During a coaching visit, I overheard an adult say as she picked up an infant, “I suppose you need to be spoiled today.” The caregiver had already fed and diapered the infant and every time she tried to put him down he would begin to fuss. What was he trying to tell her? He wanted to be held. Wanting to be held is highly associated with spoiling a baby, but this not the case. Being held is an important tool to help support and meet the needs of babies.
Love, attention, and interaction from parents and caregivers helps an infant develop a sense of self. When an infant is born, parents become attune with their baby and form an attachment. They develop a sense of what different cries mean and what their baby is trying to communicate. When a baby enters a group care setting, it is then up to the caregiver to learn what they can about the baby so they can in turn meet those needs. For example, this might include figuring out that a certain cry means he wants to be held.
Child care providers are part of the influences in an infants’ life. You are an important link in helping infants learn how to feel comfortable exploring their world. As you interact and form an attachment with an infant, they are learning! The give and take of coos, babbles, and the mimicking of facial expressions are early tools that teach infants about emotions such as happy, silly, and sad.
Consistency is the key when it comes to forming strong attachments and for infants to feel secure. There should be consistency in the way a child receives care, along with flexible daily schedules, primary caregiving, and appropriate expectations. They should be receiving the message that they are valuable and worthy of being in this world. As infants in your care grow into toddlers, their emotional development will be supported and they will learn to identify and express their feelings, develop self-awareness and self-regulation. They will be able to develop well socially as they learn about and relate to others around them. They will form empathy and learn how to solve conflicts and interact with peers and adults.
Infants are born ready to learn and become active explorers as they become mobile. In order for this to happen, they need to feel safe and secure in their environment. They also need for parents and caregivers to interact and engage with them. All of these things prime infants to learn about their spirit and help them to develop their sense of self as they grow. How can responding to the needs of an infant in this intentional way be spoiling a child?