Discipline, undeniably one of the most controversial subjects regarding parenting, is also among the most most misunderstood, difficult, and anxiety provoking. Babies cannot really be disciplined until they understand the language.

And it’s important to remember that discipline is not a synonym for punishment. Discipline is less about being a tough cop and more of being a kind teacher. However, as parents you can begin teaching them as they start to crawl.


Discipline mean “to teach.” Punish means to apply a penalty using pain or loss as a means to control behavior and prevent a person from doing an undesired behavior.  However, the majority of discipline should be about teaching and guiding your child that includes less of punishment and a very small part of your discipline plan.

Developmentally, discipline should begin when your child is able to understand that there is a connection between his behavior and the effects it causes, in this case, the reactions of others.

Ways to make you toddler learn discipline:

Since understanding cause and effect is based on experience, the ability to differentiate the self from others, as well as language use, babies up to age one do not have a clear understanding of this. This begins to develop somewhere between the age of 1 and 2 years, but there is no clear, hard and fast way to define when this starts. In fact, it is believed that infants need discipline in the form of love. Infancy is a time for love and trust to develop a good way to discipline toddlers.

For example, how can a 6-month-old develop true trust if her hands are pushed away every time she reaches for something that interests her?

She won’t understand what you are trying to do; she will only learn that the people who love her are preventing her from trying new things. And time-out is no more effective as this age; she will only learn feel isolated and alone. She won’t understand that she is doing something forbidden. The only effective “discipline” at this point is vigilance on the part of caregivers, and removal of dangerous objects from the baby’s path or reach. “Baby-proofing” is the most essential discipline effort at this time.

  • Discipline is just a way of teaching right from wrong

It’s often noticed that infants and toddlers are extremely curious, and they should be! That’s how they learn. It’s so exciting to see them experiencing new things So encourage it, embrace it. But their curiosity can get them into all types of difficult situations. Baby1

Therefore if your 9 month old is crawling toward the stairs, he does understand that it is dangerous, so telling him to stop is not effective. Pick up your baby, simply saying “stairs are dangerous” (They do need to learn the language, after all), and remove your child from the area. And, please do not put up a barrier such as a gate so he cannot get to those stairs before you get to him.

  • Exploring the world of babies through Touching and Mouthing

If your 1 year old is reaching for a breakable vase on the coffee table.

How to react: Instead of raising your voice and saying “No, No, No! Try calling his/her name out loud. As hearing her/his name took by you will not only surprise her but also distract her to momentarily forget her task. Once, we have heard their attention, quickly redirect their interest before they get into trouble.

Reach out to your toddlers by associating them with words to help them sort out what they can do and what they can’t. Say “YES” for safe things they can touch and “No touch” for dangerous stuffs.

However, it’s not only vital to show your toddler what is off limits, in fact, show them what is theirs eventually at the same time. For example, if you are cutting something with a knife and your 14-month-old baby is fascinated looking at your task and tries doing it, say:” Not for James. This is Mom’s knife. Here’s James’s spoon”.

This technique is often regarded as redirecting the way of looking at things and making things learn, which is probably regarded as offering a play toy when you take away something from them that they can’t have.

For example: If your 1 year old is reaching for a breakable vase on the coffee table, in spite of grabbing and snatching away the vase from them, calmly say “Not for James” and as you take the vase from their hand, try to place a toy in their hand.

Does a Baby Need Discipline?

Discipline with a child is usually about testing boundaries; the boundaries of what they are allowed to do and what they are not allowed to do. If they do not like the answer, they protest and test again; and again. If the boundary they are trying to break gives way easily, it encourages them to go back and do it again.

If the boundary holds firm, with a consistent parent being calmly unbending, then the baby or infant will give up……eventually. Patience and consistency are vital to the discipline, otherwise the baby will become confused; they will not learn what is acceptable and what is not, if one day you give into their protests, and on another day you do not.

So, when should you begin to discipline? When you are certain that your child is doing sometime just to test your reaction or seems to understand the cause/effect relationship between two given things, that is the time. This is usually a child who knows what “Hot!” or “Glass” or “Fall down” means and is able to understand an alternative behavior.

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