I mentioned the topic of my last post to my mother, and she said, “I rocked all of my children to sleep and they never became dependent on it!” So to clarify my point, it wasn’t that rocking/nursing/whatever you do is wrong – it’s not, it’s wonderful!- just to be aware that always doing something can lead inadvertently to habits that can be hard to break.
Last night my oldest son somewhat jokingly looked at the baby I was holding during dinner and told me he’s getting spoiled by being held so frequently. I smiled at him and said, “You turned out okay!” My son didn’t mean this seriously, but I have frequently heard the idea that a baby becomes spoiled by too much holding. But babies have needs, like everyone else, and being held and loved is a true need. Babies in orphanages were shown to waste away and often die due to emotional neglect – they were physically cared for but didn’t get the emotional nurturing that is so crucial.
Holding a baby and being attentive to his needs isn’t spoiling, it’s responsible and loving parenting. Ditto with older children – it’s not too much time and attention that spoils a child, it’s the lack of proper discipline and boundaries. Too many parents in the name of being loving don’t provide their children with the boundaries that would make them more secure and balanced.
Holding a baby helps him feel secure and loved, and as a baby gets older, his need for holding so much of the time decreases. As he gets older, he wants to get down and explore the world around him, and wants you to be there when he needs you – not any different really, than young adults!