Is my baby spoiled?

How much is it OK to cuddle a baby?  Henry is eight months old and he is very affectionate.  I love to hold him.  Some people have called him a "lap baby" and say that I shouldn't hold him so much and that he’s going to get spoiled.  Could there be a problem if I keep holding him?

Don’t worry! It's pretty unlikely that you are giving your baby too much cuddling.  Most older babies and toddlers are very effective at refusing cuddling when they're not in the mood.  In fact, a frequent disappointment expressed by parents of young toddlers is, "My baby won't let me cuddle him anymore!"  Any child who is old enough to crawl or walk won't stay still for a parent cuddling him unless it's the right time and he's in the right mood.  So the simple answer to your question is to let your son tell you if he doesn't feel like sitting in your lap.

However, if you are getting a lot of comments about “cuddling “ your child too much, it's possible that family or friends are trying to tell you something else. Give some thought to the following possibilities:

If Henry is upset do you give him time to come to you for comfort or do you always go to him right away? As babies get older they are often able to work out their own distress fairly quickly if given a moment to recover.  If Henry calls for you or holds his arms out, you can be pretty sure that he wants you to comfort him.  But if you always scoop him up for a cuddle before he has a chance to sort things out for himself he may not learn that he can soothe himself.

Do you hold Henry to help him fall asleep and to return to sleep several times during the night?  Cuddling at bedtime is wonderful for parents and children, but some children develop a falling asleep habit and then cannot fall asleep without a parent holding them.  This habit can be rough on a parent's ability to get a good night's sleep.

Is your partner or another child in the family getting less cuddling because of your time with Henry?  Sometimes a mom spends so much of her day being cozy with her youngest that she doesn’t notice what other family members might need. Her husband or older child might say, "You hold the baby too much," but what they really mean is "I want some attention and you don't seem to have time for me." 

If none of these possibilities seem likely, then Henry is just a cuddly baby and you're a lucky mom.  Most parents look back on the early years of their children's lives and miss the warmth and closeness of cuddling.  Enjoy him while you can.