Every parent has heard the warning: “You’re going to spoil that baby!” When talking about spoiled babies or children, people describe little ones that are manipulative. These fiendish little people have the power to make adults do what they want simply by crying. But babies don’t know how to manipulate and can’t tell the difference between wants and needs. Many moms worry that this will spoil the baby. The good news is that newborns can't be spoiled. Older babies on the verge of toddlerhood can start to exhibit spoiled behavior. However, parents can start early to stop the problem before it starts.
Make a schedule and stick to it. Schedule times for feeding and naps right from the start. A newborn may not always follow your schedule, but he will learn to expect things to happen at certain times. The framework of a schedule gives the baby something to trust. Zero to Three points out that routines give babies a sense of relationship and repetition.
Stay calm. If you lose your temper when you feel frustrated, your baby will learn early that yelling is the appropriate way to handle that emotion. Keeping your cool, models the behavior you want the baby to emulate as she matures.
Respond to your baby quickly. Dr. Sears encourages parents to meet the needs of crying babies quickly. When babies cry, they need help. Parents who respond quickly build a foundation of trust that tells the baby she can count on them. This isn’t the same as hovering over a toddler or preschooler. Babies need constant care; they aren’t ready to explore independence yet.
If your baby is crying, look for any signs of trouble. Check clothing for tags or anything that might be chafing or make the baby uncomfortable. Feel the baby’s head and neck and if he feels warm take his temperature. Check the schedule to see if your baby is hungry or getting ready for a nap. Sometimes, your baby just wants to be held. As your child learns to count on you for comfort, he will learn to feel comfortable in more situations. If your baby likes to be held, try talking to him before you pick him up. This is how he learns you are nearby even if you aren’t physically holding him.
Reassure your baby as she grows more independent. In the first year, your little one goes from a completely dependent human being to a crawling or walking dynamo. As she begins to crawl, you will see her head off, stop, and turn around to check on you. Smile, but don’t hover. Let her know that crawling away from Mom is perfectly all right. You will always be there if she needs you.