Could your baby be spoiled?

I am a stay-at-home Mom. My seven-month-old daughter is very attached to me. She does not like for me to let her grandparents (or anyone else she doesn't see often) hold her. She frantically looks for me and cries until she is handed back to me or her dad. My in-laws have labeled her a spoiled baby, but I don't think she deserves that label. What do you think?

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Gayle Peterson

Gayle Peterson, PhD, is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development. She is a clinical member of the Association... Read more

Your daughter's behavior is normal. She is close to eight months old, an age that is noted for the classic "stranger anxiety." This means she has developed an attachment to primary nurturing figures and clearly recognizes and expresses a strong preference to be held by them. Your daughter is not "spoiled." She is doing her job!

Your baby is discerning who to trust and showing healthy attachment. Her attunement to you is based on survival, not manipulation. There is no need to push your baby to be with others, unless this becomes necessary for employment or other reasons.

Eventually, when you feel that she is ready to be introduced to other people, do so. But as long as the two of you are enjoying your parent-child relationship, don't strain it to please your in-laws.

Instead, ask your husband to stand by your side and gently, but firmly, set guidelines about his parents' criticisms. Let them know that you are both raising your child in a way that works for the two of you. Assure them that they are important people in their granddaughter's life and will certainly play a significant role. Tell them that you expect your daughter will be very interested in her grandparents by the age of two. But right now, she is more interested in her parents. Ask them to be patient rather than judgmental.

This is your family. You and your husband are the decision-makers. Consider others' advice, but do not override your own instincts and feelings about your parenting. Develop your child rearing philosophy and be willing to politely express that you have different beliefs, if necessary. You and her father know your baby better than anyone else. Trust your instincts to guide your judgment, rather than allow others to override it.

It is from your arms that your baby is experiencing the world as delightful and adventurous, rather than scary. Answering her needs for security now will result in greater independence later, when she and you are ready.

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