31 answers

Is My Mom Spoiling My Daughter?

I'm fortunate enough to have my Mother watching my Daughter while my husband and I are working and going to school weeknights. It's been a blessing and a curse lately. Each night when I get home from my classes, I find her sleeping in her pack and play. Amazing, I know. But from what I've watched recently, my Mother lulls her to sleep by lullabies, and cuddles in the evenings.

My daughter is 7 months old, and I'd been told by the pediatrician since - well forever - that we should start placing her in her crib when she's drowsy so she can learn to fall asleep on her own. He's also said she should be able to sleep through the night without a night bottle. (Thoughts, ladies?)

In any case, my angel who HAD been going to bed, by HERSELF, in her crib at 8:30 has turned into a monster. She no longer will fall asleep in her crib. I have tried, SEVERAL times And once, or twice, the cry it out method in attempts to have her fall asleep, only for my Mother to pick her up and cuddle her to sleep. My daughter no longer sleeps through the night without a nighttime bottle. Since my Mother, also, has been feeding her nighttime bottles twice a night. Ladies, am I wrong to go by what the pedatrician thinks? Or should I be grateful for my Mother's help and change my ways? Suggestions?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I had some of the same thoughts when my daughter was a baby. We rocked her to sleep until she was maybe 18 months. We kept trying occasionally to put her down awake, when she was ready for it she went to sleep on her own. Until then we never had to deal with nights of guilt and crying. I asked my boss about it, he has three kids, his response was that they aren't going to let you rock them to sleep at 13, enjoy it while you can.

I am sorry that I have no ideas for you but if you find out how to stop it then please let me know. I have a 18 month old that has to be rocked to sleep every night and the bad part is that I can not rock him. Oh and the other bad thing is that my mother in law lives with us and can't stand to hear him cry so he gets away with almost everything when grandma is home. I would love to hear what people have to say to you. Oh my son does go down for a nap on his own though.

Good Luck,

More Answers

I personally am going to come down on the other side from what most of the other mothers have said, but thats my personal opinion. You need to make a decision based on what is best for you and your family.

I did co-sleeping with my son till he was eighteen months old and I really enjoyed it. I feel that children need to be loved and comforted at that young of an age. You might try reading some of Dr. Sears books on parenting and co-sleeping just to get an idea of whether any of his ideas would work for you or if you would even be interested at all.

I do understand that the 2 different ways of being put to sleep are putting you in a tough position, but if your mom is watching your daughter for free, you might want to be forgiving, or even try to combine her style and your style in some way to give the child a regular routine. Such as, rocking and cuddles for 15 minutes, then into bed.

Once again, I switched my son to his own bed at 18 months and have had pretty much no problem with him going to sleep on his own since. Sure, it was a tough week teaching him that he had to stay in his own bed, but it wasn't that bad. After getting used to going to sleep on his little mattress on the floor in my room (maybe you'd use the pack n play), with me not in the room after books and songs were done, I was able to switch him to his own bed and room with no problem at all when he was 2 1/2. He never tries to sneak into bed in the night or anything like that.

He goes to sleep on his own, stays in bed, sleeps all night, and the switch was never that big of a deal. A comforted, reassured child is usually a confident, happy, self assured child later. He is very independent and outgoing. Being cuddled to sleep did not stop him from switching to his own bed or make him a clingy "Mama's boy".

I guess my point is, once again, you need to do what works best for YOU, depending on your schedule and beliefs in parenting, but maybe you can figure out some happy medium with your mother. Changing over later to going to sleep on their own is not too hard, in my opinion.

Just wanted to add a different perspective, Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

Guidelines are merely that...guidelines. All parents eventually realize no two children develop the same, and their needs are all different. Your baby needs lots of cuddling, and if she's growing, will need those extra feedings. She may also be getting close to teething, and often babies need both cuddling and feedings to deal with that phase.

I personally think the cry it out method is bit much for babies. Once they're mobile, they naturally begin to ween themselves from nightfeedings and desiring to be held all the time. It's just the law of nature. Enjoy this time while you can. It's not spoiling. It's just a phase that will end too quickly in hindsight.

