Is it Possible to Spoil a Baby?

I parent by instinct.  So far so good, I’ve not really read all the guides or books (‘Your Baby Week by Week’ was the only book I read.. and I read it week by week as a feeding guide!) because if I’m honest I’d rather read a good fiction, there is only so much baby reading I can take from so called ‘professionals!’

But one thing that seems to crop up every now and then is to ‘make sure you don’t spoil your baby.’

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Now correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t consider tending to my child’s needs as spoiling.  Buying presents when he’s older every time he demands it and stamps his feet is what I consider spoiling.

He is not able to communicate with me, so how can I expect him to understand that Mummy is leaving him to cry and wail his heart out because I’m scared of ‘spoiling’ him.  Why would I even consider that an option?!

At night-time he struggles to sleep.  Like I said previously in another post he finds going to sleep harder now because his instinct is to get up and crawl when I put him down.  He doesn’t understand that it’s bed time.  He gets over tired and cries.  Not a little sob but a really upset wail with tears pouring down his little chubby cheeks, stuck usually sitting upright.

Leaving him in that situation as is the ‘advice’ by some would not make it any better.  He still won’t put his head down and realise it’s bed time.  He just gets more and more upset until he’s half hyperventilating, but doesn’t know how to get himself back down to a sleeping position.

Instead I try to get him to a really sleepy state in my bed where I can hold him in place and then transfer him to his cot just before he actually nods off, in time he’ll understand the concept of sleeping- but why expect him to know everything now?

He’s also at the age where separation anxiety exists.  He doesn’t cry if I leave the room as long as someone else is with him (even just the dog), so his anxiety isn’t solely about me, but instead when he is left alone.  Surely that’s just a natural evolutionary instinct.  His survival depends on other human beings.  Sometimes he won’t cry when left alone but at other times he gets upset.  When he does get upset it ranges from a little whinge (which I ignore) to full-out upset baby, which I won’t ignore!  Again he doesn’t understand why everyone has left him, why should I expect him to understand that right now?

Now before you do think I’m spoiling him (which maybe I am), I don’t always run to his side.  Now he’s crawling and standing he frequently falls over.  If he lands somewhere soft and cries I don’t run over to him, I tell him to get up with a smile on my face- I try not to encourage him being upset by looking overly concerned.  He now knows that when he falls over and it doesn’t hurt to just roll over and continue.  If he does hit his head or other body part hard then of course I go over and give him a cuddle, after assessing whether or not he really needs me.  A real cry usually means ‘Mummy I need you.’  Before he learnt to crawl he had no issue going to sleep which is why I know it’s not because he’s being a difficult baby.  Plus at the moment he’s teething, and we all know how uncomfortable that must be, I just won’t let him suffer alone.

The idea of letting ‘them’ cry just infuriates me.  For goodness sake he’s a baby.  A baby that hasn’t grasped language yet.  When he’s older and understands the concept of bedtime my approach will obviously be different.  He can tell me what’s wrong or at least understand what Mummy is doing and why.

While he’s a baby I reserve the right to make sure my baby is not upset to the best of my abilities.  I don’t call that spoiling, I call that parenting.

19 thoughts on “Is it Possible to Spoil a Baby?

  1. My husband raised the question of why people insist on using the world “spoil” only the other day and your post could have been written from a recording of our conversation!
    I think it’s totally ridiculous to call tending to your child’s needs spoiling them. As you say, they have no other means of communication to tell you what they need and it is a need, not a ‘want’ which you’re indulging them with for an easy life!xx

    • That’s the thing, it’s a need. I personally think it’s easier to ignore them than constantly tend to them. Perhaps it’s not the baby being spoilt? x

  2. Who needs a ‘week by week’ thesaurus? When our time comes we’ll have the inspirational and refreshingly level headed LondonMum experiences to guide us. Obviously, your wonderful Son is in the very best of motherly hands! Onwards LondonMum. Brilliant details, brilliant photos, brilliant site. MORE please.

