There's something so comforting and sweet about holding a baby, smelling their "new baby" smell and hearing their soft breathing. So I hold my baby every chance I get and wear my him in a carrier when I am out and about. It seems like everyday, though, someone suggests I put down my baby, saying, "Be careful, you don't want to spoil him." I take their caution with a grain of salt, because you definitely aren't "spoiling" your baby by holding them, feeding them on demand, wearing them in a baby carrier, picking them up when they cry or reach for you, or co-sleeping with them in the same room.
Why? Because it's virtually impossible to spoil a baby. What does that even mean, anyway? What makes a baby "spoiled?" Wanting to be held? Expecting to be fed when they are hungry or changed when they are wet? OMG they are so needy, those babies! Yes, they are, because that's how babies are supposed to be. They're literally tiny bundles of needs, wants, feelings, and poop. They don't have the ability to be "spoiled." Even if it feels like it sometimes, it's not as if your baby has the cognitive ability to want more from you or manipulate you into doing something you don't want to do. That, my friends, is called projection. Babies don't work that way.
Now, please don't misunderstand, I don't think parents need to hold their baby all day long for their baby to be healthy and to establish a long-lasting bond. It's totally OK to put the baby down if you are tired, need a break, need sleep, don't want to hold them while you poop, or are so completely touched out at the end of the day that it makes your skin crawl. You won't mess your kid up if you need to take a break, it's just that you won't spoil them if you decide to snuggle with them all day long while you binge watch The Handmaid's Tale. The way I see it, not a damn bad thing can come from meeting your baby's needs, as long as you are taking care of your own needs, too.
Holding Them All Day
Baby snuggles are the best. I honestly can't get enough. In fact, I am snuggling a baby as I type this.
Because we tend to expect too much of new moms in our culture, so many of us feel guilty for snuggling a baby all day long. That needs to stop. If the only thing you did was hold your baby today, it was enough. It's a good thing, and it certainly won't spoil them.
Holding your baby is actually pretty important in their early days, especially skin-to-skin, which, when done safely, can help regulate their body temperature and breathing, help you bond, help both of you relax, and help establish breastfeeding.
One thing it won't do: spoil your baby.
Feeding "On Demand"
While some parents and "experts" expect babies to eat on a schedule, that's not only unrealistic, it might actually be bad for baby. When you respond to your baby's hunger cues instead of forcing the to wait to eat at scheduled intervals, you teach them to trust you and that you'll respond to their needs accordingly.
While babywearing is not for everyone, it can make your life so much easier. Keeping your hands free to do other things, while also holding baby close, won't spoil them. In fact, they just might benefit from staying close to their parent while they knock off some things on the ole to-do list.
People think I sleep in the same room with my baby because I'm a pushover and want to spoil them. Really, I do it because I am lazy and don't want to walk across the house in the middle of the night. I'm also informed, and have read the American Academy of Pediatrics' guidelines and know that this will reduce his risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Responding To Their Cries
While I totally don't judge parents who sleep train their babies, because sleep is important, I, personally, can't stand to listen to my baby cry. That doesn't mean I spoil him, though. It just means that I try my hardest to comfort him when he cries, and to make sure he knows I will always be there for him.
If people think I am weird for babywearing, they definitely judge me for co-bathing. If anyone is spoiled by co-bathing, though, it's me. I get to clean my baby, take a shower, and get some quality snuggles. It's the best.
Picking Them Up When They Cry
Authors Michael and Debi Pearl advocate for emotional conditioning from an early age, using physical abuse to teach even young babies limits of their small worlds. This is super disturbing, but they found that If you hit a baby every time they crawl off of a blanket, pretty soon they will learn not to leave the blanket.
As parents, I believe it's our job to teach our children that they can rely on us by responding when they cry. That's not spoiling them, it's called parenting.
Literally Everything Else
The fact is, you guys, it's impossible to spoil a baby. Babies are basically little bundles of love. If you hold them, feed them, and respond to their needs, they won't learn anything more than the fact that they can depend on you, which, when you think about it, is exactly the kind of message most of us want to send our kids.