I think what may be the real issue here is unresolved feelings about leaving your child while you pursue career and school.

Unfortunately, for those of us who must work or choose to work, we then need to find someone we trust to proxy for us while we can't be with baby. While this is rational and a necessity, this reasoning totally flies in the face of maternal instinct and how mother's are wired. We're designed to "want" to be with our babies, and with this we're driven to be concerned with every aspect of our child's upbringing. This is the "rub" when it comes to career. You have to give up some of your "mamma-perks" if career is important. I suspect the underlying issue here is you're feeling a little threatend by the bond that has developed between Grandma and your daughter.

Reality is, they now have a routine that works. The baby trusts and knows grandma. They have bonded. Perhaps when you get home, there isn't a set routine, and it makes the baby agitated. Babies this young are slaves to routine. If she gets use to the pack n' play, that's where she'll want to sleep all the time. If you can't recreate this at home, she'll probably feel off kilter. This doesn't mean she's spoiled.

Your concerns are natural and understandable. And while a slight hint of "jealousy" might be at play here, I'm certain this is not be in the forefront of your mind as to what may be the real issue behind your question.

I know I've been there, when I worked and my mom helped out. I suspect, every experienced mom knows you can't really "spoil" a baby. And every mom knows deep down inside, they don't want to share the spotlight with anyone else when it comes to the affections of their children.

I say thank your mom profusely because she sounds wonderful. It's truly a blessing you have someone who loves your daughter that much, who is able to be there for the both of you. But on the same hand, I say be honest with yourself about what's really going on here.

Don't let jealously bubble only to rear its ugly head somewhere down the line, where you could hurt your mom's feelings and lose a great day care provider.

Give yourself the ability to confront those feelings. Do not feel guilty. It's natural to want your daughter to yourself. When you do have time with your daughter, make every moment a gem. Lastly, do something kind and special for mom. And if it doesn't ruffle your feathers too much, try using her methods at home.

2 moms found this helpful

This is a tough one, and one you should probably think about hard, because it could alter your relationship with mom. My MIL swears by rocking kids to sleep. She loves it. The kids love it. We hated it. Our kids have never been good sleepers, and it's very hard to get them to put themselves to sleep. So...is she spoiling the baby? Probably so. BUT--this is what I know from daycare: children learn what to put up with. My first son did not learn to put himself to sleep without snuggling until about 2 1/2. The only reason he learned that "soon" was because I finally realized his daycare got him down for a nap with no fuss--no book, no snuggling, no nothing, just "this is what we do after lunch" and some quiet music. If THEY could do it, WE could do it. My mother in law says that she has always liked snuggling children and would rather snuggle her children than make them fall asleep on their own...she raised four of her own, and snuggled them all, and they all slept on their own by late toddlerhood. So--your pediatrician is correct...but so is your mom. There is nothing wrong with what she is doing, other than that it creates problems for you. YOU have to decide whether those problems are worth it--but first, IMO, I'd see whether you can set up one set of rules for grandma and one set of rules for mom and dad (does she sleep in different places--pack-n-play vs crib?--at different places? That might help.

Oh--and when my MIL saw how looooooonnnng and trying our nights were, she reluctantly agreed to put our #2 down and let him fuss--for a little while. She doesn't like it, and we don't either, but she does see how hard it was to get him to sleep on his own.

1 mom found this helpful

My thoughts...you can't spoil a baby. There are some kids who just stop sleeping through the night no matter what you did or didn't do. I personally nursed/rocked my kids to sleep all the time, and I have some great sleepers now (well, the 9 year old, 6 year old and 2 year old, the 2 month old sleeps with me.) Some babies just need some extra comfort...and pediatricians still give old school advice. They do not know it all. Most still rely on advice given 30 years ago.

The best part of being a mom, is that you make the rules. Your ped can say whatever they want, and you do not HAVE to take their advice...just nod and smile. When they ask you what you have been doing, just tell them you do what works for you...and change the subject.

