Can You Spoil a Baby? (Don’t Fall for This Baby Myth!)
Has anyone ever told you, “Responding every time your baby cries will spoil her?” Well, that’s simply not true!
Studies show that repeatedly ignored cries can undermine an infant’s core confidence. This confidence—what child experts call attachment—is the glue that holds good families together.
How to bond with your baby from day one:
Think of it this way: when friends ignore your phone calls, you may try again—but if you’re repeatedly spurned, you’ll eventually stop reaching out. Similarly, a baby whose smiles and coos go unreturned will initially try harder to get attention—but if he continues to get no reaction, he’ll engage less and soon feel rejected and alone.
The same goes for when you meet your baby’s needs when she cries—dozens of times a day. If she thinks, “Every time I need something, it magically appears! You know, this place is pretty great! I really like these people.”
That would be a good thing, no?
The trust you build with your baby in the early days will become the foundation of her confidence and life-long ability to form deep, loving relations. And those are all very, very, good things!
Like most everything with babies, don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t follow this advice 100% of the time. Meaning, if you’re stuck on the phone when your baby launches into a tirade, don’t fret. A minute of crying doesn’t cause mental trauma.
When should you start worrying about spoiling your baby?
On the other hand, always giving in to your one-year-old every time she whines or cries is usually a recipe for disaster. After 9-12 months, it will become important to start teaching your child the meaning of limits and following the rules. (“Even if you cry for an hour ... I’m not gonna let you hold the scissors!”) But right now, your baby doesn’t need discipline. What he needs is an unshakable faith that he’s precious, protected and respected. This nurturing is as critical to his growing spirit as milk is to his developing body.
Final Thoughts: Can you Spoil a Baby?
When your baby is a newborn or less than a year old, don’t worry, too much attention will not spoil her or instill bad habits. On the contrary, use this time to shower your newborn with attention and reassurance.
If you are looking for more tips and advice on infant sleep, calming techniques, breastfeeding, and more, check out the The Happiest Baby on the Block book.
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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.