Most new mothers have been warned that if they give into the demands of a crying infant, they are ‘creating a rod for their back and setting themselves up for a spoilt child’! Is this an old wives’ tale or can an infant really be spoilt?
Childcare experts are in full agreement – an infant cannot be spoilt and when a mom reacts to a crying baby they are simply doing what comes naturally and what is instinct. Newborn babies are only able to communicate by crying and they cry because they are hungry, uncomfortable or in pain.
What experts do agree on is that when a vigilant mom responds to the cries of her baby, she will be nurturing the baby’s basic needs and the infant will feel loved and secure. When an infant is left to cry for a long period of the time, the infant will work itself up to such an extent that it will become inconsolable and it can have long-lasting effects on the child. There are obviously times when a mom is unable to respond immediately but this should not be the norm.
The question is how can responding to a child’s cry possibly be considered to be spoiling? Considering that the infant is brand new to the world and has no idea about manipulation or how crying will help it to gain attention, it should be kept in mind that many early infant behaviours are only instinct, honed over many millenia, and while the baby itself has no idea it is being manipulative, that doesn’t mean it isn’t. The baby is still totally dependent on the adults in their lives to provide food, shelter, and love.
Not responding to a crying baby
Leaving a baby to cry simply because of the forewarnings receiving about spoiling the child, may have negative effects on the baby:
- A baby who is left to cry for extended period of time may suffer from trust issues later in life;
- Numerous studies have been done on children in orphanages, who are left to cry simply because there is not enough hands to offer around the clock care and attention. These children are prone to lowered self-confidence, angry outbursts and the inability to form bonds with others.
For the first few years of life, mothers need to care for their offspring around the clock and this means seeing to their cries – why are they crying? Mothers are there to make sure their child is safe, loved and secure. A baby cannot be spoilt by love! Your job as a mom is to give a fussy, sick, lonely or sad child comfort – an infant is not yet able to devise a plan on how to grab their mom’s attention by crying – this will happen at the age of two!