  3. I completely agree. I don’t have any children yet but I am trying, and when I do have a baby I won’t let them cry and not go to them just because someone has decided that is spoiling them. If my baby needs me surely I should attend to that need rather than have them growing up thinking that no one will ever help them or comfort them? X

  4. I totally agree with everything you are saying. I also have had the comments of “be careful not to spoil him” and somehow find it hard to understand how you could spoil a a baby. I give him love and affection when needed, I to don’t rush to his aid if he falls on a soft surface and now L knows to just get back up. It also means that I know when there is something up. He doesn’t realise what all the toys cost, and would be just as happy with a card board box, he doesn’t understand me verbally but he understands my actions, and I think until they know verbally what you are saying then it’s really difficult to spoil them. Great post.

    • That’s how I came to the conclusion. The poor baby can’t speak or communicate with me at all to understand what’s going on. It’s not fair to treat him like he does know until he’s at an age where it all makes sense. x

  5. I totally agree with everything you are saying. I also have had the comments of “be careful not to spoil him” and somehow find it hard to understand how you could spoil a a baby. I give him love and affection when needed, I to don’t rush to his aid if he falls on a soft surface and now L knows to just get back up. It also means that I know when there is something up. He doesn’t realise what all the toys cost, and would be just as happy with a card board box, he doesn’t understand me verbally but he understands my actions, and I think until they know verbally what you are saying then it’s really difficult to spoil them. Great post.

  6. Do want you feel is right. That will be the right way. I have twins, and felt so bad not being able to comfort and tend to them all the time, however I think that this slightly ‘tougher’ approach (simply because I didn’t have the spare hands!) worked at getting them to fall asleep at night and nap on their own. However they did cry and demand my attention a lot. It’s normal! It’s probably a phase and soon he will be more independent and less reliant on you. Sounds like you are doing a great job though! (p.s. he is so cute) x x

    • With twins I completely understand you can’t be there for them both all the time, that must be so challenging. But perhaps that’s why the bond between twins is so strong, they always have each other and know that the other is nearby.
      He’s a good sleeper normally but he is certainly more challenging at the moment, mainly because I don’t think we’re settled yet. We’re still waiting on a house purchase to go through, so he’s not in familiar surroundings and is in a travel cot! I wouldn’t be overly thrilled either! lol! x

  7. I hate it when people say you shouldn’t spoil babies! Children, even toddlers are different but I honestly think it’s impossible to spoil a baby. They have very few needs, they dont beg for toys or sweets etc!!
    My mother in law told me the other day to stop kissing and hugging my daughter so much as I will spoil her!!
    WHAT!?

    • That’s what I don’t understand?! How is being affectionate with your daughter possibly going to spoil her? Surely your daughter will just know Mummy loves her. Isn’t that the emotion we should convey? xx

  8. Great post Donna and Aww look at baby L’s little face in that pic.I do think that babies can be spoilt…by their grandparents lol (my mil in particular). If Eliot makes the slightest protest, no tears, no screaming just a bit of a ‘don’t put me in the playpen’, ‘ ‘don’t put me in the highchair’ she will pick him up right away, whereas if he was left he’d soon occupy himself with his toys. I would never leave him crying if I knew he really needed me! X

    • Oh yes, that’s true, that’s a whole new level of actual spoiling! A Mother would never dream of being like that at home! lol x

  9. Totally natural! He’s still tiny and the world is a big scary place for him. He feels at his safest when he’s with his mummy. You should hear some of the things I do when I tell people I fed Dylan to sleep (still doing the same with Charlotte) but it’s what worked for us. He slept through the moment I took him out of our room (where we shock horror co-slept) and into his own room and in a cot. I would still feed him to sleep until the time felt right where he would go himself. No such thing as spoiling, just plain old parenting by our own books :D x

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