Q) Now that my baby is crawling around and getting into everything, how should I discipline her?
certified family life educator
Your job right now is to keep your baby safe, secure, and stimulated. A crawling baby may be old enough to make mischief, but she's not old enough to learn the difference between right and wrong. Real discipline — the kind that teaches lessons and changes behaviors — will have to wait.
Even though your baby can't grasp discipline, this is a great time to start practicing techniques
that will work in the months and years to come. When she pulls on a lamp cord or sucks on a stereo knob, firmly tell her "no" and quickly redirect her to a safer activity. With her short attention span, she'll quickly forget about causing trouble.
No matter what your baby does, spanking, swatting, and yelling are never appropriate responses. Harsh discipline will only scare her and can even cause an injury. Shaking a baby
can cause life-long brain damage or death. If you feel angry, put your baby down in a safe place, like her crib or play yard, and give yourself a short break to calm down.
You can head off many problems by giving your baby a safe place to explore. Babyproofing
your home — covering up outlets, putting dangerous things out of reach, blocking "off-limit" places with baby gates, and so on — is the best way to ensure good behavior. Instead of looking for discipline opportunities at this point, try to enjoy and appreciate your baby's fascination with her world.
Tomorrow: great tips on creating boundaries.