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Myth Buster: Spoiling a Baby

MYTH  You can spoil a newborn if you pick him up every time he cries.

TRUTH The belief that an infant will use bawling as a manipulative tool just isn't backed up by the facts.

"Newborns don't have the mental capacity to know that crying gets a response," says Charles Shubin, M.D., director of the Children's Health Center at Mercy FamilyCare, in Baltimore. Infants usually cry because they're wet, hungry, or uncomfortable in some other way. Sometimes they sob simply because they want to be held.

If you've checked his diaper and ruled out other possible irritants but he still cries inconsolably for more than five minutes, call your doctor, says Dr. Shubin. Extended crying for no apparent reason can mean your baby is in pain or sick. There's a point, at 4 to 6 months, when your baby will learn that howling will bring you running, so give him a few minutes to stop on his own.