Raising a good baby

Happy and healthy. That's all we say we want for our babies in life.

Except me.
I also want him to be a good person. A genuinely good person. Maybe that's asking too much, but that's what I want, and I'm pretty sure a baby can't teach himself that.

I've noticed there are two types of children. There's the stunningly polite, calm, well-spoken child who listens and helps his parents. And then there's the defiant, tantrum-throwing child who blatantly ignores and has control of his parents. The problem child scares me. Sure, there are children who fall in between these two extremes, but I'm shooting to raise mine as close as I can to the best one.

When I see the polite children, I stare and try to figure out how their parents got them that way. While I was pregnant, I told Matt over and over, we're going to raise this baby to be a good boy. A really good boy. Manners, considerate, kind, careful, insert any other happy adjective.

So in Carter's early months, I dismissed myself from the responsibility of attempting to instill this "goodness." You just can't teach a tiny infant right from wrong ... besides, infants don't have the capability to behave badly, they're made up of complete innocence. I did the most I knew how to do for him as far as instilling love and kindness; I nursed him, let him sleep with us, talked to him in a cheerful voice, avoided letting him hear Matt and I when we were angry and tried to calm him when he cried.

But I wondered, how much of our personalities are previously instilled in our brains and how much of it is how we're raised? Can I, as a parent, influence the type of personality he's already been born with?

Carter's nine months old now; he has some instinctive sweetness to him. When we ask him for a kiss, he plants a sloppy one on our cheek, with sound effects and all. When I call his name and ask him to come to me, he turns and happily crawls over. He smiles about everything, and he's always happy to see you.

But when he started regularly and purposely throwing food off his high chair and onto the floor, whining to get what he wanted and biting Matt and I for fun, I decided it's time for business.

Throwing food
When he's about to throw something off his high chair - and even when the food has just hit the floor - I look at him, shake my head and say in a sharp voice, No. I don't ever pick it up for him. I have a slight feeling he does it for attention, because when I'm not staring at him eating, out of the corner of my eye I catch him putting the food neatly in his mouth. I praise him for almost every good bite he eats.

Whining & fits
Carter's fascinated by cords, phones, pretty much anything dangerous or expensive and easy to destroy. I try to be flexible and let him play with almost everything so he can explore the world, but I have to take a lot of things away from him, too. If it's something really cool - like today it was my whipped cream covered Starbucks straw - he screams bloody murder and acts personally offended. I let him scream for about 15 seconds before I give him a new, safer toy.
When he tugs at my leg and whines, I wait it out until he's quiet for a second before I pick him up or give him what he wants because I don't want him to think whining is the way to get his way. I never give him what he wants at the same time the actual whine is going on.

I'll admit I mostly want Carter to have please and thank you engrained in his brain because it's adorable and impressive to hear from a toddler, especially if they aren't even asked to say it. When he's eating I open my mouth and say, Can I please have some? When he gives it to me, I say, Thank you! I do the same routine with kisses.
I try to talk to him clearly. This is a tough one because it isn't how I naturally speak. For example, I normally say, You wanna go gedda snack? I've been trying to remind myself to annunciate better for him and use a complete sentence, Do you want to go get a snack?

Asking vs. Telling
When I'm trying to influence and direct Carter, I try to tell him what we're doing instead of asking his permission. I do this because I feel like asking him leaves room for defiance. He can't understand everything I say, but he can tell by the tone of my voice that what we're doing is questionable. I avoid, Do you want another bite? Are you ready for bed? Do you need a new diaper? Instead I say, Here's another bite. It's time for bed. Let's get a new diaper. I don't want negotiation where it doesn't belong, but I also try give him tons of freedom in other ways while he's playing, eating and exploring, even if it means the house is destroyed and food's in his hair.
We've gotten past biting during nursing. He graduated to biting random body parts while we're holding him; shoulders, hands, stomach, even a fake out kiss on the cheek is sometimes a chomp ... maybe to get a reaction from us, I haven't quite figured this one out yet. I put him on the floor immediately and say, No biting, that hurts! and leave him there just long enough to make him uncomfortable - a few seconds - then pick him up again.

Positive demeanor
This is a tough one. I live with Carter day in and day out, so sometimes it's hard to treat each day like it's new and beautiful. I get tired, things annoy me. For the most part, I try to always smile at Carter when I look at him from across the room to help him retain his happy baby innocence. I love getting wide grin and a little giggle in return, I want him to always be this way. I dance with him when we hear music on TV. I kiss him constantly. I talk to him like I'm thrilled (and I usually am). I try not to yell at him or use mean tones. Just because you tell a baby or child not to do something doesn't mean you need to elevate your voice. I feel like a happy attitude is the best way to teach kindness.

