Research Shows You Can’t Spoil A Baby

Before I launch into it, please remember this is just my opinion based on research I’ve done. You can all do whatever you want as a parent, because ultimately you are the parent and you know what works best for you and your baby …

I struggled hugely with parenting and becoming a Mother, but my instincts told me that although I needed sleep, and felt like I needed to do the laundry; my child’s sleep and well-being was more important than any of that.

So I let my child sleep on me during the day, and tried my best to get them to sleep in their own bassinet at night (although we know that doesn’t always work out, so she ended up sleeping on me anyway).

We didn’t co-sleep, instead I had a rocking chair we would snuggle into.

Ronan (my second child) slept on me more than my first, because with my first I had no idea what I was doing. However that didn’t stop the comments from coming in …

Don’t let her sleep on you, she’ll form a habit and it’ll be hard to break – you’re spoiling her

That baby is manipulating you by crying, they know you will pick them up when they cry

Don’t give her a dummy, she needs to learn to self settle by herself

These are all comments that were said to me when I had a newborn baby right up until she was a year old. Basically telling me that not only am I spoiling my child, but I’m setting them up with terrible habits that they’ll never be able to break.

It was rough, and one of the reasons I struggled was that this child was so dependant on me (and rightly so), and I received so much judgement from around me.

However, looking back on this time, I personally feel that you can’t spoil a baby.


After a baby has spent 9 months (or thereabouts) in a nice little warm cave, they come out and are exposed to a new world. They have no ability to speak and they can only communicate through crying.

Everything is new for them; but YOU are their one constant.

They’ve been inside you and know you. They know your voice, your smell; and now they’ll know your touch.

Your skin on your baby’s skin does so many amazing things: your baby’s breathing, heart rate and temperature will all stabilise after birth because of your touch.

Even if you don’t get that initial skin to skin moment, you will help them relax by being close to them; by holding them. This continues throughout their LIFE.

Picking your baby up, and comforting them, doesn’t mean their cries are manipulating anyone; it means they need you for something and you being their parent and attending to them.

It reassures them that when they call you, you will answer.

Just like when my own kids call me now at ages 4 and 6 – if they say Mum (no matter how annoying), I answer. When they cry, I go and see what is wrong.

Research I’ve done here and here has shown that my instincts were right; babies do need to be held when they cry. Holding them is actually hugely important for their development and their health.

One of the papers I read was all about Kangaroo Mother Care – which is used for preterm and low birth weight infants. “It took the long view, looking not just at the immediate effects of holding preemies against your skin in their early weeks, but also how it affected these babies 20 years down the road.

The babies who experienced skin-to-skin had higher IQs, significantly larger areas of grey matter in the brain, and even earned higher wages at their jobs than those who did not experience skin-to-skin care. The skin-to-skin cohort also showed less propensity toward hyperactivity and aggression in school and were less likely to experience school absences“.

As I said, not all parents and babies get the skin-to-skin experience (I didn’t hold Ronan immediately after birth), especially in those first few hours after birth. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that your children will turn out any less brilliant or well adjusted.

Another paper I read stated that during the first three months of a baby’s life, if they were held they fussed less. Responding and attending to your baby’s cries, meant they settled easier, and were happier.


When it comes to habits being formed (such as a baby sleeping on you, or a dummy being used), my experience has shown that ultimately YOU are in control of this.

No habits, in my personal opinion, can be formed that can’t be changed.

Sure it might take time to change something, but you can do it. Ensuring your child is happy and settled comes above everything and they will eventually learn they can do it themselves. Sometimes, however, they need extra help.

What you have to do is remember that you are the parent and you can change ANYTHING that you start. It might take time, but you can change it.

My kids eventually slept in a bassinet and then in a cot, and finally in a bed.

They used a dummy until we decided they didn’t need it anymore.

So I personally believe you can’t spoil a baby, and habits at that young age aren’t something to worry about. What do you think?

Do you agree or disagree?


You Can’t Spoil A Baby

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