Can You Spoil a Newborn?
Grandma’s advice may be well-meaning, but don’t listen to her if she tells you that you are spoiling your baby: Experts agree that it is impossible to spoil a newborn.
Newborn babies have basic needs that must be met, and it is your job to meet them in the best way possible. This means picking up your baby when she is crying, feeding her when she is hungry and loving her every minute of the day.
Toddlers may cry when they don’t want to do something, when you tell them “no,” or when they want a toy. If you give in to that crying, you may be spoiling your child. But newborns don’t do this — they only cry to communicate essential needs, such as a need to be comforted, changed or fed.
There is no manipulation behind those tears — newborns simply aren’t capable of that. You can’t spoil a newborn by picking him up when he cries and tending to his needs.
By immediately attending to your newborn’s needs, you are benefiting both you and your child. You are teaching her that you are trustworthy and reliable, which strengthens the bond between parent and child. In fact, babies who trust their parents to be there when they need them become more self-confident and less whiny when they are older.
In addition, cuddling, snuggling and loving on your newborn actually helps her brain develop and regulates breathing. Such attention is not spoiling, but is physically helping your baby develop.
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Spoiling occurs when you respond inappropriately to your baby, according to the Ask Dr. Sears website. Appropriate responses to your newborn’s cries can never be spoiling, no matter how often you pick up or feed your baby.
However, as your child gets older, you can spoil him by doing everything for him instead of letting him learn on his own. Fetching toys for him instead of letting him try to crawl over to them, carrying him everywhere instead of urging him to try to walk and giving in to his tears when you previously told him “no” are all inappropriate responses.
Such actions may cause behavioral issues for your child later on in life.
Babies start showing that they want — rather than need — things at about 6 months of age. Your baby may want to eat only bananas, or she may want to pull on the cat’s tail. At this point, you will need to start differentiating between those wants and needs.
Satisfying her needs is still not spoiling, but giving in to all of her wants is. It may be hard to decide when to give in and when to stand firm, but it’s all part of learning how to be a good parent.
Until then, enjoy the newborn phase, knowing that you can’t possibly spoil your little one.
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