baby cries -- a lot -- and you're frantic. You're not sure if you're supposed
to comfort her or let her wail.
not alone. Nearly a third of
parents know very little about what to expect from babies, according to a
University of Rochester Medical Center study. Your instinct may be to comfort
her, while friends and relatives warn, "No, you'll spoil her!" The question is,
can you spoil an infant?
"In a word, no," says Lawrence Balter, Ph.D., professor
of applied psychology at
University and author of Dr.
Balter's Child Sense. Spoiling means teaching someone to expect that her
every demand will be met whenever she makes it. "Babies under three months
exist in the present," says Balter. And because crying is your infant's only way of
telling you something's wrong, you need to attend to her so
she can begin to make the connection between her cries and your comforting,
which happens around 6 months of age. Even then, an older baby probably isn't
capable of manipulating you to get your attention, Balter says.
babies shouldn't have to wait for a response, either. "Too much stress on an
infant's nervous system -- such as crying continuously -- isn't healthy for her
development," says Balter. After three to six months, you can try stalling your
response a bit (with a gentle "I'll be right there"), but it's never a good
idea for babies younger than 6 months to "cry it out."
So trust your gut: Soothe your new baby when she wails. Turn a deaf ear to everyone's advice -- not your baby's