There are few things I’ve heard more in the last year of being my baby’s mommy than “don’t spoil the baby.” I’m not sure I really understand the statement. If there’s anything I can say about the last year, it’s that I spoiled my baby and I’m proud of it.
When my first baby came home, she screamed and screamed every time she ate–which was like every five minutes. Lactose intolerant might as well be translated into “the most miserable 6 months of our lives.” We were told by the doctor that “babies just cry” and “my son cried for the first 9 months straight.” With all that wiseness seeping from our pediatrician’s pores, we continued holding her, bouncing her, cuddling her and flat-out giving her anything in hopes that she’d just be happy for a few minutes. Even after we switched pediatricians, identified the problem and got baby set to rights, I still spoiled my little girl, and I’m planning to keep it up. No matter what anyone says, I’m proud that I spoil my baby, and this is why:
- By giving my daughter the things she points at and says “eh” to, I’m encouraging her to explore and giving her opportunities to broaden her experiences. I’m also letting her learn how to win a battle. Because, look, she’s learning to argue, talk, point and everything all at once! How brilliant.
- By holding her every time she wants to cuddle, I’m reassuring her that I’m here for her, she’s loved and worth loving. I know it might seem like she wants to cuddle a lot to others. Or that she’s attached to me at the hip, but for that first 6 months of the “outside world” she was in terrible pain. She needs the reassurance. I’m happy to give it.
- By letting my daughter play with her food, or paint, or shaving cream, I’m just allowing her to get comfortable with feeding herself and become self-reliant. I can’t be afraid to let her get messy, be scared that she might squirt applesauce all over my carpet or frightened that she might (GASP!) get her shirt dirty. She doesn’t need those fears, so I let her run with crackers (I promise to draw the line at scissors).
- By letting her play with things that aren’t “toys” like a toothbrush, hairbrush, even my phone or basically anything she wants to touch, I’m allowing her to learn how to use these things. I’m encouraging her to figure out how to use real-life items. And getting her into great habits, as well as building some super-awesome problem-solving skills. She already brushes her teeth twice daily, knows how to talk on the phone, and plays pretend by feeding the dog make-believe food from her tea set. At 16 months. Amazing.
No matter what anyone says, I really do think that “spoiling” is in the eye of the beholder. Sure, my daughter throws periodic tantrums, but they’re quick, small and usually coincide with needing a nap. But even in doing that, she’s learning how to self-calm. It’s ridiculous, really, to me when other people say not to spoil my daughter. She’s not an apple or a cup of milk. She’s a person! And it’s ok to say “yes”.