Can You Spoil A Baby?
If you’re a parent, chances are you’ve heard these bits of criticism before from well-intended grandparents, parents, friends, or even sometimes strangers:
“Don’t pick your baby up so much. You’re spoiling him.”
“You’re feeding her on demand? She’s going to grow up spoiled.”
It’s a myth that’s been debated for decades, but as a new parent, it still might get you worrying. Can I love my baby too much? Is it actually possible to spoil a baby?
The answer: No. Absolutely not – and here’s why science says so.
Newborns cry to communicate their needs.
A newborn has only a few basic needs: to be fed, changed, held, and loved. And yes, at this stage in life, the last two are most definitely needs rather than wants. The only way for your baby to communicate these needs is by crying and cooing.
So when your baby cries, and you act on your motherly or fatherly instincts and pick them up, feed them, or change them, you are meeting their needs and teaching them that they can rely on you. This trust and security build the foundation of baby’s confidence and self-worth as they grow.
Touch and comfort are crucial for development.
As a baby, loving touch is one of the most essential things for brain development. Newborns have a biological need for close physical affection. Your cuddles and hugs can lead to significantly lowered levels of stress and anxiety – which reduces crying and lowers heart rates. Physical touch also aids in bonding and building trust with your baby.
Newborns do not have the cognitive ability to manipulate.
No, your couple-week-old baby is not a master of manipulation. Manipulation is a more sophisticated behaviour that babies are not capable of. So in the first few months, you can rest assured that your baby is crying to get a need met – not crying because they are trying to get you to do something for them that you don’t want to do.
So when can you spoil a baby?
At around 6-9 months of age, your baby may start to take notice of the cause and effect of their actions. For example, they may want to grab the dog’s tail or throw food from their high chair. When it comes to this time, you can start setting a bit more limits – but right now, your baby needs all the nurturing you can provide to facilitate bonding between each other.
So comfort, soothe, and hold your babies all you want! Newborns are completely spoil proof, so by soaking up the cuddles and responding quickly to their cries, you are actually helping them grow physically, emotionally, and intellectually.