The Fussy Baby Site

Labeling Our Babies

I don’t want to use words too soon about a baby, other than, ‘Gee, they’re really telling us they have needs, and how can we meet those needs?’. –Linda Budd

Before your baby was born, you probably had warm, positive feelings toward him. You and your partner dreamed about what he would be like, and all the experiences you would be able to share together. Taking long walks with the stroller on sunny days, lazing around the house just enjoying one another’s company, and getting your little one all dressed up and showing him off to friends.

And now here you are: You feel like a walking zombie, existing on 3-4 hours of broken sleep a night. You dread feeding time, worrying your baby will cry through yet another meal. The dreams of taking your little one out and showing him off are almost laughable. Taking your screaming, red-faced baby out into public isn’t your idea of a good time.

Why We Label Our Babies

If you can relate to any of the above, you may use words like the ones below to describe your baby:

  • Fussy
  • Difficult
  • High maintenance
  • High Need
  • Demanding

Obviously, we often use these terms for lack of a better way to describe a very real set of behaviours or characteristics. Even throughout this site, I find myself using these terms, some frequently.

Using these terms not only gives us a way to explain our baby’s behaviour, but it can help us feel validated as parents and maybe just a little bit….not crazy. By telling someone our baby is ‘fussy’, we not only eliminate the need to go into all the details (eg. My baby cries a lot, hates sleeping, and generally is just a whole lot of work), but we take some of the responsibility off ourselves (eg. My baby is just fussy, it’s not that I’m a bad parent).

While it is understandable why we use these labels, and is maybe even necessary at times, In the interviews I have conducted for this site, one point that was stressed often was the danger of labeling our babies.

’Fussy Baby’ is very descriptive of what happens, but I think it’s also important to recognize that behind that fussiness is a keen sensitivity, and perceptiveness, and a finely tuned arousal system. I call them the kids with a Lamborghini engine inside of them. I think it’s very important that we have that vision; this is not a flawed baby. This is a finely tuned human being; like a finely tuned Lamborghini, it takes a little more skill, they accelerate more quickly, but in the long term, the ride’s a lot more fun. – Mary Sheedy Kurcinka