Is my eight month old spoiled?

My daughter is 8 months old. Everyone always told me that you can not spoil a child under the age of one. I seem to think that my daughter is spoiled. I can't ever get anything done during the day. She always wants to be right next to me. When I try to put her in her playpen she screams. So, I try and hurry what I have to do and rush to pick her up. I feel like I am deserting her. I don't want her to feel like I am not coming back for her.

I am a new, single parent and don't know what to do. Should I still be allowing her to sleep with me. I don't mind but everyone I talk to says that she should be sleeping in her own bed. If I let her stay how and when should I start to put her in her own bed. Sorry, this is so long. I don't have many friends and just want to get some answers.

Thanks for your help.


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

Dear Jessi,

You are by no means spoiling your 8 month old baby when you sleep with her or pick her up to carry her around with you during the day!

Young babies need to feel physically attached to their primary caretakers in order to develop a sense of basic trust and security in the world. Over the next 2 1/2 years your daughter will develop what is know to child psychologists as "object constancy" which means she will be able to feel your caring for her, even when you are not there. However, developmentally, that is yet a long way off!

Do not despair! Simply lower your expectations of what must get done in your day. You can continue to do the daily chores that need doing, but your pace will be greatly reduced by doing them with her very close by. This is not a punishment. It is parenthood! And though it seems as if it will go on forever, it does not. Your child will develop into a self-assured toddler, and then a small child, incrementally, but inevitably, by age 3 years. If you devote your attentions to satisfying her needs in the first year, you will succeed at helping her to develop basic trust. Through the next two years, if you work to meet her emotional needs and set appropriate limits which cause her to master her sense of independence, you will have the ability to do your work increasingly separate from her.

But you are not an endless nurturing source, I know! You do have needs of your own, and single motherhood without many friendships may be weighing heavily upon you.

Seek out a mothering group with other mothers, some of which are also single. Develop a support network for yourself so that you are able to pursue some of your own goals. Whether you take a class, date, or develop an involvement in community projects, you need more validation and companionship than your baby alone can give you.

Connecting with other single Moms will lighten your expectations of yourself in these early developmental years with your baby. You will see other Moms struggling to get things done and meet their child's needs for closeness. Take the time you need away from her to recharge, so that you have greater patience for her dependency when she is with you.

And remember, these early years will never come again. You have a right to enjoy the closeness she seeks with you now, for she will not always want you this close. Before long, she will be seeking her own friendships and activities independent from you. Childhood yields to adolescence which gives way to adulthood. Gradually, but surely she will need her separation from you. Enjoy her need for you now, for it will gradually disappear. Like time-lapse photography, we need to imagine a sense of ourselves in time. Imagining her growth over the next 17 years is crucial to keeping a sense of change and growth alive... in order to appreciate the moment!

And if you do the job well, she will choose to be connected to you in her adulthood, when love and friendship with you is an independent choice.

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