1 mom found this helpful

Any habit that kids develop can be changed with a little work. Pediatricians and parents are so concerned about having to break a habit that they are afraid of doing what makes their lives easier at the time. I rocked my baby to sleep and I also broke her of that habit at about 12 months with a little work.

I am sure your mom loves rocking your baby to sleep, and holding her in her arms. It is probably the biggest reason she agrees to take care of your child the majority of the day. She is not abusing your child, she is loving your child and taking great care of her so you can go to work and school and not worry about your daughter. I say until you are the only one putting your child to bed, you let the person you trust to watch your child, put your baby to sleep in a way that works for her.

1 mom found this helpful

Have you explained to your mom your current concerns? I don't think she is "spoiling" your baby, but has created new habits. Try explaining the routine you used to use that WORKED for you and how her new routine is not working and why. Being appreciative of family (or any other) help does not mean that you should have to follow "Their" routine--she is YOUR child. Hope that helps.

1 mom found this helpful

Normally, I say to ignore what your doctor says about parenting issues (medical issues, of course you should pay attention). In this case, I'd agree with your pediatrician. Your mom isn't spoiling your daughter, but she is creating some sleep habits that are making everyone miserable. There isn't anything wrong with cuddling your baby to sleep sometimes (it's one of the perks of being a parent) but if it's causing problems, it needs to stop. Talking to grandma about it probably won't be fun, but I think it needs to be done.

I have one child who night weaned very early, and another who still wakes up to eat at 14 months old. Sometimes they go through a growth spurt that makes them wake up and need to eat too. I'm thinking this may have been a temporary need that has become a habit. Try offering her a bottle of water when she night wakes, and she might just decide it isn't worth waking up for.

1 mom found this helpful

Why should YOU have to change your ways? This is the exact reason your doctor to you what he did. You need to talk to your mother to keep from losing your mind. It is not fair to you and she needs to consider at least a compromise.

With my two boys, I have always cuddled them to sleep. My oldest one is 3 1/2, and he eventually weaned himself of it...he was about 1 1/2 yrs. I still cuddle my youngest to sleep for nap and bedtime, he's about 13 months old...I just love that time with them. But I stay at home with them and it works for us. I would take what the pediatrician says and kinda mesh it with what will work for you. My 13 month old still gets a bottle right before bed. If it's not working for you, talk to your mom and just ask that she maybe cuddle her a little, but before she drifts off, then lay her in bed...after all, she's your daughter, and you should be able to do what works for you...

Regardless of whether one views what your mother is doing as "spoiling" or not, she is first and foremost a grandma. She's not a childcare center or a nanny. My opinion is that you can either be grateful for what your mother is doing for you and live with her different care style, or you can pay a childcare professional to take care of your child using your style. As long as your mother is not endangering your child, I think you have to live with the plusses as well as the minuses. Also, I think that even young babies learn very quickly that they can get what they want from certain people and not others. If you stick with your bedtime routine when you are putting your daughter to sleep at night, soon she will learn that mommy will not rock her to sleep even if grandma will.

I'm a grandmother of a 4, 6, & 7 yr. old (2 girls & 1 boy). Two of them lived with us (with their mother) most of their lives and "Grandpa & Grandma" snuggled & rocked them to sleep every night. Even at their current ages, they can go to sleep by themselves, but go to sleep much quicker & easier, and LOVE to be snuggled & rocked at bedtime (with a story). The 7 yr. old boy seems to want & need it more than the girls.

Since you're both working & going to school, I'd recommend letting her be snuggled & rocked to sleep every night. The bad news is that you will also need to do this on the nights she is with you.

As far as bottle is concerned, I'd give it to her until she is completely weaned, but only if it is being given while someone is holding her (not propped up in bed). A bottle of warm (or cold) water might be a good transition. It still allows the soothing sucking motions but eliminates the milk.

