When my kids were babies, I was always told that they manipulated me, along with the accusation that I was a bad mother for giving in to them. I didn’t believe it then and I don’t believe it now.
You know those months when baby decides, like my youngest grandson has recently done, that “no one but Mommy can hold me”? That’s not a spoiled baby forcing mom to bend to his will. That’s a baby with a real fear. He doesn’t understand his fear, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real. A baby at this stage is just becoming mobile enough to reach parts of the world he’s never handled before. Instinct drives him to explore and he wants to be independent, but of course, he can’t be. He’s also reached a mental stage where he’s knows that other people are separate from him and also separate from Mom and Dad. He understands that Mom and Dad can and do disappear sometimes, but he’s not savvy enough to understand why, nor to understand that they will return. He doesn’t understand the passage of time until they do return. He lives in the “now” and he is terrified when Mom goes away. When someone else holds him, this signals that Mom is leaving and he reacts in the only way he can – crying, struggling against the new person, and reaching for Mom.
It’s a stage. Baby will grow and soon figure these out. It’s NOT manipulation.