Normal is a loaded word. What is normal? I have no idea. The impression some parenting books give of normal baby behaviour is vastly different to what any of my normal babies acted like and it was a little disconcerting. But here are five things that babies who are perfectly normal, healthy and parented by amazing people (doing all the right things) do. That said, it may be normal, but it can be exhausting! There is a suggestion or two on how to cope.
(1) They want to be held. A lot. You aren’t spoiling. They aren’t manipulating. Babies thrive on touch.
How do you cope? Get a great sling. Then you can do crazy, selfish things- like eat!
(2) They want to eat. A lot. A breastfed baby may want to breastfeed 20+ times a day. As long as there are enough wet nappies, your supply probably isn’t to blame- but if you’re worried call ABA anyway. They’re experts at reassurance and fact. In Australia the free call number is 1800 mum 2 mum – 1800 686 268.
How do you cope? Learn to breastfeed lying down and then nap as much as possible. Learn to breastfeed in your sling. Talk to other Mums about it and find out that it’s totally normal and as long as you’re getting enough rest and are OK with it, it’s fine.
(3) They don’t always take to sleeping in a cot. Or a bed sometimes, either. It’s not your poor parenting skills. It’s not a devastating lack of independence from the baby. They sometimes like a warm space that smells comforting: you.
How do you cope? In a nutshell: what works best in your family? During the day, the carrier can be a lifesaver- several hours of daily nap-time frustration GONE! During the night, some families bed share safely. Some families prefer to take it in turns to settle the baby into a separate sleeping space. Either is fine as long as everyone is happy.
(4) They don’t sleep through the night… for a really long time. Everyone has a friend whose baby slept through the night at six weeks old. Feel free to be totally, crazy jealous- because it’s normal for them not to sleep through the night for the first year or longer. It’s not because you’re not doing it “right”. It’s because baby is growing and developing normally. Sigh.
How do you cope? Complain about it loudly- to anyone who’ll listen supportively without trying to tell you it’s because you’re not doing it right! See (3).
(5) They don’t always take to other people- including Grandma! It’s normal for a baby to have a strong and clearly-defined preference for their primary caregiver. They will eventually grow out of their separation anxiety, but some perfectly normal babies take their own sweet time doing it.
How do you cope? Take comfort in the fact that you’re supporting your baby’s path to emotional independence… it’s not you, it’s them. There’s nothing wrong with listening to their cues on this one. Putting baby in your sling or carrier in a social situation can help them observe other people without others attempting to remove baby from your arms. Baby feels safe and comfortable and can bond with others without anxiety.
Do you have a normal baby? What “normal” things did your baby do that didn’t feature in your parenting books?