Question: If I lavish love and attention on my baby, will I spoil him?
Answer: No. Young babies are completely spoil-proof. Your baby needs all the care and attention you can give. Ignore the advice of well-meaning relatives who think babies need to learn independence. Instead, listen to your parental instinct — that inner voice that tells you to comfort your baby when he cries.
“Spoiled children” have learned to use negative behavior to get what they want. But your baby is too young to purposefully manipulate or annoy you.
He cries to communicate his needs, whether they’re for a snack, a dry diaper, or a little cuddling with Mom or Dad. When you respond quickly to your baby, you’re building his sense of self-worth. You’re also establishing a foundation of trust that can last for years to come.
If you give your baby prompt attention, he’ll feel more secure and less anxious, giving him the courage to explore the world on his own. And once he understands that you take his cries seriously, he’ll be less likely to cry for no reason. In the long run, responding quickly to your baby’s needs will make him less clingy and demanding, not more.
By the time your baby is 6 to 8 months old, he’ll be paying close attention to cause and effect — noticing, for instance, that his bowl falls when he drops it from the highchair. He’ll also start to see a direct link between his actions and your responses. At this point it’s okay to set some limits. If your baby starts crying to get something he doesn’t need, hold your ground and give him a hug when he calms down. Similarly, give hugs and praise for good behavior and gently redirect him when he’s doing something hazardous.
The right blend of love and guidance will eventually help your child understand his place in the world. But for now, your focus should be on giving him as much attention and comfort as you can. No matter how much you give, it’s not more than he needs.