1. Is he good?
The colloquial question asked to all new mums (usually by old people in M&S Cafe) but also by basically anyone who crosses your path and coo’s into your pram. It’s a new Mum right of passage – if you haven’t been asked this get your arse down to M&S Cafe.
But what is a ‘good’ baby? And more importantly what constitutes a ‘bad’ one? And what happens to the ‘bad’ babies? Is there a ‘bad’ baby jail? Can you put them back? Are they destined to a life of being broken? Do all the ‘bad’ babies get together and plot how to take down the world? I need answers!
I’m guessing a ‘good’ baby sleeps through the night, sits content, smiles at strangers and does everything they’re meant to do 24 hours a day. A good baby probably never projectile spews down their new outfit and then shits through the only replacement in your change bag. A good baby probably always allows you to eat your lunch, drink hot coffee and not have a full blown meltdown in the middle of Marks and Spencer’s Cafe (cue old ladies raising eyebrows at the ‘bad’ baby)
But here’s the thing NO baby is ‘good’ 24 hours a day 7 days a week and this type of throw away question adds an unnecessary pressure to new Mums. Babies cry. Babies have moments where they want to be cuddled, want to feed excessively. They have moments where sometimes it’s all a little too overwhelming and some days they will do everything in their power to leave you sleep deprived, frustrated, anxious and at breaking point – it doesn’t make them bad.
What annoys me about this question is if that Mum has been up all night with a teething baby or a baby that won’t settle, is fussing over his feeds or wants to be held all day this question does something that is fundamentally wrong – it makes that Mum doubt her own babies goodness. It makes that Mum think, shit have we created a wrong un’. It makes that Mum feel like shes’ failing in some way. “Why is my baby not good? What have I done wrong. Maybe I’ve held him too much?” That is not ok!
What to say instead – How’s he getting on? (And if that Mother chooses to tell you she has a ‘bad baby’ at least it’s on her terms!)
2. Does he sleep through the night?
Risky, very risky and I’d avoid asking at all costs. Here’s the thing, there are only really two answers to this questions. Yes or No.
If the answer is No that Mum is likely to want to punch you in your smug, well rested face right now.
What to say instead – I’d avoid at all lengths but if you really want to know then try -How much sleep are you getting?
3. Is he tired?
My first born used to give strangers the death stare. Cue them asking if he was tired. All the time. Erm no…it’s just his face! Initially I willed my stern faced little guy to crack a smile so that everyone would goo and gah at how lovely he was and how ‘good’ he was but after endless elevator trips where he continued to give Zoolander a run for his money with the best blue steel impersonation I gave up and just embraced my babies divine resting bitch face. Unless the baby is actively yawning or having an epic meltdown you are at risk of offending the parents by asking if their kid is tired – in my experience it’s usually just their face!
What to say instead – Don’t say anything – set yourself the challenge of trying to get the little person to crack a smile. If anything this will entertain the Mother and allow her to comment on his amazing resting bitch face! (note – don’t say this to old people in elevators, they don’t know what RBF is nor do they find it amusing when you try and explain it.)
4. You’re creating a rod for your own back
“Don’t hold him too much, don’t rock him, don’t use a Dummy, don’t make the room too dark, don’t use sounds or motion to sleep, don’t let them in your bed, don’t use TV to distract them…”
Because listen up Mama’s – “you’ll create a rod for your own back!” BULL SHIT! I did all of the above with my first born and all I created was a soothed, calm and happy baby who has (almost) out grown each one with little stress or fuss. Do what you need to do in those early months / years and don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for it.
What to say instead – You’re doing a great job!
5. When are you having another?
Firstly, I am always amazed by the interest in my biological clock from complete strangers (yes I have been asked this question more than once in the supermarket?!) but also I think we really ought to know better by now that questions about people’s reproductive plans are off limits. Both my babies were only weeks old when I was asked that question and to this day it baffles me why people are so interested. Do they have a genuine concern about global population size or are they just nosy AF?
What to say instead – Have you booked any nice holidays? …or any other small chat that fills your need to ask such a personal question!
6. Will you try for a Girl?
It seems that in today’s society you really can’t be happy unless you’ve managed to reproduce one of each sex. Would I like a Girl? Yeah I would actually. I’m a girly girl and always imagined I’d have one. Will I try for a Girl? Absolutely not! I love being a Mum of boys (and to answer above question will likely stop at two!) but even if I did decide I’d like to have a third child I would only do it because I wanted to have a third child, not a girl.
What to say instead – Can you see yourself having a big family? The Mum will then automatically say ‘yes, we’d love to try for a Girl’ if that’s her desire!
So there you have it. Annoying things that we all get asked. Standard questions that were asked to Mothers before me and will continue to be asked to new Mothers after me. I’m sure I could think of a million more but in short here’s my advice on some non-annoying ways to approach a new Mum –
1. Give them a compliment (but don’t lie – if they look like they haven’t slept in 76 hours they will be aware of this which will just highlight that you’re talking BS!).
2. Never mention sleep – the babies or theirs and especially not yours (unless you also have a baby or non sleeping child you are NOT fucking tired)
3. Tell them they’re doing a great job – we don’t praise our abilities as Mothers enough.
4. Buy the poor woman a coffee!