“Wow, he’s such a –er—content baby,” I commented to a friend recently, noticing that it didn’t bother him that he’d been left alone forever in his stroller seat. I almost said “good” baby, and catching myself and thinking about what I was actually saying got me to thinking in general on the topic.
We’re pretty good at slicing babies into a couple categories….good babies and bad babies. Good babies never cry, take minimal or no effort, and really aren’t much of an inconvenience to your life. Bad babies…well, let’s just say they rule your life for at least a little while. But really? Are babies actually bad? It’s not like it’s their goal and intent to inconvenience you, ruin your plans, and make your life frustrating. I don’t think a 3 month old wakes up devising ways to ruin your day. I don’t think a good baby is truly any more angelic than a “bad” baby, even if they allow you to carry on with your life.
So…I really prefer terms like “content” and “higher needs”. Because really, that’s what it is. It’s not a matter of a baby being “bad”…it’s simply that they really, truly, have higher needs than your average baby. They aren’t trying to make sure you get nothing done, they’re just conveying that they have important emotional and physical needs to be met by you.
And, unless I go over the deep end (not saying that won’t happen…but it’s not the plan, at least!), I’d never know if I had a “good” baby who would sit for hours by itself. I don’t want to know….I have no desire to take advantage of a more-content-than-average baby and neglect important emotional needs just because I can. I don’t want to “test” our kids and push them to their limits just to see what kind of freedom I can get from each one.
On the other hand, whether or not some of our babies are more content will be obvious. A high-needs baby is pretty unmistakable. And content babies don’t need quite as much as a high-needs baby, necessarily. There isn’t anything wrong with letting a content baby do some things that Viviana would never have done- like playing on the floor for 10 minutes. Each baby has individual needs, and a content baby might really enjoy and desire floor time that Vivi couldn’t handle and wasn’t interested in until she was fairly old. I just wouldn’t want to practically ignore said baby just because “hey, he’s content sitting over there by himself, so why should I ruin a good thing and ‘have’ to spend time with him when I could be getting such and such done?”
Content babies can be a blessing, especially in certain seasons of life….God knows what we need when He sends small packages our way! But so are high needs babies….Vivi brings so much joy every single day, and getting to spend all her waking minutes with her is a lot of fun. There’ve been harder seasons, but I’d never trade our Vivi-girl for an easy baby- she’s too great a blessing to us!
So….let’s not forget the blessing in each baby, whether content or high needs. Let’s not write some off as being “bad” simply because they’re babies with needs and don’t allow life to go forward as used to be normal. And let’s not enviously label some as “good” because they’re willing to play alone all day….it isn’t overly healthy for them anyway- and I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to loose so many hours a day with my baby just because he’s content.