It is surprising how early you can come to understand your baby’s unique temperament and personality.
Sometimes, you may not know that you know it until later on. Like, when your son is in kindy and cries when you drop him off and you casually say to the teacher, “Oh, he’s always been clingy.” Or, maybe your 10 year old daughter is really good at sports and you can look back with confidence and say, “Oh yes, she used to kick hard even when she was still in my tummy! And she learned to crawl when she was only 5 months old. She’s always been really physical.”
As a mother, you are like a scientist.
Collecting tiny pieces of information about your baby until no one in the world knows more about your baby than you do. Constantly testing and adjusting your hypotheses as your baby grows and changes.
If the words intense, sensitive, insatiable or draining sound familiar then you may have what Dr William Sears calls a high needs baby. He says:
“Our first three children were relatively “easy” infants. They slept well and had a predictable feeding routine. Their needs were easy to identify—and satisfy. In fact, I began to suspect that parents in my pediatric practice who complained about their fussy babies were exaggerating. “What’s all the fuss about difficult babies?” I wondered.
Then came Hayden, our fourth, whose birth changed our lives.”
Baby Hayden inspired the book “The Fussy Baby”. And, I want to reassure you that if you have a ‘fussy baby’ too, it is not your fault.
Whilst it is certainly true that parenting goes a long way, it is also true that babies are born with a personality and temperament.
A calm mother may be shocked to have a baby who is easily overwhelmed and over stimulated, and seems to cry all the time. You might feel very responsible for your baby’s nature or feel judged by other mothers who attribute their babies’ calm, sleepy, easygoing nature to nurture, when in fact nature is exactly what it is.
As you get to know your baby you will find ways of being together that work for you, always balancing each other’s needs. You may be an introvert, but your extroverted baby wants to get out and about and be social all the time. You may like to go with the flow, but your baby has other ideas and decides that routine is the way to go.
Starting now, and for many, many years to come, you will need to make parenting decisions that take your baby’s individual temperament, developmental stage and vulnerability into account. What works for you, won’t work for other mothers.
And, what works for your baby, might not work with your future babies.
There are some things we know about parenting, that have been well researched and documented, and whenever I can, I will keep you up to date with the science. But, the vast majority of the decisions you will make as a parent will be entirely up to you and your baby.
You’ll make some decisions that you later decide to change. You’ll regret some of you choices. Other things you’ll get right away. Parenting is a constant learning process, with very few rules. The only rule, as always, is love conquers all. Make all of your decisions from a place of deep love for yourself and your baby and you can’t go wrong.