We’ve all heard the bizarre take on “spoiling babies” — the (often-unsolicited) opinion that, if a baby receives too much attention, is held too much, or is comforted when crying, they will turn into clingy kids unable to function without Mommy or Daddy at their side. One Reddit user got an earful from a fellow mom that she considers her friend, and other users are confused by the woman’s rather neglectful opinion.
The Reddit mom explained that she was telling her friend that she tries to keep her 5-month-old son from crying as much as possible. In response, her friend said that she’s “babying him” and “wants him to be a baby forever,” which is “making him codependent and reliant” on her.
“He’s a baby though,” the original poster (OP) wrote. “Like he can’t say to me that he’s hungry or his diaper is wet or he’s tired. He’s going to cry to communicate what’s bothering him at the moment so I have to respond.” She added, “I don’t understand though how I can be babying a baby. Like, I mean.. he’s an infant.”
The mom explained that she took what her friend said “with a grain of salt” because that woman’s strategy for her 10-month-old’s crying is to “yell [at] and reprimand” him. “I just let it go because as mothers we all individually have to live with our parenting decisions regardless of what everyone else thinks or says,” OP wrote.
She then added a huge ding ding ding statement: “All that occurred to me when she said that is what I learned in my human growth and development course in college. Neglected babies eventually stop crying because they know their needs won’t be met. If my son cries for me it’s because he knows I’ll come take care of him.”
Fellow Redditors couldn’t agree more with OP’s perspective. Some were cheeky, with one person quipping, “How dare you baby a literal baby?” Another wrote, “Babying him? Lol, he is a baby. Yelling at and reprimanding a 10-month-old for crying is insane. Babies cry. It’s literally their only way to communicate before they can speak.”
Another individual commented, “You are correct about the neglect. At your baby’s age, they need to learn the world is a safe and predictable place. You do this by responding to their needs. You CANNOT SPOIL AN INFANT!”
They continued, “You are currently setting baby up for secure attachment once object permanence sets in. Secure attachment will allow for more independence in the long run.”
Research shows that it is not possible to spoil an infant. According to Sanford Health, “There is no scientific evidence that responding to crying causes a baby to be clingy. In fact, child development research shows that responding to your baby’s cries has the opposite effect.”
They notably add, “Warm, in-tune, responsive relationships are what actually help your baby feel emotionally safe and secure. If your baby is met with consistent, predictable, and nurturing interactions, your baby will be less whiny and clingy.”
In agreement, The Early Learning Institute asserts that “babies do not possess the cognitive ability at their age to manipulate a situation such that ‘if I cry then I will get x.’ A baby is not ‘playing’ a parent at this age. What they need is to be fed, cuddled, a diaper change, or interaction.”
Mayo Clinic also encourages parents “[Not to] worry about spoiling your baby with too much attention,” point blank stating, “You can’t.” The medical organization says it’s normal for babies to spend 1-4 hours crying each day for various reasons, all of which relate to wanting their needs met.
We could go on and on, listing reputable resource after resource that proves it’s impossible to spoil a baby, but we think you get the idea, and if not, you’ve got Google at your fingertips as well. Moral of the story: ignore those claims from Aunt Sue, your friend with their own childhood trauma, and the Facebook mom shamers about spoiled babies needing to learn to self-soothe so they don’t turn out clingy. You won’t find a single child development expert who agrees with them, so keep doing you, Mama.
Before you go, check out these unbelievable stories about Reddit’s worst dads.
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