Monkey Baby

I was watching a documentary about monkeys a while ago. It followed a troop of monkeys where the dominant female would try to steal the babies of their less dominant counterparts. It was like her primal instincts were just too much to resist and she’d think to herself, “I’m taking that baby. I want it.”

The other mother would either be strong enough to steal her baby back or she would just have to give in and let the Alpha Female have the baby. (Don’t get sad here. I got sad and then I felt like a dummy because this is how shit goes down in the jungle. C’mon, man. Snakes.)

Yet, this is the same, exact crap that happens when you have a baby. There’s always someone dying, just aching, to lend their advice because they have that primal need to take care of every baby they lay their eyes on.



This is why I find women are either really helpful or really annoying when you have a newborn.

They have that primal need to help – not you, the baby – and that ain’t always the same thing. They want to take that baby and climb high in a tree to make sure that baby isn’t subjected to whatever thing they don’t subscribe to, like a pacifier, co-sleeping, crying-it-out, etc.

Most people have developed a filter to suppress this instinct and just die a little inside like I did in the grocery store when I heard a newborn crying and I wanted to crash through the cereal aisle like the Kool-Aid Man so I could save it. However, I don’t want to be arrested and/or have a collection of babies in a tree, so I keep it to myself but, sadly, some people don’t show the same level of restraint. You can tell their impulse is squeaking out like a duck fart because they ask your baby things instead of you. Questions like, “Are you hungry?”, “You’re so, so tired, my sweet girl.” or “Why doesn’t your mommy put socks on you? You must be cold!”


You are not in the equation – they see a baby in “need” and that’s it.

When they do this. They are just trying to help. It’s instinct kicking in and they want to protect a baby from what they view is something harmful and simply cannot resist it.

So I have a new theory. All you have to do is gently, but firmly, hold their arm and whisper, “I know what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to steal my monkey baby. Don’t bother though because, let me tell you something, I am the Alpha Female here so you need to back the hell off .”

Granted, it’s a little heavy handed, but whether she bows her head submissively to recognize your status, or simply backs away because she’s convinced you’re nuts,  I have the utmost confidence that it will work.

By God, it will work.


Related: New Mom Guilt: You Are Not Failing As A New Mother




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  • My father-in-law is the baby-swiping female monkey in my household! One time he took my crying baby out of my arms and told me I couldn’t feed her (when she was clearly hungry) because “she’d choke.” My Alpha Mom came out in spades soon after.

  • Wow!! Hit the nail on the head with this one! My mother has been nothing but supportive however my MIL has made comments about just about everything I choose to do with my babies. I have 4 month old twin boys and I’m a 36 year old Registered Nurse. Like another commenter said, I think I’ve got this. Just a week ago I was forced to bust out my alpha female on her after she sent me like 7 internet articles that, for the record, were mostly opinion articles and nothing with any sort of scientific backing or research. She apologized and I realized that it was exactly like you said… She can’t control that instinct to protect.

  • This made me laugh out loud when reading it! Just awesome and exactly how I still feel with my MIL and my kids are 3 and 1 1/2. Wish telling her not to steal my monkey babies would get her to stop telling people that my children will have problems socializing because I don’t allow them to watch TV until age 2 (as per pediatric guidelines).

  • I may have to try this because it’s a lot nicer than my current approach of cold, unsmiling death stare that follows them until they back away slowly. I got very little pregnancy "advice" and no one touched my bump either thanks to it. 🙂 At least the monkey baby accusation gives them something funny to talk about after they’ve made their hurried retreat.

  • I’m totally an alpha female mum. I’m proud of this and have been so since I was about 11yrs old. I’m tactful and respectful though. I don’t approach a woman unless she got those wide ‘help me’ eyes (or unless the kid is being obviously maltreated). I don’t like other butting their noses in my business, so I won’t butt mine in theirs unless it becomes a social necessity (it takes a village after all).
    My hubbys other missus is always tutting at my mothering style, despite the fact that hers is just to feed them, dress them and then do your own thing in between (different generation and culture).

    Recently, my nearly 2year old had a tantrum in the bus station cos I wouldn’t let him pet these two dogs that had walked in (they were mean looking bulldogs with meaner looking owners, I’m not meaning to be rude but that’s not a risk I’m willing to take with my tots fingers). He promptly flung himself on the ground and started crying. I’m wise to his antics and had my hand ready to catch his head so he didn’t hurt himself on the hard floor. I then picked him up calmly, put him in a chair and gave him a moment to calm down while telling him ‘I understand but dogs aren’t toys’.
    This old lady comes up to him and says ‘oh you poor boy, did you hurt yourself?’
    I replied with, "no, he didn’t" politely (giving her the benefit of the doubt as I would probably have felt similar in her shoes).
    She then turned to me and said, very rudely, "well you can never tell with little kids, he’s only a baby after all."
    I replied, as polity as I could muster, with "it’s easy to tell if you know your kid."
    Luckily the bus showed up then and Iet her push the que so I wouldn’t say anything I regret. Text my hubby and had a moan lol. God bless my dear hubby.