You should figure out a sleep routine that works for your family and then teach your mom it and ask her to follow it. She's likely just used what she knows. We read the book The Baby Whisperer which has a lot of great methods. Our almost 8mo old goes to bed at 7-7:30 and sleeps until 6:30am. They can sleep through the night they just need your help and guidance. First thing to make sure is that she's getting enough to eat during the day. This directly impacts waking at night. We use the same bed time routine every night to wind down and signal it's time for sleep. When they teethe or go through a growth spurt sometimes they wake more, but we rarely, if ever, give a feeding at night anymore.

The doctor tells you what she should be doing that is what a baby can do at her age . I am pretty sure your child is not the only child that likes to be cuddled to sleep . I would talk to your mom and ask her if she could try not to give her a bottle at night .And that she try to let her go to sleep on her own . Tell her she can snuggle with her tell she gets sleepy then lay her down . She is not spoiled it is some thing she is learning .

I am sorry that I have no ideas for you but if you find out how to stop it then please let me know. I have a 18 month old that has to be rocked to sleep every night and the bad part is that I can not rock him. Oh and the other bad thing is that my mother in law lives with us and can't stand to hear him cry so he gets away with almost everything when grandma is home. I would love to hear what people have to say to you. Oh my son does go down for a nap on his own though.

Good Luck,

I have a little bit different view on this. You mom is doing you a huge, huge, favor. Are you paying her? Is she your employee? If so then I think you can demand she do things your way. If she is watching your child so that you can go to work/school as a favor then I think you should allow her to deal with the child as she sees fit as long as she is causing no harm (and rocking a child isn't harmful, it just makes your life harder when you are the one home with the kid). My mom watches my sister's children and my sister has said some things very similar to what you say. While I understand that it is your child and you want things done your way you have to realize that you aren't then one with the kid all day/night so you kind of have to give a little.

Hi M.,
I sympathize with you. We also have my mom watching the kids on occasion and I can certainly see the difference in them when they have spent a day or two with her:) Nonetheless, there is nothing better than knowing they are safe and being taken care of by someone that loves them! That said, whatever you do, try to be consistent. If you find that you can't convince your mom to follow your routines and want to continue having her watch your baby, then maybe better just to do whatever your mom is doing when you're home. It sounds like she is with the baby more in the evening (is it every weeknight?) so that might be easiest. Or, for example, if you decide to take the hard line and do cry it out, you have to convince your mom to follow up with this. Anything else is just unfair to your daughter since she will never know what to expect... I would cry too if I was used to being cuddled and fed at night and then, suddenly, no one was coming to get me.

Good luck!

BE GRATEFUL!! Avoid being condescending, but let your mom know how you would like her to do the bedtime routine (write it down on paper if you feel you may be too emotional saying it) Remember she has raised children...you:)My point being your child is 7mo old there are many reason for waking at night and many "methods"(as noted in these responses and physicians) to use for sleep issues. BE GRATEFUL not selfish. Your mom is not to blame she loves her grand child and there is a special bond going on here.

How lucky for you and your daughter to have your mom so involved in your baby's life!

Not be be too negative but your mother is completely disrespecting you and your parenting and it needs to be stopped immediately. If you don't stop it now - it's just going to travel w/ you into every phase of your child's life ... from foods you don't want her to have to TV you don't want her to watch, toys/games you don't want her to use. If you don't set the proper boundaries with your mother RIGHT NOW then you are going to be fighting this your whole life. As it stands now your mother is going to keep doing EXACTLY as she sees fit.

Maybe you can complement her w/ how well she raised you (and your siblings?) and praise her for the things she's doing right w/ your daughter and firmly but lovingly tell her that now it's your turn to be the mother and that some things have changed since she last raised children and that XYZ is how you will be doing things. Not how you would LIKE to do things - but how you WILL be doing things. Good luck... it's never easy dealing w/ ones mother!!

I had some of the same thoughts when my daughter was a baby. We rocked her to sleep until she was maybe 18 months. We kept trying occasionally to put her down awake, when she was ready for it she went to sleep on her own. Until then we never had to deal with nights of guilt and crying. I asked my boss about it, he has three kids, his response was that they aren't going to let you rock them to sleep at 13, enjoy it while you can.

