Look, no one wants to talk about it, but we need to speak the truth: Newborns can be jerks. They cry when it’s really inconvenient, they poop all over the cute new outfits you buy them, they spit up your precious liquid gold. It’s just a fact of parenthood that babies are a little rude sometimes.
But some newborns kick it up a notch. They do all of the above—on steroids. And that’s because they’re not actually newborn babies, but tiny little demons sent to test your will and break you. The first step in defeating them is to recognize them, so here’s how to know if you’re dealing with a demonic baby terrorist and need to step up your game. (Spoiler alert: There’s a lot of screaming involved.)
1. Your baby screams when they wake up.
Sure, this one sounds normal. Babies wake up hungry, so they cry, right? Wrong. I’m not talking about a little wahh to let you know they’re awake. A demon baby will scream. And when you pick them up to comfort and feed them, they’ll scream louder. You’ll shove your boob in their mouth to let them know they can calm their crazy-ass down and eat already, but they’ll be too busy screaming to notice. You must persevere—they’ll eventually realize you are not, in fact, trying to starve them to death and will take advantage of the food source already in their mouth.
2. Your baby screams while eating.
Yes, you finally get them to latch and start eating, and then they let out a guttural shriek from their throat, with their mouth still closed and latched. You can choose to view this as a unique talent—your tiny baby can already multitask! (Also, maybe mention this one to your pediatrician; your baby may have reflux in addition to the demons.)
3. Your baby screams when they fart.
I know, all babies are gassy at one point or another, and it’s painful for their little tummies. But usually, once they let out a good toot or two, they’re relieved and all smiles. Not a demon baby, though. A demon baby will rip a comically loud fart and then let out a scream so piercing, you’ll be checking to see if they just shat out a knife. Try to massage out the gas if the demon will relax enough to let you, and if not, get some earplugs and power through.
4. Your baby screams when you try to put them down to nap.
They’ll fight sleep like a Vegas prizefighter. “You need a nap routine,” your friends with angel babies will tell you. Well, I’m here to tell you the truth: All that routine will do is clue your demon in to the fact that it’s nap time and piss them off. The only opponent who even stands a chance against this one is white noise. White noise is your white knight at all sleep times.
5. Your baby screams while sleeping.
You get that demon to succumb to your swaddling and white noise techniques, sink into bed yourself, and finally drift off into your own brief, sweet slumber, only to hear what you’ll lovingly know as the screams of a banshee coming from the bassinet. You’ll jump up, wide awake, and find that your little demon is still sound asleep. They just wanted to make sure you couldn’t sleep. This may happen once a night or it may happen once an hour. The demon will make sure it’s unpredictable, so you can never truly relax.
6. Your baby screams during bath time.
Your friends will all be posting pictures of their adorable babies splashing and playing and giggling during their glorious baths every single night. They’ll tell you, “Just give that baby a soothing bath when she’s upset. It’ll calm and relax her!” They will be wrong. A bath will only enrage your demon spawn. It doesn’t matter if the water is warm, cold, tepid, or boiling; they apparently think you’re going to waterboard them, and they won’t stand for that. The good news is, a newborn doesn’t really do anything to warrant a daily bath, so stick to once a week, scrub them down as fast as humanly possible, and get them out.
7. Your baby screams for no damn reason at all.
You’ll rule out all of the above demon irritants. You’ll check their fingers and toes and their clothing and make sure nothing is pinching or scratching them. You’ll check their diaper to make sure they’re dry and clean. You’ll try to top them off with milk to soothe them and make sure they’re full. You’ll try bouncing, shushing, swinging, rocking, gliding, tangoing, and waltzing that baby—and they will scream. Be strong. The demon is testing your strength and trying to break you.
If your baby is, in fact, a demon, don’t fret. You’re not alone. The other parents of demons are just too busy cowering in the corners of their bedrooms to be posting on Instagram. The demons will leave eventually, and you’ll be left with a happy little angel, just like all the other babies. You just have to stick it out and keep fighting until you expel them for good.