Can you spoil a baby? Image here is of a baby wearing a crown and holding a scepter to represent this question.

Spoiling your newborn

Despite the advice you may have heard from grandmothers, friends, family, and other random people you meet on the street, recent studies have shown that it is impossible to spoil a newborn.

Can you spoil a baby?

Go ahead, give Baby all the love and care they want and needs. Keeping Baby close to you actually aids their brain development and teaches them that you will be there when they need you, solidifying the bond between parent and child.

A newborn’s brain is not developed enough to understand manipulation, so when Baby cries, it is not to try to control you. Rather, they cry to communicate the basic needs to be held and fed, and your response to these needs is an important part of Baby’s development. In fact, babies that are secure in infancy develop a strong sense of self that helps them self-soothe later in life.

After 6 months, however, babies start to learn enough about cause and effect that some of their cries are about getting what they want, instead of a physical reaction to a need, and they start to anticipate your response to certain actions. At this age, or after, some parents start to differentiate between their babies’ wants and needs, and to respond to needs, but not all wants, as a way to discourage some behaviors. Holding Baby as they fall asleep is a common example of this – your baby doesn’t need to only fall asleep in your arms, but if that’s how they feel most comfortable, and they know that fussing will get them their way, it can be problematic.

  • Kyla Boyse. “Child Development News.” Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan. University of Michigan. June 2007. Web.
  • Melodi Faris, Elizabeth McCarroll. “Crying Babies.” Texas Child Care. Fall 2010. Web.
  • Kate Garry. “Psychologist Darcia Narvaez Studies Parenting Practices.” University of Notre Dame College of Arts and Letters. University of Notre Dame, September 17 2010. Web.
  • Michael Price. “DNA isn’t the whole story.” American Psychological Association. American Psychological Association, October 2009. Web.
  • “Am I spoiling my baby?” Center for Early Education and Development. University of Minnesota, 2009. Web.

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