I'm interested in eventually looking into a Montessori preschool. From what I read, it's very similar to how I'd like Carter to grow up.
Here's the basic Montessori concept: The method is to bring about and support a child's true, natural way of being. The teacher views the child as having an inner natural guidance for his own self-directed development. The teacher's job is to watch over the environment and get rid of any obstacles that interfere with this natural development. The teacher also has experimental interactions with the children, also called "lessons" to correct misbehavior or show how to use the various self-teaching materials that are provided in the room for the children's free use.

What kind of ideas do you have on raising your baby? How early are you starting? What do you think of my ideas? I want to know you're doing!


  1. I hafta say Meghann I am extremely impressed by how you're handling raising a kind and polite and considerate little boy. I would have never guessed he's your first baby. Way to go! Keep it up!!

  2. My husband and I often observe our aunties and uncles and how they raise their children. It's really interesting because each family is soooo different. Each child is definitely an individual, but at the same time, they fit perfectly with that family and you can just tell that they belong with their parents. Even my Dad has told me that he marvels at how different all us siblings have turned out, yet we know we all belong together. I think we are born with a personality, and it's fine tuned according to our life experiences - and that's where we as parents come in. I look at it like irrigating a river - the water is there, but you can direct it according to how you build all the little canals and ditches that carry the water...if that makes sense. I love all your ideas though. My daughter's 3 months old, and can do no wrong, so right now we're obsessed with just making sure she's loved and making sure she knows we (hubby and I) love each other. It's easy to love when you know you're loved. Thanks for this post. You've given me a lot to think about over the next few months.

  3. this is a really great post! you really are such a great mom. i really like your philosophy & i agree with you..it is so important to raise a polite, sweet, & loving child who respects not only you, but himself.

    your blog is really looking good...i like the new changes :)

  4. I'm a Soon-to-be-Mama (WOO!), so I unfortunately don't have any advice or experience to share, but I just want to thank you for always sharing what's going on in your life. I've learned so much from you and am inspired by the type of Mama you are (so loving, dedicated, patient, kind). So thank you thank you thank you! And as a side note, you're an excellent writer! =)

  5. I don't have a child, but I am learning a lot from you and other mommies.

  6. I agree with what you said above.

    In addition, we want our son to be loving and treat women with respect, so we kiss and hug each other in front of him all the time. We want him to see how much we truly love each other. My husband opens doors for me and pulls out my chair for me before I sit down. He is only 5 1/2 months old, but I say its never too early to start.

    I also want to mention that NONE of this is easy, but as long as you try your best every day and stay consistent on the things that really matter to you, you will be just fine.

  7. I absolutely love what you did with this page! It's beautiful! Any tips? I have an adorable picture I tried putting at the top like you have but mine wont center!?

  8. This is one of the best things I have read in a long time. I am a teacher and also 10 weeks pregnant. Being around kids and parents I see all too often what parents are capable of doing to their children. There are those parents that are the 'extreme' pain in the butt parents and over involved and over powering and those who just don't care, which is sad. I think I have had the opportunity to see both extremes over and over to think to myself, 'hmm I am never going to do that!'
    I love what you wrote and I love how you raise your little guy. I totally agree with what you write. I hope I can keep such a clear mind when I am a parent. And I just can't wait!
    Take care, you are a fantastic mother and Carter is a great little guy!

  9. Wow, great post!! You are well on your way to raising a fantastic, good, polite, well rounded boy ;) I've been doing similar things with my kids, it gets harder to really keep up with it now that there's 5 of them LOL, but I'm doing my best and they are good kids. If you are looking for some good ideas to keep with the same values as he gets older Richard and Linda Eyre have written some amazing parenting books and raised 9 amazing kids, most of which are parents themselves now.

  10. Such a wonderful post!!! I haven't yet had any kiddos, but we'll be starting very soon and I'm definitely going to take your approach to parenting!! I'm such a happy and positive person, so I think your ideas of raising a baby is right in the line of how I would like for my hubby and I to parent!! Great job!!

  11. You inspire me. Honestly. I have been following your YouTube videos since your second or thrid pregnancy vlog. A lot of my friends now watch too. One of my daily highlights is after I put my daughter to sleep and my house is clean if I have time to get lost in the world wide web to see you've uploaded something new. I never thought to check out your blog until you mentioned it via youtube. This post makes me very glad that I did.

    I sound like your own personal creepy stalker disciple girl. haha. I'm just a fan who supports you and your husbands wonderful parenting :). Carter is one adorable, well-behaved little boy!

  12. You are the momma I strive to be someday! Thank you for sharing your parenting tips!