Spoiling a Baby

I really worry about spoiling my baby. He’s a very good baby, but I don’t know if it is because I just give him everything he wants or if he is just good natured.
San Mateo, California

Spoinling a Baby

Dr. Greene’s Answer:

Very young children cannot be spoiled. Some babies have greater needs than others due to their own physical condition, but all babies are very needy! Crying is their only way of communicating these needs to us. If babies didn’t cry when they are hungry, or when they need their diaper to be changed, we wouldn’t know what and when they need something.

As babies grow, they begin to communicate things other than physical needs. This includes the desire to be held or comforted and the desire to be stimulated. These are healthy desires! A child is spoiled only if they express a desire and someone (usually Mom or Dad, but it can be a Grandparent or other caregiver) gives them what they want each and every time.

If your child has a need, you will not spoil them by meeting that need. In fact, it is very important for you to meet their needs in order to build security, love, and trust. You will not even spoil them by giving them what they desire, unless you always give it to them, even when you don’t want to. This is the hard part – it is good to give a baby what he or she wants sometimes, but not all the time.

So how do you know when to do so? A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if you are giving your baby what they want or if you are giving in to what they want. In most cases if you are giving just because you want to give, you will be doing the best thing for your baby.

Try to avoid being so stressed out by other things in your life that you never feel like giving to your baby — or at the other extreme, finding your identity in your baby so that you always feel like giving in to them. For more insight on these extremes see related topics.

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Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is the founder of DrGreene.com (cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site”), a practicing pediatrician, father of four, & author of Raising Baby Green & Feeding Baby Green. He appears frequently in the media including such venues as the The New York Times, the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, & the Dr. Oz Show.

  1. Leeann Eagle

    Thank you Dr Greene! It always breaks my heart when im out and hear little babies crying and their mamas let them go. I dont think I will ever build a tolerance to hearing a baby cry, someone elses, or my own.

    Leeann @ http://www.facebook.com/LittleOnceBoutique

    Added:
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