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TN Parenting Expert: Go Ahead, “Spoil” the Babies

April 21, 2008

Nashville, TN – When babies are crying, go ahead and pick them up. No matter what you've heard, they can't be "spoiled," according to a Tennessee parenting expert who is sharing tips as part of April's "Month of the Young Child" activities.

According to Lysa Parker with Attachment Parenting International, research shows that early experiences "wire" the brain, and babies learn how to trust and be calm based on the responses of their caregivers. They are not capable of learning to soothe themselves, Parker explains. This is a behavior that parents and caregivers must model.

"We teach them how to regulate their emotions, by helping them and by responding to their extremes of emotion."

Parker says science has disproven the age-old advice of letting babies "cry themselves out." When it appears that a baby has learned to be calm, it's more likely that he or she has just given up. Some researchers, she adds, believe that type of response may be linked to mental health problems later in life.

Parker acknowledges that parents of colicky babies may want to give up on the idea of teaching calmness, but there are some new tricks that work almost every time.

"There's the security of wrapping the baby in the blanket. You hold the baby on its side, and you 'shush' in the ear to replicate the sound in the womb."

More tips are available online at

Deborah Smith/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - TN