ate really well, and was just happy. He never fussed about car rides (including 10 hour drives to Nashville), or even doctors appointments. Of course the as soon as people would compliment us on our luck, they would declare that our next baby would be a nightmare. As if God is sitting up in Heaven dealing out babies by temperment.

All people are different, and since babies are in fact people, all babies are different too. However this does not mean that different babies are substansially different than others in the infant stage. Barring illness, they all need and want the same things.

After listening to this crap about how bad our next baby was going to be, you can imagine that I was secretly happy when I was told that Tiny E was a poor sleeper, and required a lot of attention.

The first couple days watching a 10 week old infant, and a nearly 2 year old toddler... were predictably rough. They both needed something at the same time... all the time! The second night though... I came to a realization. I was doing the same things I had seen these stressed out women do. I wasn't treating Tiny E like I had treated Jeb. He was crying so I was tending to him all the time. Not good.

I talked to my Mom, who happens to be God's Own Baby Tender. We worked out a plan, and what do you know? Tiny E is now perfectly happy to sit by himself in his swing or chair, he's learning to play by himself. He's taking 3 1.5 to 2 hour naps while he's here with me. In otherwords... so much for that "High Needs Baby" crap.

There's a cult out there that claims that some babies are just far more demanding than others. That randomly people get babies who refuse to sleep, refuse to go out in public, refuse to try new food, and refuse to ride in the car. These children spend their days and nights screaming their heads off unless they are getting 1 on 1 attention at all times.

Mothers of these kids have organized blogs and support groups on the net, where they get together and comiserate. They even developed slang, where they refer to "normal" babies, as "lumps". You know... they're just a lump. You can carry them around anywhere.

As the proud father of a "Lump" this is a little irritating.

The worst thing about all this to me is the fact that there is really nothing wrong with these kids at all. Yet to hear people talk about these kids, they're little demons. It's the mothers and fathers that are the problem. They simply are screwing up, and its a miracle these children are putting up with them at all. If these kids are bad at all its because they were made that way, by the very people who now complain. I wonder as well at how parents assume that babies don't know what you're saying. This is absolutely false. If you continually talk about what a bad kid your baby is, he will eventually turn into a bad kid.

Now... I know some of these folks that have these "high needs" babies. In some cases, I really believe it's not always the parents fault. I mean, if you don't know about babies, and you get horrible advice, well it won't be shocking when you end up with a frustrated baby! If there is really someone to blame, blame the pediatricians, and the past-generations who have apparently decided to stop using common sense. It amazes me that people raise their babies based on what the latest 'studies say', when they don't understand the studies at all. As if infants today are different than infants 20 years ago... or 200 years ago for that matter. Babies don't change people! Feed them, keep them warm, and love on them! That's it!

In the interest of helpin' those babies out... Here's the FAQ.

My baby only sleeps when I hold him! This is a common problem, and one you've probably created yourself. Despite the infinitely stupid advice you've been given by your idiot doctor, you and your baby do not share an internal themometer. You may be very warm, while your baby could be freezing. He's not sleeping when you hold him because he loves you. He's sleeping because he's finally warm. Babies have spent their whole lives in a 99 degree oven. You know what 73 degrees feels like to them? Right. A freezer. They hate being cold. You're baby should feel warm when you touch him. If he doesn't, he's cold and unhappy. Put him to sleep with at least 3 layers on, and many blankets.

My baby doesn't take naps! That's rediculous. I was recently told by a pediatrician that there is a normal sleep range for 9-10 week old infants that varies from 8 to 18 hours a day. What a load of crap. This is just the result of doctors not wanting to tell new mom's they're screwing up. Listen carefully: Your baby is a human. Humans sleep when tired. Make sure you're kid is tired, then make sure they're good and warm, then get them a nice full belly, then put them down. The little fella will go right to sleep, and he'll probably sleep for a couple hours.

My baby screams in the car! You've probably been carrying your baby around to much, and they've learned that that is normal. Being away from has become not normal, and babies really aren't that fond of not-normal, unless they've been taught that not-normal is ok. People who have babies on strict predictable schedules often find that their life is pretty easy, until that schedule changes. Then all hell breaks loose. The better option is to make the child operate on your schedule. Take them out often. Mess with them. They like it, once they realize it's ok.

As an addendum to the first to points, I should mention that you should NOT be sleeping with your baby in the bed with you. This is a dumb idea. It may be easy on you breast-feeding moms, but it's hard on your kid. They like their own bed. They like their own space, and when you finally do decide to kick them out of the bed with you, it's going to be hard on them. Besides... why would you expect the child to sleep during the day, alone, when at night they sleep for hours with you beside them?

Ok.. granted it's a short FAQ. But hey, babies eat and sleep. There's not a lot of variation here.

Questions are welcome.

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