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Can You Really Not Spoil a Newborn?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Marlie wide-eyed newbornI framed the title of this post in the form of a question because I need answers. I think my two-and-a-half-week old is spoiled. All the current baby books and web sites I've read says this is impossible. These experts have not met my child. According to Dr. Karp (of Happiest Baby on the Block fame), newborn babies need lots of TLC because they are adjusting to life outside of the womb and need to feel safe and secure through constant comfort and attention. A quote on the kellymom.com site says, "when we are giving to our children out of love and enjoyment, then it is a positive...when we are giving to them because they have worn us down or we feel guilty, then it is a negative (spoiling)." Hmmm...

So, here's the situation. Marlie is breastfed. I feed her on demand, which means I watch her for signs she wants to nurse rather than follow a time schedule. This baby-driven feeding process has its pros and cons. One con is that I sometimes feel like a Jersey cow being milked all day and night, but I can live with that because I
love her and enjoy breastfeeding. The other drawback that I am struggling with is that Marlie is using my nipples to soothe herself to sleep. It has become very problematic at night when we are trying to get some rest. We swaddle, shush, and sway her until she drifts off and then put her in the co-sleeper. She'll be down for a minute, sometimes ten, before she has pulled a baby Houdini and gotten one or both arms out (and, yes, we wrap her tight). Then she starts to fuss. We don't want to give her a pacifier because we believe it is habit-forming. So what do I do? I let her suckle on my breast. Of course she falls right asleep in my arms and pretty much stays there all night. During the day she will only nap for an extended period if she in being cuddled and will cry if you put her down. I swear she has this self-satisfied smirk on her face when she is picked up and cradled. Does this mean she is spoiled? Or, is this just part of the growing pains of a baby's first few weeks? I know we need to be patient and get more practice in the 5 S's. I would do just about anything to make my baby happy. Still, I can't help but wonder if she is learning how to get her own way when we respond to her every cry. Not to mention my nipples and arms need a break. What are your thoughts? I need to hear from the experienced moms!


Mau said...

No pacifier, huh?

We tried that for a while. It lasted for MAYBE 2 weeks. I've talked to other parents and found that some babies just like to suck. Ax was one of those babies. He's almost 17 months, and he still loves his pacifier. He's not dependent on it, though. he is able to give it up. Sometimes.

That being said, I say give her the pacifier. There are ways of breaking the habit. The best I've heard (not tried YET, but planning to, when the time is right) is to cut the tip off the pacifier. This will totally change the way it feels in her mouth, and she probably just won't enjoy it. Then it will be her decision to not use it anymore.

Give her the pacifier. Rest your arms.

MedeirosATL said...

We always used the pacifier for Leah. Up until she was about 8 or 9 months, we gave it to her anytime she wanted it. From that point, until just after her 2nd birthday we limited the pacifier to naptime & bedtime. We did the paci-trimming technique just after her birthday. We had about 2 really rough bed times, then abut 2 weeks where it just took her forever to go to sleep. Now - no pacis & she goes right to sleep. I do highly recommend the gumdrop pacis you get at the hospital. Leah was so tiny, that this was the only one we used for the first 2 or 3 months. We ended up ordering extras off of the web,but I think some specialty baby stores carry them now too.

jmt said...

I have lots to say and don't want to invade too much space. But my thoughts are also not for every parent, as I've learned over time.

1. Except for late night nursings, baby is always jostled away at least for 15 minutes. So all day baby would have a feeding, be kept away for "play" and learning time, and then it was nap time. Eat, Play, Nap. All day long. 2 1/2 to 3 hour intervals. At the end of the day/evening, baby could eat and then be laid straight to bed. But no sleeping on the breast if possible.

2. We used a pacifier. Yes, they CAN be habit forming, but it's also a comfort to them that doesn't require constant nursing habits, which is/can be harmful as well. (milk sitting on gums, dependency on mother, etc). When baby grew teeth and was done nursing, pacifier was thrown away. Simple two day adjustment and voila.

3. Spoiling CAN happen. If you hold baby all day long, chances are baby may not like being held by someone else. Chances are baby may not learn independent play. Chances are baby becomes dependent, which becomes whiny toddler, which becomes bratty kid.

Just my opinions! :) I believe wholeheartedly that babies are MUCH tougher than any expert or grandmother gives them credit for. OF COURSE you should snuggle and love your baby. OF COURSE you shouldn't neglect their needs or cries for attention. But if they've been fed, cleaned, burped...sometimes...they just have to cry. Just like us women.

Kim @ What's That Smell? said...

I think can form "habits" with them that are harder to break, but I also think that each baby is different, and that at this age you can NOT spoil them.

I have 2 kids. My son, my first was just like Marlie. Nursed, fell alseep while nursing, and had to be held all day.

Try a sling

All babies are different and she is not going to want to be held any less just because you DON'T hold her. I really think that at this age if you show them you can meet their EVERY need, as they get older they have more confidence, even at 6 months old.

