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 Fear of spoiling your baby, An article
Posted: Dec 20 2006, 03:50 PM

Attached to my this AP?

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Fear of Spoiling
Where does fear of spoiling come from?

By Teresa Pitman

The mother sitting beside me at the parent-child centre digs in her diaper bag for the pacifier. Her four-month-old baby boy, who has been sitting quietly in his car seat for about 15 minutes, has started to cry. He spits out his pacifier. She offers him a toy. He cries harder. She calls his name and makes shushing noises, but he continues to cry. She rocks the car seat. The movement startles him and he stops crying for a second, then starts up again.

I can tell by her anxious expression that this mother really wants to comfort her baby, but when she notices me watching, she says: "I don't want to pick him up - I'm afraid of spoiling him."

Where does this "fear of spoiling" come from? Often, comments from our parents or other older family members start us worrying. Lactation consultant Jan Barger says she remembers when her six-day-old baby was crying in her bassinet, and she hurried to pick her up. "My baby stopped crying as soon as she was in my arms," Barger says, "and my mother said to me, 'See, she's spoiled already.'"

Next Page: Theories of spoiling

Page 2: Theories of spoiling

Melissa Young, the mother of three-year-old Heidi and one-year-old Anna, says she's heard it all. "The basic message is that if you let your baby manipulate you, you are training her to be a bad person when she grows up." But babies aren't really able to be manipulative. They can't think, "Oh, Mom's busy with something else. I'll cry and make her come over here to help me." Babies just know that something is bothering them - they feel hungry, uncomfortable or lonely - and so they cry. Your baby's pleasure when you respond isn't the smile of the little schemer who feels he's won, but a demonstration of his growing trust in you.

The idea that parents could spoil babies by responding to their cries took hold in the late 1800s. The doctors who popularized this approach believed if you fed, changed and properly clothed your child, then that was all there was to caring for a baby.

This belief that too much love, cuddling and responsiveness can harm babies coincided with the development of isolated nuclear families, notes Young. "In a tribal community or an extended family situation, a baby would have lots of people around to provide holding, attention and stimulation," she explains. With just one parent around to provide that care, it became more difficult - and theories that suggested too much affection could be harmful grew in popularity.

Today, though, the research states otherwise:

A 1995 study at the University of Connecticut looked at babies and mothers during the first six weeks and at one year. Researchers found that the babies who had more responsive mothers during those early weeks were more communicative at one year.

A study from Brown University in Rhode Island found that when mothers responded appropriately to their babies' cries during the first month, those children had higher language and cognitive scores at 18 months.

A 1995 study out of Manchester, UK, found that a rapid response to crying led to significantly less crying overall.

Page 3: Responding to breastfeeding newborns

For breastfeeding newborns, prompt responses can be even more important. Mothers are often told not to feed their babies when they fuss, but to wait for a strong cry. If a baby is really crying, the reasoning goes, then he is really hungry and will feed better. However, a 1989 study showed that a newborn who is left to cry before being offered the breast will have a more disorganized suck and greater difficulty in latching on correctly. Frequently, the baby only sucks for a short time before falling asleep in exhaustion and frustration.

Barger suggests that breastfeeding only in response to the baby's cries is probably waiting too long. "A baby readying to feed displays cues even before awakening," she points out. "At first, he may wiggle, toss and turn, or be restless in his sleep. If his hand is near his face, he may begin to root towards it, and even attempt to suckle it or anything else near his mouth. If these early cues are ignored, the baby may begin to squeak or fuss lightly; if this is also ignored, he will eventually work up to a full cry."

Parents may also be criticized for carrying their babies around in slings, baby carriers or just in their arms. Others are told they are spoiling the baby because she sleeps next to mom and dad, or is rocked to sleep in loving arms every night before being settled into bed.

"People seem to think that if a baby always has lots of holding and physical contact, that she'll become more and more demanding and her parents will be rocking her to sleep when she's 18," says Melissa Young. "Yet they put diapers on babies or give them bottles and assume that one day they'll stop needing those things. A baby's desire to be held a lot or to have a parent help her fall asleep seems natural to me, and eventually she'll grow out of that, too."

The concept of spoiling just doesn't seem logical to Young. "When people support me and respond to me, it brings out the best in me," she reasons. "Why would my baby be any different?"

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Originally published in Today's Parent, June 2001[QUOTE][/QUOTE]
Posted: Dec 20 2006, 05:54 PM

Clearly neglecting my kids to be here this much

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I was pleasantly surprised when I was told by nurses in the hospital not to wait to feed my babies until they cry. They told me which hungry signs to look out for.
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