Peditricians aren't always right when it comes to this stuff, listen to your motherly instinct. I disagree that a baby of 7 mo won't get up during the night for a bottle. I think that a lot don't but I never was one for the crying it out either, how could you sleep good and have sweet dreams if you go to sleep crying so hard? That said...

Your mother is doing your child harm by not following your instruction. I am a grandmother who watches my granddaughter a lot and I have to respect what mom and dad says, even when I would rather do it another way. What she is doing is making your child go through being broke off the bottle over and over and let's face it, it is hard enough once! I know she is doing you a big favor with watching your child and that it probably isn't fesable or desirable to change that now. I would either sit her down and talk with her on what you want with your daughter or change it to her way so the baby is on a schedule and a consistant way of doing things. Cuddling is a wonderful thing and they do learn to sleep on their own. Believe it or not, they get so independent that they don't want to cuddle as much. There is a sense of security being rocked and sung to sleep. So maybe give in on this area to mom's way. Night time bottles at this age I think would be ok but if you really want to stop them, when she wakes up offer her water in a sippy cup instead of the bottle. Insist on your mother doing the same thing. Also don't take her out of her crib, but lay her back down and pat her back and sing to her to get her back to sleep. Remember though, babies like security and schedules and they go hand in hand. If your mom has the baby most of the time, she needs to be able to set the schedule to work around her needs. Also Grandma's know that babies grow up so fast so cuddling to them is piece of Heaven instead of something we do to get the baby to sleep. My granddaughter napped with me in the recliner for the first year. I would hold her and rock her and she would cuddle up and just looking at her my heart would swell (and a lot of times, my eyes would tear up with the pure love between us). When she got long enough she wasn't so comfortable on my lap she would nap on her own and now she is almost 3 and won't hardly cuddle and isn't taking naps unless she is really tired. Then she might come crawl up in my lap and sleep with me again in the recliner. When she spends the night I sleep in the extra room with her and we cuddle and talk about when I was little and would spend the night with my grandmother. We are making lots of wonderful memories. So compromise with mom... cuddle before bed but not night time bottles.

i think the choices in this area are up to you. You don't HAVE to listen to to what the DR says in this case. It is your child so you are the one makes the choices in situations like this. If you want to go by the dr then do so but you are not required. As far Grandma is concerned, you can tell her your wishes and hope that she follows them but ultimately she is the one watching your little one. Tell her your routine for home bedtime and ask her to keep it consistent. If don't mind the rocking to sleep but want to follow what the dr says you don't have to. My dr told me when my son was 4 months old to start giving him formula at night to get him to sleep more (he woke every 1-2 hours) i refused and instead continued to get up with my son to nurse him he slept through the night at 7 months by his own choice. my son is 17 months old and still wakes up for a quick snuggle a few times a week. my 8 year old nephew has NEVER slept through the night with out getting up for a drink of milk or water. So if your daughter seems hungry then feed her.

Maybe you could write down your ideal bedtime routine and give it to your MIL. If she follows it great, if not let it go. I know that when I leave my children with my MIL she does some things differently than I would but that is the trade off for free and loving child care.


The sleep assistance your mom is giving your daughter is most likely the source of the problem, but you are getting free child care. If you have asked her to do it your way (the pediatrician's way) and she doesn't want to, you really can't do anything about it because she is doing you a huge favor. Because I wanted my children to put themselves to sleep and sleep through the night, I didn't let their Grandmas put them to bed.


Your loving mother raised a loving daughter - you! It is a wonderful thing to have a caring person loving your baby when you are busy. Your child will change again time after time. She will learn to fall asleep on her own and some kids are not good sleepers no matter how they fall asleep. Good luck. This, too, will pass!

