Yes, for the most part babies are just human sacks of potatoes. And, yes, for the most part all they do is sleep, eat, poop, and repeat. But as a mom I can say that it's not difficult to notice a baby's budding personality, even as infants, and I personally believes babies show certain personality traits that follow them into toddlerhood, preschool, and beyond. After all, no two babies are exactly the same.
For example, my son is the sort of child who will only do things on his own terms. He’s also the kind of kid who will take his time learning a skill, then seemingly master it overnight. He was born two days after his due date, and had to spend several weeks in the NICU. Once he was finally recovered from his health issues, though, he was able to come home with zero complications. As a baby, he was slow to start with solids, but eventually mastered them when he was good and ready. Same for self-feeding. Same for moving into his toddler bed. Same for potty-training (it took him four years to take it seriously, and only a week to master the whole "peeing in the toilet" thing.)
So while I truly believe that most of our personality revolves around nurture, there’s something to be said about inherent personality traits. That's why I asked a few moms to think back to when their kids were just babies, and share what, if any, of their personality could be observed early on. Here’s what they shared:
“I knew from the beginning my daughter was an outgoing and loving child. She's about to be 6, and that hasn't changed at all. She'll go out of her way to help another child that is sad, or even an adult.”
“My son was always very comfortable and confident as a baby. For example, he was never afraid to try new things or go new places. He would allow people to hold him without a fuss, and would always be very settled in his environment — something that we thought was just a phase as he was too young to understand. However, stranger danger and anxiety never really set in for him. He is 5 now and just started kindergarten. He walked in the class like he had been going for years and made friends with everyone very quickly.”
“[My son] was an easy-going baby, and has grown into a super laid back 5-year-old. [My daughter] was a more demanding, strong-willed premie, and she has grown into an equally strong-willed 3-year-old.”
“My oldest would not be put down and always wanted to interact with people. He never had interest as a baby in toys. At 8, he loves being on stage and in large groups. He's very social and hates being alone.”
My now 9-year-old was so keen to communicate that she picked up Baby Sign Language very fast. At age 1, she had two dozen signs, and at 2 she had two hundred signs. My now 8-year-old couldn’t have cared less about that. She was more athletic, had to climb everything, even now she doesn’t stop moving.”
“My girls are night and day. Annie is 3 and she is calm, helpful, and quiet and has been since she was born. Ashley is 2 and is loud, demanding, and rambunctious, and has been since she was born. Both are cuddlers, though.”
“Strong willed, persistent. Independent.”
“My son, now 7, has always been very mellow, easy going, and very focused. We noticed it as an infant. But, it was at two months that a doctor (who had to perform a very long eye test on him) told us that he had an unusually long attention span for an infant. Five years later, this is still his personality. He's a very cheerful go-with-the-flow kind of guy, who patiently focuses for long periods of time on any challenges you give him.”
“My son was a strong-willed baby. He was also very physically capable, crazy active, and extremely determined. He’s almost 7 now, and still all of those things. He wants to do what he wants to do when he wants to do it (which is literally all the time). He’s a great little athlete, and the most argumentative person I know. I know strong-willed is a good thing in the long run, but it’s super exhausting now.”
“Labor started when my water broke and I immediately went into full, painful swing. It was like [my son] was saying, ‘I'm ready! Let’s go!’ Then he, apparently, changed his mind and had to be surgically extracted over 18 hours later.
This dramatic indecision is still very much a part of his personality.”
“My middle child came out screaming, and was colicky for eight months. She is the sweetest little girl, but if she gets upset, expect a loud response. She also never stops talking."
“I went into labor a week late, checked in, and went through the whole rigamarole of contractions, breaking water, epidural, etc., for 36 hrs when doctor and nurses said baby's position changed slightly and was going back up. We tried repositioning for another 10 hours or so, and I finally caved in and agreed to a C-section. Baby girl came out screaming, and wouldn't stop until she was in my arms. To this day, even at 7, she would climb back up through the birth canal and hang out in my uterus if she could.”
“My oldest doesn’t do anything until she’s good and ready, and then she does it all the way. I had a 48-hour long induction, pushed for two-and-a-half hours, and all of a sudden she just about flew across the room. She didn’t sleep through the night until [she was] 1, and then she slept the full 12 hours every single night. She didn’t walk until two weeks before turning 2, when she stood up and walked across the room without a wobble. She didn’t talk much more than a few words at a time until she could use perfect sentences. She insisted she couldn’t read for the longest time, then went from pre-primary to grade level 2.5 in a matter of a few months. It’s just who she is.”