A common misconception is that if you can pick up your baby or respond to them ‘too much,’ you will ‘spoil’ them. If you carry this belief, it may be that you worry that your baby will not develop the ability to gradually do small things for themselves, that they will continue to need you almost all the time. We know from research that it is not possible to offer your little one too much love or too much care.

For a baby to grow up to be an independent adult, they need to have an experience of being safely dependent on someone. Every time they experience someone trying to understand their experiences, it builds up the part of the brain responsible for self-control. This means that it is not possible to expect a baby to control their behaviour because they don’t have the brain capacity to do this yet. The part of the brain involved in self-control only begins to develop in toddlerhood around two years old. Importantly, children are not able to develop these skills by themselves, it comes from their experiences with you.


We know that babies need to be responded to multiple times before they build up a sense of trust that somebody will come. It is this than then begins them to able to gradually mange feelings of frustration and waiting. The process of being consistently soothed by you lays the foundations for your little one being able to do this for themselves in later life. Babies who are responded to consistently and sensitively within the first 6 months tend to cry less overall. When infants experience sustained periods of distress they learn that their emotions cannot be managed and as adults are more likely to find other less helpful ways of managing their feelings. It also makes them more vulnerable to a range of later problems such as anxiety and depression. This can feel like a big pressure. However, noticing and responding to your baby is more important than always knowing immediately what they need.


Babies are born feeling uncertain about the world in which they live.  As a result, one of the main hopes for your baby over their first year and a half of life, is that they develop a sense of trust. This is worked towards every time you respond to your baby. For example, when your little one cries and you are able to respond to promptly and soothingly, then they experience being noticed and cared for, which builds trust. Babies need to be responded to many times before they develop that trust, and can tolerate waiting. If you think, if you miss lunch then you know you will be okay, as you can get something to eat a little later. However, babies don’t know this yet, they are completely at the mercy of their hunger, which is terrifying for them, as it is about survival. They cannot get food for themselves. If you are able to offer your baby consistent, predictable and reliable care, they will develop a sense of trust which they will carry with them into other relationships. By developing a sense of trust, they develop hope that as difficulties arise, there is a real possibility that other people will be there as a source of support.


If you find that your baby cries a lot, that crying itself is really hard for you to bear and you feel frustrated, upset or overwhelmed, it is okay to take some time out until you feel calmer. Putting your baby in a safe place like their cot, asking someone else to hold them for a while, going into another room to breathe deeply or calling a family member or friend to talk things through, allows you to create a bit of space for yourself to enable you to return to your baby in a calmer way and so help them with what they need. The idea is to be with your baby through their distress, not just physically present, but emotionally available. If you can’t think clearly and struggling with what you feel, it makes it very difficult for you to calm your upset baby.


If you find that it feels hard to soothe your baby, that your baby seems to be so often upset, or maybe very quiet, as if they are withdrawn, or perhaps you find yourself often feeling irritated or frustrated with your little one, therapy can help to think about what is happening between you and how you and baby effect one another. This can support the development of a healthy and enjoyable relationship between you.

Related Posts
How does my newborn baby communicate?

It takes time to get to know one another and to figure out your baby’s cues. Each baby will communicate Read more

How do I build a good relationship with my baby?

In this article, we will think about how you can help your baby to feel happy, safe and understood by Read more

Baby’s eye gaze: what does it mean?

Babies look at you as they are most of all drawn to the human face. This is your baby’s way Read more

What is a secure attachment and why is it so important for your baby’s future?

A secure attachment is possibly the single greatest determinant of your child’s future wellbeing. This is because research has shown Read more