The first three months are all about doing what works.
There's no doubt that becoming a mama means putting your child's needs before yours. But sometimes it raises questions: Can I spoil my baby? Can I hold them too much? Will they get used to me rocking them to sleep and never go to sleep on their own?
The short answer is, for the first few months, no!
My first daughter was a pretty easy baby (I know this now after having two more not-so-easy babies), but she still had little quirks that I needed to tend to. For instance, she had bad acid reflux and vomited whenever we laid her flat, so I had to hold or prop her up.
Then there was my second daughter, who spent two straight months in a sling pressed up against my body and wouldn't sleep in anything but a moving swing. And my son, who lived for nine months in a bouncy chair at the foot of my desk while I worked. I bounced it with my foot for several hours per day through naps.
Two of my kids had binkies, blankies or both. I remember asking our pediatrician if any of these rituals would become habits. She quickly reassured me that the first three months are all about survival—to just do whatever the baby needs in order to get them to sleep. After about three or four months, she said, that's when you start to implement the kind of structure your family desires. And it turned out, she was right. None of those things I was worried about lasted more than a few weeks, or a few months at most.
Don't just take it from me. Take it from Dr. David Mrazek, chairman of psychiatry and psychology at the Mayo Clinic. He says, "During the first six months, it's really impossible to spoil a child. Meeting an infant's need to be comforted, held and fed in a predictable fashion helps him feel secure and builds a loving relationship between parent and child. It does not lead to spoiling." It's not until around six months of age that the possibility of spoiling even presents itself, he says. At that point, you can start to form the kind of life you want with your child.
Of course, there will always be a child who's harder to break from one thing or another, but most of those quirks that persist through newbornhood or toddlerhood live on forever. Sure, your toddler may climb into your bed every night for two years, but you know what? They will eventually stop. And the same goes for binkies. After all, does anyone know of a college student who needs to suck on a pacifier or be rocked to sleep at night?
The big-picture reminder is to chill out. As your child grows and changes, so will their needs. Now that I can look back at my own experience with three very different kids, I can tell you with confidence that even if you feel like rocking your little one to sleep for three or eight months seems like an eternity, it won't be forever. And later on, it will just be one of those anecdotes you tell about your kid. And maybe, just maybe, that "spoiling" moment you worry about is what will help them conquer the next big transition more easily.
Comfort, soothe and love up on your little one as much as you want, mama. Here are some of our favorite products to do just that.
Several Motherly editors credit the ubiquitous BABYBJÖRN bouncer with making the first months of mamahood manageable. After all, when baby is happy, mama is happy.
Well loved by many Motherly babies, the part lovey, part paci WubbaNubbs are great for soothing and easy for babies to keep hold of.
If carrying them around while you do all the things keeps everyone happy, go for it mama. We love the easy-on, easy-off design of the BABYBJÖRN carriers which allow you to carry little ones from 8-33 pounds in four different positions.
We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.
This story was originally published on September 23, 2019