For years, countless well-intentioned paediatricians and friends have told parents not to spoil their babies by picking them up too much; “they need to learn to self-sooth,” and “they’ll never fall asleep on their own if you’re always carrying them” are common phrases among mommy groups. Well, good news parents: babies don’t spoil! In fact, new research out of Notre Dame actually shows that the more you hold, cuddle, and rock your baby, the more well-rounded they are likely to be as an adult.
Research pshycologist Darcia Narvaez studied more than 600 adults, and she found that those who received plenty of snuggles, and free play as children were far more likely to be happier, and experience fewer mental health issues in later years than those who grew up in rigid, less affectionate households.
“What parents do in those early months and years are really affecting the way the brain is going to grow the rest of their lives, so lots of holding, touching and rocking — that is what babies expect. They grow better that way. And keep them calm, because all sorts of systems are establishing the way they are going to work,” noted Narvaez.
Navaez suggests that parents should hold their babies as much as possible, and always respond to their cries. Her findings go against the controversial cry-it-out sleep training method that many sleep experts suggest for weary parents:
“If you let them cry a lot, those systems are going to be easily triggered into stress. We can see that in adulthood, that people that are not cared for well tend to be more stress-reactive and they have a hard time self-calming.”
Of course, this isn’t to say you’re a bad parent if you have to let your baby cry every once in a while. But, it is good news that you should never have to defend yourself for wanting to cuddle those sweet bundles as much as you can. After all, they’re only little once.