  • Our baby is due literally any day now. I’ve already had people give me advice all through pregnancy and I’m sure it will be worse when the baby gets here. My MIL is also pretty bad about it. She’s already telling me how I should dress the baby for the weather (thanks, but I wasn’t born yesterday so I think I can figure it out), what and when I should feed the baby (um, pediatricians have changed the guidelines a bit since you had your kids…), how I should arrange the nursery… what I should name the baby… and on and on. I love my MIL and I KNOW she really just wants to help but it’s getting very frustrating. And I also know that I will be a Mama Bear when my baby is born and so… I might just say something ugly and I don’t want to.

  • What I found annoying as a new mum was the number of other mothers telling me to give a pacifier instead of my breast for comfort. I have no problem offering my breast to help my newborn settle, why do you have a problem with it?

  • I’ll go with "They are just trying to help" or "lots of new mothers are so insecure that they just feel threatened by other women".

  • I always start jiggling or swaying when I hear a newborn cry. I have also wanted to touch the shoulder of the mom in the grocery store trying to get through the cash with a crying baby and say "we’ve all been there, you’re doing fine." I have 6 of my own. I do NOT want to steal any more!

  • snort See, if someone did that to me (I’d never talk to another person/her baby, I’d bitch at my husband because my boobs were going to explode), I would have an issue. That would trigger my alpha like no one’s business. I’d flat out say, "If you would take care of your baby, other monkeys wouldn’t be after it."

    Touching a stranger is a major no-no.

    I’ve only once ever said something, because I was so frustrated by listening to a baby cry for over 5 minutes, just being ignored in their car seat. I whined that I had to take Kat and go nurse her because I couldn’t take it anymore (to my husband, loudly).

    The mom came and explained to me on the way out, and I apologized and explained that I seriously did just need to nurse MY baby after listening to it >_< Hey, I didn’t steal hers! I just left to stop that instinct to ‘rescue’ the baby! (which was only crying because her dumb friend woke the baby up after s/he was all snuggly happy from nursing, so I was mad at friend, not mom — I felt bad for mom).

    As for mother-in-laws, people really need to remember that it’s NOT them trying to ‘steal’ their baby. HUMAN society revolves around mom, grandma and aunts ALL raising the baby together. Get out of monkeys there, that’s how humans roll. It’s not dominance, it’s survival. So you have to be empathetic (I was just talking to a friend about this) because you need to try to keep that in perspective if talking about doing things differently.

    Like, "Yeah, I know it’s hard, but I really want to follow the science on this one. I’m so glad you care and support me." (thus, you’re giving her a position to fulfill that is acceptable to you — grandmothers/aunts instinctively want to have a place to help, but when their experience doesn’t match the experience mom wants, it can leave them feeling helpless and not a part of the ‘village’)

    Of course, if you’ve already tried that and MIL/mom is still being an asshole, this would HAVE to be satisfying XD

    (I’ve been there, the ‘you had your chance!’ response, but then I read a beautiful explanation for why it happens that really made me empathize)

  • I am going to have to disagree with you here, when I see a new baby I have no desire to tell a new mom how to mother but I do want to steal their baby so that I can smell that fresh heaven sent baby smell and cuddle and love on them. I think every new mom is drowning in tiredness, inadequacy and so much more so I don’t want to tell them what to do, just want to snuggle a new baby!

  • Thank you! If one more person told me, or I should say asked the baby "where are your socks, your feet are sooooo cold" I could’ve used this. She was a summer baby and hello socks are pointless in the Sumer and just fall off. She was never cold but babies have poor circulation. Instead I’d just smile in silence and pretend I cared.

  • So far I haven’t encountered much monkey-stealing, but I usually respond to their advice with "noted." I let her know she’s heard and make zero commitment to actually do it.

  • I just have to say, this is the funniest post I’ve read in a long time. I immediately shared it with my mother, and now our new quote is "Don’t take my monkey baby!". I can see a lot of this happening in the next few months. Thanks for the laugh!

  • I would just like to say that the phrase "squeaking out like a duck fart" just totally made my day. I couldn't stop laughing!

  • absolutely love your blog. very relatable. very real. and it's just the effin truth! i laugh out loud. lets get real….sometimes downright snort reading this stuff. i'm that mom that can't join mom groups, mom supports, peps, or any other stay home mom groups because i'm that person that would be like "lets just sneak a cig and have a break like old times" and then the judgement, shame, guilt would come. eh….what are you gonna do right? sometimes you just miss the childless life, but it doesn't mean you don't absolutely adore the new one right?

