You really can’t spoil a newborn

By Dr. Teandra Gordon, LMFT-S, Clinical Director—School-Based Behavioral Health

“Am I spoiling my newborn? It’s a worry that many parents have. Despite advice to the contrary from well-meaning relatives or friends, the truth is, it’s impossible to spoil a newborn. Giving hugs, kisses, closeness, and warmth provides children with the security they need to develop optimally. There is actually no such thing as too much love!

You can’t spoil a baby by holding them when they cry. In fact, responding to their cries is exactly what your baby needs. Infants cry for many reasons. They may be hungry or wet or cold. They may even need to be burped. But sometimes, newborns just simply want to be held close and comforted. Crying is their signal to you that they need your attention.

The parenting relationship is a human-to-human connection that begins at birth and endures throughout a lifetime. From the moment they are born, children are in need of the presence, consistency and communication of a loving caregiver.

The connection between parent and child is significant. The security of the parenting relationship is based on a foundation of unconditional love. Human development researchers have even attributed the formulation of the human personality to the infant-caregiver connection.

When caregivers provide nurturance, closeness and responsiveness to the needs of their infant, those infants develop a secure attachment to their caregivers. And when infants have a secure foundation, they experience safety, which allows them to explore their world, take risks, and develop in a way that helps them to actualize their potential as human beings.

So snuggle or hold your newborn as much as you can or as much as he or she needs. In the long run, both you and your baby will be glad you did!

Dr. Gordon is the author of “Purpose Filled Parenting.” Published in 2017, the book was written to show parents that great kids don’t just happen but must be fostered in an environment in which they can shine. Dr. Gordon is a licensed marriage and family therapist and serves as clinical director of Legacy Community Health’s School-Based Behavioral Health program.