Giving Babies what They Want Isn't Spoiling Them
Giving babies what they ask for isn't spoiling them. Responding to their demands is the only way to raise healthy, autonomous children.
Mothers need to keep giving babies what they want – you’re not spoiling them.
Don’t sleep with them, you’ll make them dependent. Stop holding them, you’re spoiling them. Why do you keep nursing them? They only use you as a pacifier…
Mothers face these and many other harsh and cruel statements every day. Divided between instinct and the opinions of others, many of them sink into a sea of confusion and guilt. If this is your case, don’t stop following your gut.
To face motherhood in the best possible way and, above all, to enjoy it, you have to remember that you’re the mother. You can consult professionals, seek information, or ask your loved ones for their opinion. But, in the end, you decide how to raise your children.
On many occasions, your instinct and intuition give you the answer. And, one way or another, our little ones let us know what they need from us. Why, then, should you silence the only two voices that count in order to pay heed to those of others?
At some point, we begin to attribute to babies’ intentions and cognitive abilities that they don’t possess. We think they look for us and demand our attention, affection or care because they want to manipulate us. We think they are “pulling our legs” or “taking advantage of us.”
It’s essential to understand that babies haven’t reached sufficient cognitive development to carry out such complex thought processes. What’s more, we need to understand that, if they cry, if they ask for something, it’s because they need it.
On many occasions, mothers repress their urge to comfort their babies for fear of spoiling them. In other words, they fear that the little ones will become extremely dependent or insecure because of this “excess care.”
Paradoxically, however, the opposite is true. Psychologist Rosa Jové, an expert in child-rearing and psychology, is very clear on the subject. She states that if you want your child to be autonomous, then pamper them as much as you can while they’re small.
Indeed, the bond of attachment established during the first months and years of life is the basis on which a healthy personality is built. A secure attachment is the safety net a child will have to explore the world without fear. It’s what will allow them to develop with confidence, without fears and unmet needs.
However, for this attachment to be properly established, the mother’s job (or that of the main attachment figure) is essential. She must be able to detect her baby’s needs and respond to them consistently. And little ones need to know that they have love and protection at all times in order to develop their independence and autonomy progressively.
When children become insecure, fearful or dependent, it’s because they’ve not received what they needed during their first years. And they’ll spend their lives restless and anxious, trying to seek and obtain what they lacked at such a crucial time. Therefore, pamper your little one and give them what they ask for. This is the true path to independence.
So, learn to listen to your baby and give them what they ask for. Every child is a world of their own, with their own personality and their own rhythms. If your baby asks you to hold them, do it with joy. If they want to breastfeed, breastfeed them with love and enjoy that special, intimate moment between you two. If your baby needs your presence and contact at night, don’t be afraid to sleep with them.
Do what you feel and do it without guilt or remorse. Because all the love you give them will be transformed into the security they need to grow up healthy.
Similarly, if your little one needs space or asks for independence, you should give them that, too. Some babies prefer to sleep alone and express their discomfort when they’re lying down. Some children are more adventurous and exploratory, so let them explore. No two toddlers are alike, so the key is to know and understand your child.
In the end, if we pay attention, our little ones will show us what they need and when they’re ready to make changes and progress. In the meantime, enjoy the experience of watching them grow; give your babies what they ask for and shower them with love. This can never be harmful.