  • I laughed out loud in the middle of my very crowded office when I read through this. What is the funniest part for me is a saying my sister has… She says the best parenting advice is to tap into your primal monkey brain and whatever your monkey brain tells you to do with your baby – then do it! Your primal monkey brain knows by extinct and its silly to fight it. Example: Baby cries – pick it up (or charge through the cereal aisle to get to to it *snort, chuckle*) I love that someone else has developed theories on parenting and behaviour based on our "monkey brains". I think I will keep this tucked away to use… "I know you don't mean to offend, you are just using your monkey brain and monkeys aren't known for their use of tact" 🙂

  • Hilarious! So that is what happened when I brought my first child home from the hospital and my MIL offered help with *the baby*. Not for me. Not cleaning the house or feeding us, but with the baby. Who basically just nursed and slept at the time. Heh. Your piece about being the alpha monkey would have been so brilliant at that moment.

  • It's so funny; I was JUST talking about this today – how the one thing I know I'll never miss about having an infant is the constant barrage of YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG from the entire universe. It's hard not to take it personally, even when it's not actually directed at you personally (and even more so when it is). Love your response; will file for later use. 🙂

  • I want to say this to someone so much, I only pray I'll have the courage since I know I'll have the opportunity. This is awesome.

  • Oh my goodness! I'm one of those monkeys trying to steal monkey babies!! Too funny to see myself in your post. I'm the proud mom of two woman (27 & 24) and thrilled grandma of two girls (3 & 2) with a little grandson coming within the next couple of weeks. I've tried to tell my oldest daughter that I don't mean to imply that she doesn't know what the heck she's doing with her girls. It's just that it's a 'mom' thing that kicks in once you've had kids and it just never goes away. I still find myself wanting to rock crying babies that I hear when I'm out in public. It's like a weird sickness that comes over you…..

  • This is easily the best parenting advice I've read in a good, long time. I only wish I'd read this before last week, when my aunt-in-law (is that a thing?) told me that it was "dangerous" that my baby sort of skipped crawling and went straight to walking because her muscles aren't going to develop correctly. Monkey baby swiping [email protected]#*%.

    • Uh. I’m gonna go all monkey baby on you and, while it’s not dangerous, there does seem to be some link between crawling and handwriting. Crazy huh? Occupational therapists think it has to do with developing chest muscles or such. Baking or stirring or something like that when baby is little takes care of it, though–just anything to work the chest/pectoral muscles.


      • Hmmm – interesting. I was a very early walker (so says mum), and pretty much skipped crawling – and I have the worst – no seriously – the WORST handwriting on God’s green earth. But I will tell you this, it does not impact my life in any real way. You may have noticed we are typing right. now. People don’t care at ALL about my handwriting. So to the original poster – congrats on your smarty pants early walker. Let’s not go stressing about future handwriting. That shit is just too meta for someone raising a toddler. 🙂 #monkeybabiesallupinhere!

        • Researchers suggest that poor handwriting has to do with high intelligence. That your brain thinks too quickly to be “neat” and therefore your writing is a big ol’ mess. So your early crawling/ugly writing may have more to do with advanced development of the brain!

  • Have you read "Let's Panic About Babies"? It is SO you. I bought it for my sister-in-law and told her, "It's like the Pregnant Chicken blog so I know you'll love it!"

  • DAMMIT you make me laugh!!! "…just die a little inside like I did in the grocery store when I heard a newborn crying and I wanted to crash through the cereal aisle like the Kool-Aid Man to save it."

  • I think it's the monkeys called Rhesus Macaque. Was the documentary Monkey Theives? Which is a documentary series about these types of monkeys. I found this by googling "Alpha female monkey kidnaps baby".

  • Thanks for the great insight and the laughs. Your delivery is fabulous!

    By the way, the type of monkey is a macaque.

  • Oh my gosh, this is my mother in law! I want to cry. You have helped me label what I have struggled about with her for SO LONG. Sometimes I wanna be like, "You already had your babies, beeyotch! These are MINE!"

    Next time she goes all alpha female monkey, I'm totally going to say that. I'm serious. I will. And I'll let you know how it goes.

  • I am due in 3-4 weeks with my first. I have great anxiety about having to deal with other people (namely my mother and MIL) judging my abilities to care for my baby (I'm almost 42, I think I can handle it).

    I will try to remember it's just their instincts and not rip their heads off, but I may resort to your advice.

    "I know what you're trying to do. You're trying to steal my monkey baby. Don't bother though because, let me tell you something, I am the Alpha Female here so you need to back the hell off and go back to smelling your ass."

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