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Question

Our babysitter complains that my baby cries for someone to hold him all day long. I don't believe that holding a 6-month-old periodically throughout the day will spoil him, and it sounds like our babysitter does everything except hold him. Is this normal? Should she hold him more often or is his time alone helping him become more independent?

Answer

Darlene MacAuley Replied: First, I want to acknowledge you for seeking support. I can imagine how distressing it can be to have a caregiver for your child not value what you do, and for you to question this professional.

Babies at this young age cannot be spoiled. At this age, he is seeking assurance that he can trust and feel comfortable with his parents and caregivers and that they will be there when he needs them. Babies don't think like adults do and are unable to rationalize like an adult can.

As a parent of two children, I kept my children close to me much of the day by wearing them in a sling. It kept my hands free, it kept them up at my level so they could see what was going on and what I was doing, and we were physically connected too. After several months, more often than not, they wanted to get DOWN, not stay up. They knew I would always be close by, and they trusted that they could explore away from me, returning for love and comfort when they needed it.

As a new parent, I received two bits of advice that I kept in the back of my mind - a need that is fulfilled goes away, and something that is spoiled is put up and left on a shelf, ignored.

Many years later, I say I'd have to agree.

If you believe that holding your baby throughout the day is important for your child (which yes, is reasonable and normal), and your babysitter has a different belief system, you'll need to decide how that sits with you and what you want to do about that.

I'm including some links to the articles of two doctors/experts who talk about "spoiling".

Warmly,

Darlene
Posted On 2009-07-27 13:15:13
Aileen McCabe-Maucher Replied: Babies crave love, attention and physical contact. Since a six month old baby cannot yet verbalize his needs for food, sleep, and comfort he will naturally attempt to get his needs met by crying. Although it is vital to teach a child self soothing skills, it is just as important to be responsive to their cries. Research indicates that infants that are deprived from physical contact have slower growth rates and are at risk for developing sensory related issues. It sounds like an open and straighforward talk with your babysitter is in order. Communicate your desire to have your child held periodically throughout the day and if the babysitter insists that simply holding your baby will spoil him, you may want to consider an alternative childcare arrangement. It may be helpful to schedule snuggling sessions throughout the day and evenings. If you have not already done so, create a soothing bedtime routine with your baby that includes lots of comforting touch and nuturing. Most babies and small children thrive on routine and incorporating regular touch into this routine is essential. Baby massage is one great way to reconnect with your child at the end of the day, promote good sleep habits and enhance bonding.
Posted On 2009-07-27 07:35:49
Jill Wodnick Replied: Dear One: Thank you for writing in and sharing your concern. Meeting the developmental needs of your infant through being responsive is the highest priority of any caregiver. It sounds, quickly, like you know that instinctively, that your caregiver may NOT be philosophically aligned with your mothering preferences. I want to applaud and affirm your heart: picking up and responding to a baby does NOT spoil that little one, but builds engaging and healthy foundations for a lifetime; spoiling is saying yes to a third lollypop-picking up and responding to a the needs of a baby or child is the most essential art of caregiving. I urge you to find your voice and communicate your needs--NOT how your caregiver wants to respond, but how you as an employer are hiring that person to respond to your needs.
Posted On 2009-07-26 18:42:33
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