NO! Do what you think is right! The same thing happened to me with my son. My mother in law doesn't watch him everyday, but she watched him over a 5 day vacation my husband and I went on. She did the same thing, rocked him until he fell asleep every night. My son, too, was used to putting himself to sleep. It only took us about a week to get him back on schedule luckily, and he is 1 year old. I love my mother in law so dearly and I know that she was just doing it because she loves him, but I let her know that that is not the way we do things and she was ok with that. Now when she watches him she will let him cry and go in every 5 min. or so just to make sure he's ok (without picking him up.) It might feel awkward to say something, but you have to do it. You already took the time to teach your daughter how to sooth herself and its really doing a big favor for her (and you!) :) I would guess since she is just 7 months old, it won't take as long as say a 1 year old child or older. GOOD LUCK!! And God Bless

Be grateful for your mom, she is smarter than your pediatrician. It is impossible to spoil a 7-month old. Besides, she is almost to the point where she's going to be experiencing major separation anxiety and she will need you more than ever during that phase or it will last forever. You need to find a different pediatrician in my opinion.

all kids are different...and have to be treated that way..i raised my kids alone...dad was worthless....be grateful for the extra hands...as my mom use to say...babies arent born with their own information package-you learn as you go.drs.follow a hand book...so to speak...your kids are hands on...each day is different.good luck....


Three months after having my twins I went back to work at my 3rd shift job. My husband was very nervous and rocked both of the kids to bed every night! At 18 months I quit my job to be with the kids and it took almost that long to get them into a routine to go to bed without being held, rocked, falling asleep and then putting them to bed. My advice is to stop it now! You don't want to run into the trouble that I had. (And don't be hard on your mom...she was just doing whatever it took...as was my husband!)
Good luck!
J. L.

I would not say that she is spoiling her but I would say a peditrician is right in telling you to get her used to going to sleep by herself.I would try to explain to your loving mom that when she goes to put your dd to bed to put her in her crib. And as far as night time bottles, I would start slowly taking her off of them. If you do put her to bed with a bottle though make sure not to put milk or formula in her bottle as it will cause tooth decay. I am speaking from experiance with this. I am not a peditrician but I do have 2 daughters of my own and I made the mistake of rocking both of my daughters to sleep, and boy it was hard to rock an almost 2 yr old when you are 8 months pregnant but she would not sleep any opther way. Hope this helps out.

I think you should go by what your doctor says, especially since after the age of one, it becomes so much harder to break them of this habit. My daughter was never a good sleeper and it was always a struggle to get her to fall asleep on her own. However, once I would get to that point, she would always revert after her Nana watched her because she would do the same thing. I don't think that what your mom is doing is wrong, but unless you want to keep up that habit, then it will become much more difficult for you in the future. If you don't want to have to feed her and cuddle her to sleep, then you and your mom need to get on the same page.

I would try to compromise with your mother. Let her snuggle and sing your daughter to sleep. Who wouldn't love that??? And it's GREAT for babies to feel that secure and lived. I doubt there's a college kid out there that still needs to be rocked to sleep....LOL. She'll get over it when she gets older.

As for the bottle. 1 bottle a night (if it's formula) should be enough. If your nursing and giving breastmilk, 2 is okay. Babies can digest that milk faster. Our 2nd (a boy) woke up till he was 18 months to breastfeed in the middle of the night. Mulitple times a night. But now he's 2 and sleeps GREAT!!!

We "spoiled" him -if you want to call it that by- holding him when he was a baby, reacted immediately when he cried, used a carrier instead of leaving him in his carseat, etc etc. He is WAY EASIER and more ADJUSTED to things than his 4 year old sister. I was doing daycare when she was a baby so she had to wait for things. She had to go down in her crib and I put her on more of a schedule. To this day, I believe that our 2 year old is just more easy going because he knew and still knows that we are RIGHT THERE FOR HIM.

It's truely a matter of preferance and "convenience" and the choice is up to you. But if your mother is providing a loving and secure enviroment for your daughter, there is nothing better! I've seen bad daycares out there and you don't want to have to put her in one just so she gets put to sleep in her crib!

DOCTORS DO NOT KNOW EVERYTHING. It is truely a pet-peeve of mine that people put doctors in the place of God. They are human too. What they recomend and prescribe this year is a big NONO next year. They are constantly changing their minds. You are the mother. You have more of a right to make the decisions concerning your child than they do.

Good luck.

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