Anyone who has a child has probably heard that you cannot spoil an infant. Maybe you read this on the internet or in a book. Perhaps, like me, you read it on a poster hanging on the bathroom door while staying in the hospital after giving birth. Either way, experts agree that you can’t spoil an infant. As a new parent, I have to say I completely disagree.
I suppose the experts are right when it comes to needs. If the child is crying because it needs its diaper change, change it right away. If it is crying because it is hungry, don’t just let it cry, feed it. If you feel that it needs some love and affection, by all means, pick your baby up and show it some love. However, I don’t really think that spoiling can come from satisfying basic needs.
When ‘spoiling,’ comes to mind, I think of things that kids want, don’t need, but always end up getting it anyway. It’s a little thing called manipulation. Experts say that this is the reason you can’t spoil an infant. They are not able to manipulate with negative behavior. I agree with this, but I think it is possible for infants to “manipulate” in other ways.
For example, there is a routine with my child. I change the diaper, hold her while feeding her (sometimes holding her for awhile before feeding her) and then putting her down to sleep. Then, my mother started feeding her about as often as I did. At first, I didn’t mind. I read that you can’t spoil your baby, especially not with love and affection. I would change my daughter’s diaper and then pass her off to grandma to eat. She would be done with her bottle, and grandma would just hold her and rock her for an hour or more. I figured nothing could be wrong with this. Boy was I wrong.
Now, any time I feed my baby and put her down shortly afterwards, she cries. She doesn’t need her diaper changed, she doesn’t need food, she doesn’t need anything, except maybe some sleep. As soon as I pick her up, she calms down. She’ll drift back to sleep and I’ll put her down after awhile. She’ll sleep some, then cry again. I repeat by picking her up again and she calms right down.
Because of grandma, she is now used to being held all the time after eating. This is how you spoil an infant. I am not going to hold her for hours on end after she eats so she doesn’t cry. No, instead I let her cry until she goes to sleep, unless I think something is wrong. She got used to being held, and now she’s going to get used to not being held after having her bottle. Since she doesn’t need anything, I don’t feel bad about it. She has wants, just like every other human. We spoil by caving into those wants. Does she know that she is “manipulating” me into holding her? No. She just likes the comfort of being held when she sleeps, which is spoiling her into wanting to be held every single time she sleeps. Don’t always listen to what the experts say, it is definitely possible to spoil an infant.