“You can’t spoil a baby.” With my first child, I learned this from friends, family, and books alike. At the time, though, it felt more like a reassurance that everything I was doing to simply survive the “fourth trimester” (and, let’s be honest, probably much longer than that) was ok and to not feel guilty about holding my baby so that he napped or nursing him every two hours around the clock. With my second child, though, I have to remind myself of this simple phrase so that I can relax and enjoy my baby.
My baby is a good sleeper. Maybe it’s from hearing her toddler brother and our dogs barking from the womb, or perhaps it’s just her personality. From the first week we brought her home, she was napping in her pack ‘n play in the sitting room for an hour while brother played with Peppa Pig on the floor right next to her. She also started sleeping through the night (albeit inconsistently) at 2 months. So, I don’t have to hold her for her naps during the day like I did with my son. But, I want to! And I know that I can’t spoil a baby, so I do it.
Studies have proven that it is actually more important that newborns are responded to when they cry (to lay a foundation of security) and that they have plenty of physical touch (for several developmental reasons) than it is for parents to try to set a schedule or instill “good habits.” Babies up to nine months old don’t know how to manipulate their parents and, thus, can’t be spoiled. For the first 3 months especially, babies tell you precisely what they need, and schedules can be thrown out the window. One thing that really stuck with me happened to be from The Happiest Baby on the Block: babies should actually be inside the womb for three more months than they are (aka “the fourth trimester”), there just isn’t room in the human body for that. Additionally, for the nine months that they were still in the womb, they were rocked, held, warm, and fed for 24 hours per day. So, even if you hold them 15 hours per day once they are born, they still aren’t as “spoiled” as they were before they were born.
Knowing this scientific information combined with my instinctual desire to snuggle this little one because I know how quickly this phase passes, I don’t feel guilty holding her for multiple naps per day or nursing her on demand. Because, when I do, I can watch her fleeting smiles in her sleep. I can feel her soft breath on my neck or her little hand on my arm. I can bend my head down and kiss her forehead or smell her amazing baby scent and know that this is good for both of us. Relax and enjoy your little ones, mamas, because you can’t spoil a baby.
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