No no no I'm not a baby hater. I love babies. Well I love my babies, and my niece, and Kristy's babies. Some babies irritate me but I'm sure my babies irritate people at the shops, post office, etc too! What I meant is that babies like to suck. It's what they do.
When I wrote my post “breastfeeding: the good, the bad and the sucky” I forgot to mention the 'sucky' part. Babies suck.
Babies cry. A mother will soon learn to tell if bub is hungry or not. Something that really gets on the nerves of all mothers, whether breastfed or bottle fed, is people saying "feed the baby" when they KNOW the baby isn't hungry.
Of course in the early weeks it can be hard to tell the difference but after a few months many mums will know baby's different cried and cues. A baby who is crying is not necessarily hungry. He/she could be dirty, wet, hot, cold, tired, overstimulated, gassy, or just wanting a cuddle. Older babies could also be bored, lonely, needing attention, wanting to run around, wanting an object they've seen or just plain trying to get on your nerves.
I know nobody likes listening to babies cry and everyone wants to soothe the noisy distressed bub as quickly as possible, however, it is not the job of random strangers to point this out or suggest how. I've lost count of how many times I was out with Alexis and she got tired, bored, cranky and needed a nappy change. All the planning in the world can't avoid bad service, incompetent staff or annoying customers taking forever to decide what they want while you wait. I did not appreciate the same annoying people sticking their noses in saying "she must be hungry". It took so much self-control to not blurt out "actually she's just cranky because you are taking forever so could you kindly mind your own business and hurry up." It took even more self-control to not say abridged two-word retorts to the same effect.
We all know how annoying times like that are. Even dads understand those times.
What some people, especially dads, don't realise is that babies suck. Just because a baby is making sucky noises, sucking on his hand or sucking on dads finger/bicep/shirt does not necessarily mean that he or she is hungry.
Corey is the king of "he's hungry, feed him". I am thankful he paid attention in prenatal classes when I was pregnant with Alexis. Yes sucking can mean baby is hungry however it doesn't always. When William sucks things he might be hungry, but he might be gassy, tired, overwhelmed or just plain looking for something to do.
Babies suck in the womb. They suck in amniotic fluid and they suck their hands and feet. We have a 3D ultrasound photo of William (in the womb) sucking his thumb. Yes it is sooo cute.
Sucking is a habit babies have and it brings them comfort. They aren't likely to stop that habit as soon as they are born. Newborn bubs have just had a big change. They can't drink amniotic fluid anymore, they can't play with the umbilical cord anymore, they can't perform somersaults or use mummy's bladder as a toy. They can still suck though, so they like to. Come to think of it my 20 month old still has a dummy. William hasn’t shown any interest in a dummy yet, he just gums anything he can get to his mouth.
Of course a baby sucking on his hand and crying could mean "I'm hungry" and it's not really possible to overfeed a breastfed bub, so it doesn't hurt to feed them anyway. The chances are though gentlemen, that if your wife has spent an hour feeding bub and five minutes later he starts sucking on his hand, she will throw something at you if you say "I think he's hungry". Unless you plan to miraculously start lactating it is probably wise to pick baby up and listen for a burp or fart.
Oh, and guys, if baby IS hungry after the resulting burp or fart or poop that does not mean that you won that argument. Not really. It just means he's made more room. 😉