Baby battles are a very real part of this mama’s everyday and I’m sure a part of yours too, if you live with a miniature mastermind. My baby challenges me throughout the day to try to get his way and many times he does. But, there are times when he doesn’t-because I said so! The word “no” has become a frequent flyer in our home recently. And when this mama says “no,” I mean it. Every since baby started crawling and received his active investigator badge, we began saying “no.” We actually say “no, thank you,” to model respect and use of pleasantries. Saying “no” to the sweet face of a little can be difficult. But that sweet face will walk all over you if they don’t know their boundaries. A baby’s whole mission in life is to test boundaries, that’s how they learn. Our job as caregivers is to provide the boundaries to keep them safe and disciplined. And this is tough when you’re dealing with a strong-willed tiny individual that ultimately controls you.
When you first start saying “no,” in our case around 8 months old, baby is not going to understand the word “no.” They form an understanding of “no” when they begin building the association between the word “no” and the act of being removed from an activity. For example, my son loves splashing in the dog’s water bowl and throwing the food. I totally get it but it can’t happen-because I said so! Taking the bowls up or placing them in a different area are not options. The only option is that baby not be allowed to play in them. After repeating “no, thank you, that’s Bella’s” five million times and removing baby while redirecting him with an activity or toys saying “this is yours, you may play with this,” he finally gets it. He still has temptations and I have to redirect him at least once a day but this is leaps and bounds from when I was doing it constantly. Baby learned but it required hard work, consistency, repetition and persistence to create his understanding of unacceptable.
Another point of contention are my sunglasses. I just got a new pair and “no baby, you may not have them, they are mommy’s!” This is a constant battle and I perform the same rhetoric as mentioned above but redirect baby to my teething necklaces. Give this a try! I love my Mama and Little necklaces, they don’t scream teething necklace. You teach the understanding of “no” by removing baby from an unwanted situation, providing simple explanation and redirecting them to a wanted replacement activity. The key is being consistent and not giving in, “no” means “no” and you have to follow through. The key to carry over with “no” is providing verbal praise such as “good listening” or “good choice” when baby stops when told “no” and doesn’t continue the unwanted behavior. The goal is for baby to begin to develop the understanding of desirable and undesirable behaviors, right from wrong.
A great place to set boundaries and redirect baby is on the changing table. For whatever reason, babies like to take charge on the changing table and make things difficult. They insist on squirming, rolling over, grabbing and throwing all things off. Don’t let this happen, baby is trying to gain control! Rolling over on the changing table is not an option-because I said so! It’s important to make this known to baby but it requires hard work and some diversion to reduce saying “no” constantly. I have to work extra hard at our changing table because we have a large mirror above it that is very desirable to my son. Touching it is not an option. Taking it down is not either, so baby must learn. After consistently tapping his arm and saying, “no thank you, it can fall and hurt us” and redirecting him with mommy being silly or something to hold, he only occasionally goes for the mirror now. Score Team Mommy! If the changing table presents a baby battle for you, give these ideas a try.
Ideas to make changing baby’s diaper go a little smoother:
- When baby is a newbie, give them a soft toy, stuffed animal or blanky (Angel Dear blankies are the best) to hold while changing to help them feel more secure
- Sing songs
- Tickle baby
- Make silly faces and noises, pretend sneeze
- Play peek-a-boo
- Talk baby through the steps of diaper changing
- Keep a handful of toys at hand to let baby hold, chew and play with while your changing their diaper
- Place a mobile over the changing table to give baby something to look up at
- Give baby laminated pictures to look at
- Have all supplies within hands reach
- Keep your changing station stocked
- In the newbie and winter months, use a space heater to make it a more pleasurable experience, we use this Vornadobaby Sunny Nursery Heater
- Provide light pressure to baby’s chest and shoulders, not allowing them to roll, rolling is not an option-stand your ground parents! Babies learn very quickly if they can win this battle or not.
- Limit time on the changing table, it’s never a good idea to rush with a baby but don’t set up camp, keep the time here short and sweet
I’m not a big fan of constantly saying “no,” it just feels so negative. So, I set up my son’s environment to limit him doing things I disapprove of. The less you have to say “no” the better, because the more you say it, the less effective it is. If they hear “no” too often it decreases the value or baby can become reluctant to try new things for fear of disapproval. Try saving “no,” preferably “no, thank you,” for serious rules and issues. You want to be firm but not break their spirit. Use “no” judiciously, look for ways to redirect baby to reduce saying it. Babies can’t help but be mischievous but they are not malicious, they don’t know any better. We have to be prepared to teach them, redirect them or out smart them! When appropriate, I challenge you to say “no, thank you” and “good listening” to a baby today.
Let’s talk baby battles, what are some of yours? What do you do to redirect your little from getting in harm’s way? Please share. Thanks for taking your time to read!
Tip: When you do say “no” make sure to change your tone of voice and facial expression to suggest dislike, baby should be looking at you when you do this.
Peace & Love,
Respect, kindness and love begin with babies…we must show them the way