My daughter was very different. Would not sleep when held and if she did I could easily put her down in her crib and she napped like a champ.

But like I said, some of this can turn into habits that get harder to break as they get older. But HOLDING them is not spoiling them.

Oh and as for the pacifier, my son used one and is was a lifesaver and my daughter never would.

When I look at her at almost 2, all confident and laid back as a baby, she is more clingy and hesistant about new situations. My son all high needs and clingy at 2 was bold and brave and ready to take on the world.

They're all different.

You got a cuddler....she'll likely be President one day.

Teresa @ ♥ Too Many Heartbeats ♥ said...

After raising 3 daughters who were each very, very different babies, I strongly believe that you have to do what YOU think is best for YOUR baby, regardless of what the books say or what anybody else is telling you!

With that said, here are my two cents. ;0) If YOU think she NEEDS to be held and comforted, then do so. If you KNOW that all of her needs have been met, then I believe it is OK to let her 'fuss' a little while. It is good to let them learn to console themselves. However, if she fusses for more than a few minutes or gets to that high pitched, almost screaming cry, then I believe she needs to be held and comforted. I also FIRMLY believe in the pacifier. Newborns are born with the 'rooting reflex' AND a very strong 'sucking reflex'. The sucking reflex is present, of course, when they are nursing but it is also serves as a calming effect for babies. This urge is stronger in some babies than it is in others. Babies, particularly under 3 months, will want to suck in-between periods of nursing. If they are not able to, they will cry. This frustrates many new parents because they can not figure out what is wrong with their baby. So, if you don't want your nipples to be even more sore and to bleed, and you want some rest, then I would encourage you to let her have a pacifier. I promise you will have a much easier time of it! You can worry about getting her to give it up later. It really is not that difficult. We did it with ours and they are perfectly fine!

Good luck to you. I know you will do fine!

(BTW, Google 'the sucking reflex in infants' to read more about it.)


Teresa <><

The Redhead Riter said...

I'm hesitant to type anything because I know while I was a young mother, I didn't agree with anyone or any book and, therefore, when I did my own thing, I was ridiculed. But since Alyssa is 16, very confident, smart, loving, etc. I think I did the right thing for her. So here goes and if anyone wants to tell me I'm stupid, please read all my postings about my daughter and then see if you change your mind:

Part of breastfeeding is psychological and no matter what I did or used, I could not express the milk. That meant it was nursing straight from the breast every time.

Alyssa refused a pacifier with a vengeance.

She slept with me because it was easier to nurse her and because I wanted her close. I would fall asleep with her nursing and when I awoke, we switched sides. She nursed when she wanted. Lucky for me, she didn't grow ANY teeth until she was one. It was a miracle. She has all her teeth and they are straight (no braces) and as white as any actress.

During the day, she was in my pink snuggle thing hanging around my neck while I cleaned. When she wanted to nurse, I nursed her. It was a lot. I read a lot of books and memorized every single thing about her body and personality. I looked at her all the time. I was obsessed...LOL...but I wanted to KNOW her.

Alyssa rarely cried...honest truth and I know it is weird...she cried maybe once a week for a few seconds just to get my attention. She also never had any kind of sickness until she was two years old.

People were mad at me because I would not leave her with a babysitter or in the church nursery so that I could "have a life". They also couldn't stand that I held her all the time. I don't know why it bothered them since it was my life. Honestly, I couldn't think of anything I wanted to do more. It took me ten years to get pregnant, so I wanted a baby so much by the time I finally conceived. Basically, I ignored them and held her.

Actually, I think Alyssa needed lots of love and holding. I'm just thankful that I was able to stay home with her during those formative years. I don't feel like I missed out on anything. My boobs survived, LOL. As a matter of fact, there isn't a prettier breast than one that is filled with milk and I enjoyed all 18 months of breastfeeding!

So my well adjusted, honor roll, cheerleader, confident, taking college classes in high school, loving, gymnastic champion, beautiful, healthy, compassionate, considerate, kind daughter did not grow up to be bratty, never whined, didn't throw tantrums, still is willing to kiss me in public, doesn't smoke, doesn't drink, hasn't tried drugs....she has turned out pretty good.

Good luck with your decision. I would say, ignore everyone and ask Marlie.

The Redhead Riter said...

P.S. She is so beautiful wrapped up in the pink blanket! Her wide and aware eyes are enchanting!

Quan Morris said...

Audrey uses a pacifier. She sucked it all the time when she was born. However, now being 1, she usually doesn't ask for it all day, but at night she'll ask for it. I use the one from the hospital. I don't feel bad at all about giving it to her either. Now Kaylen, the grand-baby won't suck a pacifier for anything in the world, but she found her thumb, and likes it. Her dad sucked his thumb as a baby. Shinice didn't suck anything.

Serenityville said...

I can't help with the mommy advise but I'm loving your incredible, adorable photos and honest stories of your experience. Thank you!

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