Is There Such a Thing as Spoiling a Child?

Updated on February 20, 2008
L.E. asks from Hayward, CA
10 answers

I have a 2 1/2 month old baby and was told not to pick him up everytime he cries or gets fussy otherwise he will get used to being held all the time. He has a real hard time falling asleep on his own and cries/screams when he is tired and cannot fall asleep. My husband would rock him to sleep and that would work but i'm afraid that if he keeps doing that he may never know how to soothe himself to sleep. Need advice on how hekp my baby soothe himself when he is tired so that is not as fussy.

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So What Happened?

Hi everyone, thank you for all your advice and reassurance. I feel so much better and more confident in taking care of my baby boy.

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answers from San Francisco on

My baby is the same age (11 weeks) and I put him to sleep each time either by breast feeding or by giving him his pacifier and rocking him to sleep. (He is able to fall asleep in the car or in the swing alone.) At this age I don't think you can spoil a baby. In the next few months they will learn to fall asleep on their own. But at this age, I don't think it is necessary to let them "cry themselves to sleep." They are still learning to trust that you are there for them when they need you. So good ahead... snuggle that little guy!

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answers from San Francisco on

No!!!!! You can't "spoil" a 2-1/2 month old and don't let anyone tell you any differently. Spoil the heck out of him! It will make him very secure in later life. If you have to start letting him soothe himself wait till he's at least 6 months. He's still too little. I gave in to my babies' every whim (I have three) for the first 6 months, and they are extremely self confident, happy, secure people (teens) now. When I knew they could go 8 hours without feeding, at about 6 months old in my kids' case, I let them cry it out and in 2 or 3 nights they were sleeping through the night.



answers from San Francisco on

NO!!! You cannot spoil a tiny baby!!! Eek--I don't know why there are still people out there that tell that myth to new moms.

If anyone tells you that you are "spoiling" your baby, tell them that all the latest research shows that babies who are held a lot (especially in the early months) and have their cries responded to promptly actually cry LESS, not more in the long run. This is because they are happy and secure. Babies whose needs haven't been met from early on average tend to be whiny and clingy later as children. There are longterm effects into adulthood as well--adults who were cuddled a lot as kids are much happier! Yes, there are a few babies who do stop crying to be held, but this is because their spirits have been broken and they know not to bother crying because no one will help them.

A happy and secure baby will eventually learn how to soothe him/herself to sleep. Try to get your baby to nap during the day so that he won't be overly tired at night. Establishing a standard bedtime routine will help. We would swaddle our son, rock him until he was drowsy, then put him down. If he started crying, we'd pick him back up and rock him again until he was almost asleep and put him back down. We repeated this until he fell asleep. Eventually we could put him in bed tired but awake and he'd go asleep on his own. Our son had terrible reflux and cried a lot for the first four months. But the is the happiest toddler now, cries less than most, sleeps almost 12 hours a night--and this is after we NEVER let him cry it out.

Check out He has a lot of advice on soothing fussy babies. Also, I like the "Happiest Baby on the Block" DVD because Dr. Karp demonstrates his soothing techniques.

Remember that this fussy phase will pass--even though it probably feels like an eternity right now! Good luck!


answers from Fresno on

Every child is different. You just have to trust your instincts and do what you feel is right. That said, I used the book "Baby Wise" with great success (as did many of my friends). It's a quick read and gives some great ideas about how to get tiny babies to sleep and learn to comfort themselves. It's mostly common-sense stuff but I found it reassuring and helpful!

Good luck with your little guy!



answers from Sacramento on

Hi L.,
I was told by our pediatrician that for the first 6 months you CAN NOT spoil a child. He told me to hold her as much as I wanted. I HIGHLY recommend "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" on teaching him how to self-soothe at nap and bedtimes. For the first 2 1/2 months of my daughter's life she slept on me for every nap and at night. I also carried her around in her Snugli while I cleaned house. She isn't what I would consider spoiled now at 2 1/2 yrs old. I did use that book to help teach her how to self-soothe and I feel she is a much more independent child for it. She can play by herself for a long time and has quite an imagination. Try the book for suggestions on setting up a healthy sleep schedule, it really works!
Good luck and hold that baby as much as you want!



answers from San Francisco on

No, you can not spoil a baby!!! The best "news" I ever read was that for the first year of life you should answer your baby's every cry. Every baby is different but they all have needs. Think about it like this…Your baby spent the first nine months of life hearing a heart beat, feeling physical vibrations all day long, in darkness, never hungry, always warm and in snug secure closeness. Now there is silence, light, cold, hunger and everything unknown. If you do not hold your baby and help him adjust to these changes and fears he is facing right now, then later he will have coping issues. Baby’s cry to tell us something is wrong. It could be as simple as being lonely or as serious as being hungry…which they have never been before. I am also not saying that babies should never cry. Just that there is a time, reason and place for letting them crying. A 2 1/5 mo old though NEEDS to be close to mom and dad. Help him learn to cope and sooth himself by rocking him to the same song every time and using the same CD to put him to sleep every night. Keeping a schedule so he learns to know what to expect. Or using a snuggy or pacifier to sooth with. There are lots of other tips, but best to ask for specific advice as needed then be bombarded with info you may never need!

And above all….ALWAYS follow your insticts!!! They will never let you down! And do what works best for YOU and YOUR family!



answers from Los Angeles on

I had the same concern when my son was around two months, but have been assured by my friends that you can not spoil a newborn. Most babies do not know how to soothe themselves right away. I did not want to give my child a pacifier because I was afraid he would get too attached. He is now 9 months old and will not take the pacifier unless he is about to go to sleep and even then it falls out about 5 min later and he is fine through the night. Go ahead and rock your child, it is very soothing and at this point he can not be spoiled.



answers from San Francisco on

Hi - I want you to know that I have 11 month old twins & for the first few months I held them both until they fell asleep, almost every night. Not so much for them, but for ME! =) Then my husband would take one to bed & I would take the other. They are VERY good sleepers, and started sleeping through the night around 2.5mos (well, 4-6hrs at a time)... Now they go to sleep in their cribs almost every night at 8pm, but no later than 9pm. I started this routine in their 10th month, just because they were getting a little older & I felt we were finally ready for a "bed time" =) You hold that baby for as long as you want, I wish I had those days back - and mine are only 11mos! They grow-up SO fast!! Good luck with your decisions in this area, but I defintely say to pick him up if he's crying at that age! =)



answers from San Francisco on

Please know that this is as natural as water - It will 'spoil' your baby not to continue answering his most basic needs in the way you have been doing which is great !!




answers from Stockton on

I absolutely do not think that you are spoiling your child by holding him all the time. Children need to know that they are safe in the arms of their parents. There are too many parents out there that believe they are spoiling their children by paying attention to them. All you have to do is look around you to see how crazy this world has become. Your child needs to know that you love him and are there for him when everything else is crazy around him. I have a 22 month old daughter who is my life. I rocked her to sleep everynight for about a year. I do not regret this at all. She does fine on her own now. Of course she is a little spoiled because she is an only child right now and I'm ok with that as long as she doesn't act rotten. I hope you continue to hold your baby as much as possible. They grow up so darn fast. This is such a special time for you to bond with him.
Good luck with everything and congratulations on your little boy!

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