Can You Ever Spoil Your Little One?
Picking up your baby when they cry, and more pamahiin have long been debunked. So why do they persist up to this day?
There’s an old wives’ tale that you’ve perhaps heard: supposedly, when you pick a baby up as soon as they cry, they’ll get spoiled.
Some would go as far as saying that babies “manipulate” their caregivers, who are usually their parents, with their crying so that they get what they want. But have you ever thought about this tale? Does a baby have the capacity already to manipulate a grown adult to get them what they want? And even if they did, are they not crying out to get what they need to live?
Science has spoken, and the answer is no—it’s not possible to spoil a child when you respond to their cues. Instead, responding to their cues fosters a safe, dependable, and stable atmosphere where a child can thrive.
Here are the common misconceptions that your elders may have said might “spoil” your baby and why they are not true:
Myth 1: “Carrying them too much can spoil your child.”
You’ve probably heard of stories where babies want to be carried in a certain way, or just by a particular family member, or carried while the parent or caregiver is standing up.
When a baby is held close by their mom, it reminds them of the safety and warmth that they were in when they were inside your womb. They even find the sound of your heartbeat soothing because it’s what they’re used to hearing when they were still in utero.
So, can you spoil a child by carrying or holding them too much? Science says, no. But, they can cry to communicate that there’s a position that they prefer to be held in, or their need to be carried by someone with whom they feel safe.
If your child’s preferences won’t harm you or their caregiver, then go ahead and indulge them. But, if it’s been over three hours and your baby refuses to let you put them down, it’s time to rethink better options that will keep them sleeping, and you sane.
Myth 2: “Responding to your baby’s crying right away will spoil them into becoming so needy.”
Babies, especially newborns, are needy by nature. They depend on their caregivers to live, and when they cry, it’s because they have a need that must be addressed. For newborns and babies, these needs can be anything from food, sleep, or a change in diapers.
Experts have said that By nine months of age, babies learn that they get you to do what they want through their actions. All this means is that you need to take time to decipher their cues and needs. Before picking them up or doing anything, take a “parental pause”—a few seconds to figure out what the crying means, to see if there’s a real need or if your child already can deal with it on their own.
This parental pause is especially important as they get older. It may be parental instinct to rush to your child’s side when you see them in trouble. But when your child is of school age, they will learn valuable lessons on how to interact with others and handle problems on their own, if they know you won’t swoop in and save them.
Figure out when to step back, when to help out, and when to be their guide.
Myth 3: “You can spoil them by feeding them all the time.”
Feeding on demand is necessary for a newborn. And it may disrupt schedules and make you feel like you’re chained to your baby, but a newborn needs to eat every 2 to 3 hours, and there’s no set schedule as to what time. As long as you hear that cry, you’ve got to feed them!
Experts agree that it’s not spoiling if you’re providing for what they need.
With so many things that parents worry about when it comes to their children, adding the possibility of spoiling their child brings in unnecessary anxiety and more things to think about at night.
As long as you are responding to your child’s needs—providing food, keeping them safe and clean, among other things—it shows that they can count on you. It makes your child feel stable, safe, and loved. It teaches them to trust you and to trust their environment, and to view the world as a beautiful place to be in.
And at the end of the day, isn’t that what all parents want for their child?
About The Writer
MAITA DE JESUS
A mom of one 6-year-old girl, Maita started her writing career as an intern for a popular local women’s magazine back in 2004. Her career has seen her assume leadership positions in several wide-reaching publications: she’s served as managing editor for Good Housekeeping and Total Girl Magazine, and as editor-in-chief for Disney Princess Magazine.
She became a full-time freelancer in 2015, to help focus on raising her daughter as a single mom. In the course of her freelance career, she’s published parenting, lifestyle, and personal finance content for a variety of online portals.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are his/her own, and does not state or reflect those of Wyeth Nutrition and its principals.