Its something that seems so simple – yet is a revelation to parents.
This fact: – some babies are just easier than others – and an essay of just that title is sending waves of relief through parents around the world.
If you’ve had one of those difficult babies, if you’ve ever wondered why, if you’ve ever looked at your other children, or your sister’s children and thought why me, why now, what am I doing wrong this time.. then this one is for you.
If you'd told me to read this when I just had my first son I wouldn't have known what you meant. He was my "easy" baby lucky me right?
I remember when I was told I was having my second boy I though great easy days.
How different could one baby be from the other I thought. I know what to do with boy babies.
Funny how wrong we can be isn’t it?
What’s that phrase chalk and cheese? You could apply that to my two sons (though lets go with permanent marker and Babybel).
While the first never slept he also never cried - he was just awake. In fact I remember clearly one of the only times he cried for a substantial period of time - he was about six-week-old and it was about an hour.
I thought oh, that’s what a crying baby is like.
Then my beautiful second son was born and he came out crying.
He then cried, and screamed, and arched and bellowed for the next 12-months. To one specialist it was reflux; to another it was possibly his hips. He had scans and was put on two different types of medication but he still cried. I wondered what I was doing wrong, what I was eating that was wrong, was I too loud, too quiet, too stimulating, not stimulating enough. Was it the type of nappies I used, the type of solids he ate. Was it my fault?
By the time he had his first birthday I had come to accept that was just who he was. It was wearing and exhausting and all encompassing but by then I’d worked out a few methods to soothe him – mainly involving me holding him – and I just did what I did.
But there was a necessary acceptance of sorts. My baby cried and I was enslaved to it until he stopped.
American paediatrician Perri Klass recently wrote about this for The New York Times in an article titled “Some babies are just easier than others” reminding us that sometimes no matter how hard we look for answers it just is what it is.
Dr Klass says “As every parent and teacher knows all too well — you can’t possibly make child A into child B. You work with the temperament you’re given — it’s the assignment. And some assignments are harder than others.”
Her article has been greeted with relief from many parents desperate for an explanation as to why their beloved, wonderful baby can be just so damn hard.
One parent writing: "Thank you so much for this article. This piece is a necessary counterweight to all "the answers" all over the Internet and in parenting books (and coming from the doctor's office). None of my three children have been "good" sleepers, but our oldest was by far the hardest."
Dr Klass explains “The hardest thing to teach, especially to people who haven’t yet done any child-rearing, is how different those healthy, normal babies can be, right from the beginning.”
What she says is that all babies are different and what medical professionals and parents need to accept is that sometimes those differences can’t be explained.
“Within the range of developmentally normal children, some parents have a much, much harder job than others: more drudge work, less gratification, more public shaming. It sometimes feels like the great undiscussed secret of paediatrics — and of parenting. Babies and children are different, assignments are different, and we spend a lot of time patting ourselves on the back — as parents and as paediatricians — when the easy babies and toddlers behave like themselves, and a lot of time agonizing and assigning blame when the more difficult kids run true to form.”
Her advice is to “You work with the temperament you’re given — it’s the assignment. And some assignments are harder than others.
She writes of the torment, the anguish the whys that she has heard:
“I have had a mother explain to me why one twin was the angel child and the other the devil child. And then she started to cry. I have had a father ask me if I ever knew a couple to get divorced because their baby didn’t sleep through the night. And sure, some of those struggles reflect parental practices and habits and the way those children have been reared and how their parents reacted to earlier iterations of the behaviour. But ask any parent who has brought up two children of wildly different temperaments — some of it is just the kid you get dealt.”
My second child stopped crying around the time his baby sister was born. As fate would have it he passed the mantle on to her.
By then I had come to the conclusion that there was bugger all I could do about it except try the best I could and hope that the universe will pay me back cause surely a difficult baby equates to an easy teenager.