This is the 2007 version. Click here for the 2017 chapter 10 table of contents.

Differences among Newborns

Differences among babies are apparent soon after birth. Nurses who work in the nurseries of hospitals have a sophisticated three-part classification for the temperament of babies: (1) difficult, (2) easy, or (3) in between.

What differences are apparent soon after birth?

Some babies are born difficult. They cry more easily and for a longer time, respond less to cuddling and soothing, and appear startled and irritated at small noises. Other babies are born easy. They are calm, unperturbed by noise, and they are easy to calm down when they cry. These different types of babies shape parental attitudes just as baby behaviors are shaped by parents.

One category of babies is particularly hard on parents. These are small for gestation age (S.G.A.) babies. Gestation is the time spent in the womb. Small for gestation age (S.G.A) babies have a low birth weight even if they spend the full nine months in the womb. Often they are irritable and hard to comfort: born difficult, as it were.

What are S.G.A. babies and how can they cause trouble for parents?

S.G.A. babies sometimes fail to perform the mother-baby dance (next page). Instead of looking happy when resting and responding to cuddles, they look worried when resting and become even more upset if they are picked up. This can lead to discouraged parents and a breakdown of parent-baby attachment. Such babies often come around to more normal behavior, later. The problem for parents is enduring the early months without getting discouraged.


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