can you spoil a newborn?

can you spoil a newborn?

What does that even mean? I hear this all of the time. I call the early newborn phase the 4th trimester. I’m not sure exactly of the anthropological facts but I usually explain that newborn humans were supposed to gestate a little longer but when homo sapiens became erect the shape of the pelvis changed and therefore we could no longer fit bigger babies. Hence the 4th trimester. With that said, I believe there is no way to spoil a newborn. They are supposed to still be cozy in the uterus! 

Pediatricians and child psychologists agree. Newborns cry because they need something. They do not have the capacity to be manipulative. This is their developmental stage for communication. Our job is to comfort them or ask someone else to comfort them if we need to take a minute. See what I did there? - ask for help! Research states that it is not until 9 months of age when a baby understands that crying can get them attention.  

Did you know a typical infant cries about 3 hours a day, more if they have colic? They may be tired or hungry or uncomfortable or cold. I know, how could they possibly still be hungry! I recommend going through this decision tree when your baby cries. Is there a dirty diaper? Could they be hungry? Or the most common - do they need some good ol’ fashioned TLC?  

This is where I explain that I love baby wearing. In some cultures around the world babies are carried on their parents backs until they can walk. This is for protection and comfort. Luckily we have safe places to put our baby down (on their back) to sleep so we don’t need to do this 24/7 but wearing your baby can really be a game changer. I wore my children all day everyday. I could say it was 100% for their development but honestly it makes life so much easier and it is super cozy. Wearing your newborn regulates their temperature, regulates their heart beat, helps with the transition from the inside to the outside and may decrease crying time in babies with colic. Also, the skin to skin contact can even increase your milk supply at the beginning.  

In conclusion, I strongly believe you can NOT spoil a newborn. Sure, one day in the near future you will need to teach your baby to go to sleep on their own, but when they are new to the outside world why not recreate the womb. 

About the Author: 

Dr. Barbara Frank is a Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and is affiliated with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Brookline Village OBGYN. She is also a faculty member of Harvard Medical School. Dr. Frank lives in Boston and is a wife and mom of two young children.

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