To the mum with the challenging child (it’s nothing you’ve done)

challenging child

Those first few weeks after we brought our first-born home from hospital were nothing like I expected them to be. Of course I was expecting a lack of sleep and the demands that come with looking after a newborn. But I wasn’t prepared for the relentless crying, the complete exhaustion and the constant distress our baby seemed to be in.

challenging child

I remember I would count how many dishes I could get washed in between her screaming fits, and I would dash into the shower at 6am knowing that it might be the last chance I would get until mid afternoon. I would look forward to drying my hair or vacuuming, as I knew that the hum of the noise would finally lull her to sleep. Other women at baby groups would offer to hold her to see if they had the ‘knack’ to calm her down – they didn’t.

What am I doing wrong?

I’m not sure that people really believed me when I talked about how challenging our baby was. And because she was my first, I wasn’t sure if it was normal. I questioned whether I was just not very good at being a mum, perhaps I wasn’t cut out for it. I’d never been the maternal type and maybe my daughter could sense that? Why didn’t my cuddles comfort her? Was I fussing her too much? Was I not giving her enough fuss?

But deep down I knew this wasn’t how every baby behaved.

We tried every trick in the book to quieten her cries (and get some respite!) Every colic remedy, every white noise app, swaddles, different milk formulas, different routines. But nothing really helped.

challenging child

In the end I came to accept that my daughter was just far too feisty, head-strong and determined to sit quietly in her bouncer/cot whilst the rest of the world went about her. It wasn’t until we got to around six months and she gained some independence that everything drastically changed.

The next chapter

Two and a half years later and I have the most delightful toddler. Luckily her independent nature set her up in good stead for the months that followed. Potty training was a breeze, she skipped into nursery from day one, she helps get herself dressed and she will eat pretty much anything mum and dad do.


When I fell pregnant with our second, needless to say I wasn’t overly looking forward to returning to the newborn days.

But then he arrived and he honestly couldn’t be more different.

Every child is different…

Six weeks in and our baby boy is a joy. His cries are cute whimpers rather than angry screams, and they’re usually because he needs something – a feed, a sleep, a cuddle – not just because. He naps during the day and is already finding his own routine at night. He’s pacified with a cuddle, some attention or his dummy.

I’ve lost count of the times that people have said to me that you’re so much more relaxed with your second, your second just ‘fits in’. And yes that’s true. I certainly trust my instincts more and I’m confident in my abilities as a mother.

But have I parented any differently? Not really. I am still the same mum, the same person. I’m not sure how I would’ve done things any differently if I could go back to those days when I was a new mum. Our baby was just difficult and there’s nothing I could’ve done to change that.

one month old

Certainly in my experience a child’s nature is determined from a very early age, and perhaps there will be chapters in childhood which don’t particularly suit them. Whether it’s the baby months, toddlerhood, adolescence or the teenage years, hardly any of us grow up without testing the boundaries at some point.

Of course, as parents we can provide the encouragement our kids need to raise well-rounded adults. We should be good role models and help nurture their unique talents and attributes. We should teach them to have respect and good manners…

But sometimes there are days, months and even years when no matter how hard we try, our kids get the better of us and we wonder what we’re doing wrong.

Just ride the wave Mama, you’re doing just great.

Mum Muddling Through

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5 Comment

  1. Donna
    September 7, 2017 at 11:03 am

    Love this post. I think it’s just important to remember that it’s bloody hard work. I consider both of my kids relatively easy (there’s still time yet!!) but there are still days when i could scream! #coolmumclub

  2. MMT
    September 7, 2017 at 8:51 pm

    Love this Nat. You’re so right – they are all so different! Tigs was a much trickier baby than the Mouse… she cried alot more but was such an easy toddler. Ate and slept a dream, never left my side and has always been fairly happy to sit and draw for hours on end. Her sister conversely was such an easy, chilled baby. She fitted in and barely made a sound during the day (okay so sleep was a different matter). hate to tell you this but it all changed dramatically at 6 months when she became a TOTAL NUTTER. And basically has remained that ever since…! But we wouldn’t have her any other way. As you say…all different…good luck! Hope your chilled dude stays that way for a long time to come. He’s such a cutie!
    x Thanks for linking to #coolmumclub

  3. Sadie | Be Your Own Example
    September 9, 2017 at 11:01 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. Our middle son was an intense baby. And our youngest, just eleven weeks old, started off in the same way. Thankfully, he’s now become much more placid and our days are falling in to a much easier pattern than I ever had with his brother. And like you, I haven’t differed greatly in how I’m parenting. Personality shows itself right from the start. Our middle son is still feisty and full on, as he was as a baby! I’m confident it means this wee one will be a bit more chilled out and relaxed as he grows.
    Sadie | Be Your Own Example recently posted…Jurassic Kingdom at Glasgow Botanic Gardens – an honest reviewMy Profile

  4. Susie at This is me now
    September 13, 2017 at 9:51 pm

    Yep I generally just think some babies cry way more or are more unsettled/less content than others (for whatever reason – collic, allergies, or just because… I’m not a doctor…) Luckily my first was an “easy” baby but a very good friend really struggled until her baby got much older and then they turned a corner. I’m expecting my second and now scared the next one will be different and I won’t know what to do! Just going to do what I did last time and hope for the best!! #coolmumclub

  5. Musings & Mumblings
    September 15, 2017 at 5:06 am

    […] have a toddler who feels like an opponent a lot of the time! Everything in her recent post, “To the mum with the challenging child (it’s nothing you’ve done),” speaks to […]

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