Babies need attention and alone time for themselves. Consider these benefits of balancing giving attention with letting your baby play on his own.
One of my twins is chill—he’ll entertain himself and wait, in case I need to lay him down and do something else.
But his brother has a shorter threshold for patience. He gives—at most—ten minutes of playing alone before hollering for attention.
My husband and I have picked him up on certain occasions and let him fuss on others. So which method is right?
Why babies need attention and alone time
Here’s what I’ve learned: babies need attention and alone time. In fact, your whole family does. We’re their best ‘toys,’ and they love interacting with us. But they also need time alone to process, relax, and recover from stimulation.
The question of whether you’re spoiling your baby needs to be better phrased to: What expectations do you want to establish? Or how do you want to balance your baby’s needs with those of yourself, family, work, home, and your life?
Some of the times you don’t need to pick up the baby:
- You need to attend to a pressing chore. It’s totally fine to finish washing the last few dishes in the sink before you dry off and pick up the baby.
- Your older child needs you right away: Tend to your older child first is possible, such as when he needs help with the potty or has spilled a cup.
- You need to take care of your own needs: If you need to use the restroom, go ahead. Maybe you need to get ready, take a break, or otherwise take care of my own needs. Better yet, your baby can lay nearby as you describe what you’re doing.
At the same time, you can bring the baby with you for many of your tasks, such as:
- Sitting the baby on your lap while eating: Babies love sitting with us, even as we do regular tasks.
- Carrying the baby while doing one-handed chores: If your baby is fussy, carrying her around the house with you is an easy way to keep her entertained.
- Playing with the baby because you can do tasks another time: Sometimes it’s more convenient to focus completely on the baby, leaving other tasks for later such as nap or bedtime. With such a clear line of what you should or shouldn’t do, you won’t feel guilty one way or another for spending time with the baby or doing chores.
As with most things in parenting, moderation is the solution. Giving babies attention and time alone are both beneficial to them and ourselves.
Babies who get picked up right away aren’t able to learn to soothe themselves. Too much attention can overstimulate babies and deny them the time to enjoy being alone. Constantly carrying the baby keeps them from learning new milestones like rolling over. And bending to the baby’s every call might add unnecessary stress on ourselves.
But babies thrive on the right balance of attention from us. Their favorite entertainment aren’t mobiles, swings or the latest toys. It’s our faces (followed by animals’ faces). Babies love looking at our faces and learn about emotions, voices and expressions. Babies need us.
Maybe you wonder whether you’re giving too much attention because everyone says not to spoil the baby. Or you could use a break and are at your wit’s end trying to entertain your little one.
Do what feels right. If you want to cuddle the whole day and it just feels right, it probably is. And if you feel like your baby could use some time by herself, she probably could.
Strike a balance, do what feels right.
One of the twins can lay down on the floor by himself, and my eldest does great with independent play. But should I deny them my attention because their brother fusses more than they do?
Yes and no. When my “fussy” twin is hysterical, then I’m grateful his brothers can manage on their own so I can soothe him. But there comes a point where I need to balance his needs with those of his (quieter) brothers. They need me just as much.
That’s why it’s fine to “spoil” your baby when it feels right, when you enjoy it and when your baby wants and needs it. But it’s also just as fine to share your attention with other people and different aspects of your life.
Keeping track of all your baby’s latest feedings and diaper changes can feel overwhelming. Get a convenient way to track feeding and diaper times with my FREE printable tracker! Download it below:
- How to Teach Your Baby to Self Soothe
- How to Get Things Done with a Baby
- What to Do when Your Baby Needs to Be Entertained Constantly
- How to Involve Dads at Home: 8 Effective Ways
- Encourage Independent Play with Your Child
Do you feel like you “spoil” your baby? How do you balance your baby’s needs with meeting your own (or your other children’s)?
Track feedings and diapers
Need an organized way to track your baby's latest feedings and diaper changes? Download my FREE printable tracker to help you record feedings and diapers—no more forgetting! The set comes with templates for both breastfed and bottle-fed babies.