You Can’t Spoil a Baby!

Tonight, while in a restaurant, I was wearing my baby girl in my Moby Wrap.  The hostess asked me what it was called and I happily told her and explained how it worked.  (I swear, Moby Wrap should give me commission for how many people I’ve referred to them!)  She told me that her niece who lives with her has a three month old daughter who always wants to be held and snuggled.  I commented that both my kids were/are the same way.  Her niece has been receiving a lot of pressure from outside sources to put the baby down and let her fuss a bit, because, as many of us have been told, they were going to “spoil the baby.”  However, they have decided to go with their guts, respond quickly to the baby’s cries, and hold her if she wants to be held.  Not surprisingly, they have all been happier.  I smiled and told her how wonderful I thought that was and, of course, I reassured her that you can’t spoil a baby!

The hostess also told me that her niece sleeps in the bed with her baby (who has never slept in the crib or bassinet).  She said that the baby sleeps very well when cuddled up to her mother, but can’t seem to sleep any other way.  She thought I was going to be horrified.  Again, I smiled and told her how wonderful I thought that was and, again, I reassured her that you can’t spoil a baby!  The same people mentioned above have also been pressuring her niece not to sleep with her child and to make the baby sleep in a crib.  They also suggest that the mother let the baby cry.  To this, I was horrified.  At three months old, the baby is not trying to manipulate anyone.  She is crying to express a need – a need to be held, a need to be reassured, a need to be fed or changed or burped, a need to be loved.  The hostess seemed to know this deep down inside.  She looked relieved when I told her that we are also a co-sleeping family (our baby daughter in the co-sleeper attached to our bed and our toddler son in between us) who respond quickly to our children’s needs.  She asked if we were concerned that our children would never leave our bed.  I joked that I highly doubted that our kids would still be sleeping in our bed when they were teenagers.  They’ll be out of there eventually, but until then, we are going to enjoy every last cuddle (well, except the ones with feet in our faces).

My reassurances seemed to lift her spirits a bit.  Suddenly, the choices her niece has made no longer seem so strange, dangerous, or atypical.  They were acceptable, applauded, and encouraged… well, by me anyhow.  It’s ok to hold or wear your baby.  It’s ok to respond to your baby’s cries.  It’s ok to sleep with your baby (in a safe manner, of course).  You can’t spoil a baby!  I hope that my words of support will help her and her niece continue parenting in the way that feels right to them.  I hope that they continue to do what works for their family and not cave to pressure of the outside world.  I hope I helped someone tonight.

Here are some interesting links:

Babywearing:

http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/fussy-baby/baby-wearing/benefits-babywearing

Spoiling:

http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/child-rearing-and-development/spoiling

Safe co-sleeping:

http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/sleep-problems/sids-latest-research-how-sleeping-your-baby-safe


Comments

You Can’t Spoil a Baby! — 9 Comments

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  2. I wrote a similar post to this when my smallest was a tiny baby… after four kids I’d found my confidence and just smiled and nodded and ignored everyone who told me my baby was ‘manipulating me’ and that I should put him down or make him sleep alone… I know my kids are smart, but my boy would have to have been a genius to be able to manipulate me at 8 weeks of age, at that age he still had no understanding that he and I were even separate people!
    So glad you were able to be a support to that woman and her niece, sometimes all you need is for someone to smile and say that it’s ok.

  3. Thanks for sharing this. I love it!
    I was so sick of parents (in laws mainly) & grandparents going on about spoiling my boy. I even had strangers in shopping centers saying he was spoilt because i picked him up when he cried, or I was wearing him, he was only 9 weeks then mind you.
    I wish someone like you was there for me to smile and approve, just to know that there is no such thing as spoiling a baby 🙂 you feel very judged sometimes when your told to parent in a different way.

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  5. Amy this is such a beautiful post. I’m totally comfortable with my attached and gentle parenting now, but as a young Mum it was tough to follow my instincts when so many sources were telling me that I was doing my son a dis-service by responding to his cries, co-sleeping and baby wearing. A reassuring word like you gave to this woman and her niece can do wonders for a mother’s confidence. I’m featuring this post on my blog today as one of my favourites from last week’s Sunday Parenting Party. Thank you for linking up.

  6. I totally agree! Though our sons didn’t co-sleep with us (in the late 60′ and early 70’s not many of us were doing it) they were never left to cry it out. At the first little squeak they were picked up and held until they fell back to sleep or were content and happy again. You definitely “can’t spoil a baby”!

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