Will Too Much Holding Spoil The Baby?

How many times have we heard someone say, “Put that baby down, you’re going to spoil him!” Well, we’re here to tell you loud and clear that you CANNOT spoil a baby under the age of one by holding him too much. In fact, there is ample evidence to suggest that babies who are picked up within a couple minutes of beginning to cry end up crying a lot less than the ones who don’t get picked up later on.

Psychologically speaking, the first year of a child’s life is all about figuring out whether the world is a safe place, whether he can trust that he will be taken care of. The only way he can let us know that SOMETHING is wrong is to cry.  And then, of course, it’s up to us to figure out what it is. Often just picking him up will be enough to calm him. Then again, he may be too hot or too cold or maybe he was frightened by a loud or unfamiliar noise. He might have a tummy ache or a wet, uncomfortable diaper or maybe he’s hungry, tired, or bored and needs a change of scenery. Often it’s hard, if not impossible, to tell.

But whatever the cause, if he’s an infant and he’s crying, that’s our cue to pick him up and show him we care. Now since this crying thing happens a lot with wee ones, we suggest that you find a mom or dad, sister or brother, aunt or uncle, spouse, partner or good friend to help you out with all this holding. It doesn’t have to be you all the time. But just make sure that whoever helps out is loving, kind and trustworthy. And then tell that annoying person who’s on the rant about spoiling to kindly back off!

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Ellen W. Schrier, LCSW, is a family therapist and the mother of three adolescent/young adult kids.


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One response to “Will Too Much Holding Spoil The Baby?”

  1. Barbara Reidy

    GREAT piece – am sharing with the new parents in our family – such affirmation for them!
    Thank you – Barb

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