Yes, I Spoil My Baby

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I was walking through a crowded flea market with my baby snuggled close in his carrier when I heard a woman whisper to her friend, “She’s spoiling that baby.”

I was sharing a story about how my baby kept me up all night because he wanted to be held when I was told, “You’re spoiling him so much.”

I was sitting through a class aimed at teaching new parents how to care for their babies when the teacher warned her students, “Don’t pick up your babies when they cry; you’ll spoil them.”

Here’s a spoiler alert for you: I’m tired of it!

I get fired up about the “spoiled baby” debate. Not only does research show you simply can’t spoil a newborn, it also suggests that some severe disorders can form if you fail to meet your tiny one’s needs.

Because here’s the thing – babies don’t cry to manipulate you. They don’t know how to do that. Instead, they cry because they have basic needs just like you and I do. They get hungry, they hurt, and they get sleepy or overstimulated. Since they can’t take care of themselves, they rely on us to do it for them.

I’ll be the first to admit that when babies reach a certain age, you actually can form habits that may lead to what your grandma considers “spoiling.” By this age, babies usually have some sort of cause/effect understanding and they can, in fact, use that to their advantage. But before then, they just don’t.

If I had believed everyone who told me that tending to my newborn’s cries would spoil him, he would have been in terrible pain from the very first day of his life. My son has severe acid reflux that prevents him from sleeping, gaining weight, and being comfortable. Letting him cry it out would have left him in immense pain he could neither understand nor bear.

Does it really sound like I spoiled him by helping him get some sleep, providing him with cuddles, and feeding him whenever he wanted?

For me, it’s simple. Babies are only babies for a very brief time. They grow like weeds, and they’re gone really, really fast.

Babies just don’t keep.

And parenting isn’t meant to be convenient.

So I will continue to rock my baby to sleep. I will wake up with him in the middle of the night. I won’t sleep train him. I’ll pick him up when he’s hurting. I’ll wear him as much as I want.

And, I’ll cuddle him for as long as he’ll let me.

Because that’s just it – he’s not going to let me forever.

If I’m “spoiling” him, so be it. That’s my issue to deal with later. I just don’t need to listen to another lecture while I’m shopping for groceries.

I’m doing the best I can at motherhood, and this is the way I’ve chosen to do it. Besides, if anyone is spoiled here… it’s me. I’m the one who gets to cuddle him whenever I want.

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Heather is a transplant from Tulsa, OK, who enjoys falling in love with Oklahoma City and all it has to offer. A communications and public relations specialist, Heather is a graduate of the University of Tulsa with degrees in film studies and creative writing. She loves to write, capture her day with photographs and videos, and spend time with her husband Byron and their two rambunctious dogs. They have a brand new baby boy and are navigating the unique world of first-time parenthood. Huge fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder, their favorite thing to do is attend Thunder games.

15 COMMENTS

  1. Love this! I 100% agree! I got the comments all the time especially with my first daughter but still with the second and I really irritates me too. I’m not spoiling my baby by wearing her in the carrier – babies and toddlers want to be close to their Mommy! And I love what you said about rocking them and waking up with them and carrying them because we won’t get to snuggle them forever because they do grow so fast. Thanks for this post. It was worded perfectly. 🙂

    • Thanks, Amy! I’m glad you liked it. It’s great to hear from people who agree that you just can’t spoil those little babies!

  2. Dear Heather,

    I spoiled my babies too, demand feeds till they were two, holding them in the night whenever they needed to feel loved. I closed my ears to the nay sayers-including their father at times- and trusted my instincts instead.

    Now they’re 7 and 11 year old boys and I still spoil them with my love, cuddles and attention. And sometimes they spoil me too… I would not have it any other way. 🙂
    Xx

    • So glad to hear that your boys are still spoiled with love and attention, Anita! I’m pretty sure my little boy is going to be a sensitive little fella due to all the affection I throw at him, and I definitely won’t regret that!

  3. Thank you for putting into words how i feel. I get these looks, these comments, these HELPFULsuggestions all the time. I love and adore the moments my boys want to be close to me and my husband even if it means getting woken several times a night, even if it means feeling exhausted the next day. Like you said they are only little once. Bask in the love we can give and the love and need these tiny people have. They’re not going to need us forever.

    • Oh, yes! I have definitely shifted my attitude about being up all night. Just last night my son was pretty clingy and I didn’t get much sleep. Instead of talking about how I was up all night, I’m telling people I had the opportunity snuggle with my baby between three and six a.m. this morning. 🙂 I think I’m the spoiled one.

  4. Yes, yes! That mama-child bond is so special. I’m always amazed when people suggest that you can spoil a baby, especially newborns; they just need that tender love and care! Touch is so important to children too – developmentally and emotionally. And I love how you talk about them not being little forever…it’s so true. Just trying to enjoy those baby snuggles while I can 🙂

    • I know – it’s hard to imagine NOT snuggling and loving on a baby! I’ll keep getting my cuddles in as long as he’ll let me! 😀

  5. My son is 18 months and I totally spoil him then….I always demand fed (formula). He would drink more than 40 ounces some days! Doctor said that’s too much, but you could tell he was starving. He would be shaking so bad, he couldn’t get the bottle fast enough, then he would drink so hard and fast, barely stopping to breathe! But I went with my instinct and fed him, now he’s a great weight and sleeps most nights all through like 10 or 11 hours. About twice a week, he will wake for a bottle, exhibiting behavior that he is more hungry than just wanting comfort. Another thing is that I still give him a bottle because he loves it so much, brings him such peace and I want to enjoy that as long as I can. I’ve read that as long as I stop before 2, his teeth should be good. I think nowadays, doctors and know-it-alls seem to want these babies to grow up too fast. And can I tell you something? He’s the most patient child. Never throws a fit (at least not yet). Happy, happy, happy…and believe me, he gets told ,”no,” ALOT….

    • You know what’s best for your baby, Julie! Moms just have that instinct and we know what our little ones need. You keep doing what you’re doing – you’re obviously doing a great job!

  6. Heather, this was hard for me to read my little five month old has GERD as well and it was heartbreaking not knowing what was wrong if someone had told me I was spoiling her they may have been slapped. Not possible to spoil a tiny baby!

    • Hang in there, Ellissa! GERD is so hard, but it does get better. My son is almost 8 months old now and he still suffers, but it’s nowhere near what it was like a few months ago. If you ever need anyone to share stories/tips with about GERD, I’m here!

  7. Thanks Heather- you’re so right. Our culture’s philosophy of child rearing has always felt very focused on what’s convenient and independent babies (whatever that means, right). Ive always found the independent piece interesting, sleep by yourself (even though I don’t like to), dont have overnight needs (even though I do), go to sleep l-stay asleep on your own (but let me put you in a crib you can’t get in or out of…). It seems we want them independent when it suits us, and not when they don’t. Newsflash: parenting isn’t convenient. It’s not all about you. It requires sacrifice and self care for it to work. Before we ask our kids to “be adults” we need to reflect on what that actually means. And consider that even as babies they feel deep and profound things.
    Keep at it mama!!

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