I have been pondering this question. As the mother of a newborn I get asked the big question "Do you have a good baby?" a lot. When we are out in public and people see Matthew contentedly sleeping in his carrier or my arms I am told what a "good" baby he is. This past weekend we were at my brother-in-law's conformation. Total strangers came up to me at the end of the service to tell me what a "good" baby I have.
I know the first question is a thinly veiled question about how much Matthew sleeps and how much/little he cries. I usually brush that question off, generously rounding up the consecutive hours every night that he sleeps. I don't mention how little I get done around the house sometimes because I am too busy cuddling my boy. My boy is happiest in my arms and experience has taught me that if I tell some people that I am just setting myself up for scolding about how I am spoiling my boy and how I should let him cry.
The second comment got me thinking. Of course Matthew is a good baby. He is cute and sweet-smelling and cuddly. The fact his is good has nothing to do with how quiet he was during that particular church service or any other time I have been at a gathering where he has been content and quiet.
I try to feed Matthew just before we go anywhere and start out with a fresh diaper. This is a no-brainer. Usually the walk or drive over to our destination is enough to lull my full and dry baby to sleep. We start our outing out on a good foot that way. As soon as we reach our destination I automatically scope out possible spots to quietly nurse Matthew if the need arises. I choose where to sit based on how I can discreetly leave if I need to. I then spend our outing with one eye and ear cocked in the direction of my baby. We have been nursing buddies long enough now I know when he needs to be rocked or if he is really hungry long before he needs to become hysterical. Usually I am out of the room and have him latched on before anyone can look up. I know that mothers who are reading this are not thinking I have come up with any great insights here. This is what we all do, insinctively with our babies.
My point is, perhaps we should reframe that comment. Instead of going up to a mother with a happy and content baby and telling her what a good baby she has, I think it is time we tell that woman what a good mother she is.
By the same token, if a mother is holding a hysterical baby try going up to her and telling her the same thing--sincerely. While you are at it, hold the door for her, and offer to help her with her grocery bags or stroller or whatever else she is juggling while her good baby is expressing himself.