This very exciting time in your baby's development often includes learning to crawl, pulling up to stand, playing with a variety of toys, and even starting to walk or cruise around furniture. This new found freedom also means your baby is probably exploring items and places you would rather she didn't. How you respond to this behavior and what you do to start teaching your baby rules today will begin to establish your patterns for "discipline" in the future.


Talk about how you plan to prevent and manage problematic behaviors. Consider your beliefs and experiences related to discipline practices and determine initial guidelines for parenting your baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns against spanking your baby, or using any other corporal punishment, because of the risk of getting angry or hurting your baby. Right now, your baby cannot recognize the connection between behavior and punishment, making it unlikely she would change her future behavior. Your baby does need loving and caring adults that respond positively and consistently to help her establish a sense of security and attachment. 

Brain Science for Your Baby

Many studies show that the use of corporal punishment, including spanking, is not an effective strategy to prevent future misbehaviors and that it is linked to childhood aggression toward peers and parents and later in intimate relationships (MacIntyre & Cantrell, 1995; Simons & Johnson, 1994; Simons & Lin, 1998; Straus & Kantor; Straus & Yodanis; Swinford et al., 2000; Ulman & Straus, 2003; Weiss et al., 1992). Mothers who are young, who report more parental stress, or report their child has a more difficult temperament, are more likely to spank their child. On the upside, participating in parenting classes and gaining knowledge about child development reduced spanking by 30-35%.


Making a commitment against the use of spanking or other forms of harsh parenting will help you stick to your plan and result in more positive parent-child interactions. A study by Coleman & Schmidt (1995) found that parents who held positive attitudes about strategies such as spanking when their children were 12 months old significantly predicted the use of spanking for their toddlers and children in the future. Establishing your plan now for using positive parenting strategies will help stay on this course in the future. 

A Baby Buffer Prescription for Your Baby

Establish positive parenting practices today to avoid the "spanking" trap for the future.


Get in the habit of telling your baby what TO DO rather than what not to do. Pick a word or short phrase to use when you want to redirect her behavior. For example: "Hands off" when she is getting into things you want her to stay away from.


Redirect your baby by showing her what she IS able to do and things she can touch or play with. Label her toys with her name or as "baby's toys" when talking to her to help her understand what is ok to touch.


Give baby lots of attention and specific praise when she is playing with her toys, moving to safe places, and engaging in other positive behaviors. Examples: "Good job playing with baby's toys" or "good hands off" when she listens to your prompt.


Give less attention to baby for behaviors you do not want to see (getting into things, touching your belongings, etc). Redirect with a neutral face and tone of voice and a short phrase. This helps baby understand it's not "funny" and teaches her that positive behaviors get her lots of attention and praise from you....NOT the negative behaviors.


Decide not to use spanking or other corporal punishment with your baby, toddler, or older children. Make sure everyone that cares for your baby understands and follows these guidelines. Establish positive patterns today. Avoid behaviors like swatting your baby's hand or bottom.

A Baby Buffer Prescription for You        


Have a plan to calm yourself down. Be aware of what makes you angry and how you can stay calm and safe with your baby. You are more likely to be harsh or aggressive with your child when you are upset and angry.


Give yourself a "time out" if you are becoming upset. Put your baby in a safe place (crib) and walk to a different room until you are calm and ready to make good decisions.


Know what calms you down. Counting to 10, taking deep breaths, or lying down for a few minutes are some ways to help decrease anger or frustration.


Ask for help when you need it. Ask someone else to help with baby while you calm down. Remind yourself your baby may not understand and that she is very young. Be patient!


Most importantly.....remember that you are dealing with the most important and precious person to you in the world. Remind yourself to treat her that way!



What Your Baby Can Do - Developmental Milestones 


Your baby is changing quickly during this period. Know what to look for to make sure your baby is growing and changing in a healthy way.  Click on the links below for information from the CDC on what your baby can do now.  

Baby Buffer Blog

Written by Barbara Unell 


I distinctly remember the feeling of softly holding my newborn babies in my arms for the first time.  A warm glow flooded my heart that seemed to flow throughout my whole body. That's the feeling of "bonding"-the term researches have given to the close emotional tie that develops between parents and their baby at birth and in the first few months of a baby's life. 

But the truth is, you may feel this instant bond the second you hold your baby, and you may not. You may feel confused, scared, and disconnected at first, and that's completely normal. Like many relationships, it may take time to bond with your little one.


I learned that an important secret to bonding with my babies was to relax and be "in the moment" when doing everyday activities together. Read More

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