Are You Spoiling Your Baby?

Is it possible to spoil a baby by responding every time he cries?

Consoling a Crying Baby

Q: My mother says that my husband and I are spoiling our 3-month-old by responding to him every time he cries. Is there something wrong with that?

A: It's really hard on new parents when their own parents tell them they're spoiling the baby. But remember: It's not possible to spoil an infant in the first year. This is a tender time when getting to know, love, and understand your baby takes over your life and priorities. While there is some evidence that "high crying" (more than three hours a day) infants may do better if given a few minutes to console themselves, responding promptly is not only a strong parental instinct but also the best thing for the baby, actually decreasing crying time later.

A recent study at the University of Turku in Finland found that more-sensitive mothers had more-contented infants. You're fortunate that your husband seems to be sensitive, too, and agrees with you on how to handle your child. Having such a partner (or best friend, in the Finnish study) was associated with being more responsive to the baby. Your responsiveness may make your mother feel guilty that she wasn't as attentive when raising you. Thanking her for the great parenting she provided may quiet the criticism.

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All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

Copyright © 2005. Reprinted with permission from the February 2005 issue of Child Magazine.

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