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Infant - Week #48

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Week 48: Setting Limits

By Meg Leonard, edHelperBaby

           As your 48-week-old continues to explore her surroundings, you find yourself having to set limits and rules much earlier than you probably anticipated. She doesn't yet understand danger or consequences very well, so she needs help to learn how to stay safe, even in her own home. Start setting limits early so that you don't have to go back and reteach your baby after she has acquired some bad habits.


           The word "discipline" usually has a negative connotation because it is typically associated with punishment. However, this word comes from the Latin words for teaching, learning, and pupil. If you think of "discipline" as teaching your baby appropriate behaviors and consequences, then it makes sense to start using discipline at a young age.

       Disciplining a 48-week-old baby is mostly about teaching limits and keeping him safe. Some limits are easier to teach naturally. For example, when your baby purposely throws a teething cookie to the ground and does not get another treat, he learns not to throw his cookie on the ground. If your baby tries to pull himself up to standing by using a tall laundry hamper and they both topple over, he will learn that this is not a safe thing to pull on.

       There are other instances in which you will need to say "no" and mean it. Use a firm tone but do not yell. Don't explain why something is off limits. With your baby's limited vocabulary, he will not understand the explanation. Arrange your baby's environment to be baby friendly so that "no" isn't a word that becomes overused. There will be some items that can't be moved, such as electrical outlets and stairs. Teach your baby the word "no" for these occasions. You also want your baby to learn the word "no" for the times when you are outside of the safety of your own home. Doctor's waiting rooms, other people's homes, and public places aren't always baby-proof. If he understands the word "no," you can keep him safe in a variety of settings.


           Practice consistency when you set guidelines or rules for your baby. Notice what happens when you are consistent. Does your baby's behavior change to show that he understands the rules? What happens if you are not consistent? How long does it take your baby to learn a new rule? After he has learned the rule, how often does he test it?


Fun With Your Senses
    Book: David Smells! by David Shannon
       Fans of David Shannon's picture books will love this board book! The author of No, David! has brought his lovable character to board books. In David Smells!, young David explores his five senses, causing trouble along the way. It is an adorable book, with the same child-like illustrations as Shannon's other popular books. This book shows how David explores his limits and learns about his senses. It is also one of three board books by David Shannon, so your baby can have several experiences with this wonderful little character!


Real Life with Baby
           Our first issues with discipline came when Mary discovered the electrical cords for our phone and answering machine. It seemed as though she needed to crawl over to those cords every day and touch them, just to see what our response would be. After a few days of saying, "no cords," she eventually began to ignore them. I do find her over by them on occasion, almost as if to test me and see if I am still serious.

       Our bigger test was when Mary discovered the buttons on the front of our television set. She uses drawer pulls on the front of our entertainment center to pull herself up to standing, and conveniently for her, there are buttons right at her eye level. When she discovered that she could push those buttons and make things happen on the screen, she was so excited. At first, we thought it was cute. But, after dealing with the channel changing in the middle of the weather forecast or having the volume go loudly out of control, we decided we had to do something about it.

       My husband and I agreed to say "no buttons" and remove her from the television whenever she decided to push them. The first day, we took turns carrying her away from the television, so she knew that we were united on this. We first said "no buttons" and if she still pushed them, then we carried her away. This lasted for at least 15 minutes before she got bored and went on to something else. The next day, it was a little shorter, but she tested my husband and me separately to see if we still meant business when it came to those tempting buttons. Gradually, she lost interest when she saw that we were both serious.

       Interestingly, as the week progressed, she would touch the buttons and then look at me with a smile on her face. She waited for me to carry her away! I realized that Mary was catching on to this "game" and was now pushing the buttons on purpose to get my attention. If I was in the kitchen fixing her breakfast, I would hear the volume on the television get louder because she knew that I would come out to correct this. So, I tried using the remote control to turn the volume down or change the channel back to the original channel, while saying nothing to her about the buttons. This seemed to work the best. I simply corrected what she did without a reaction. I also tried luring her away from the television with other toys and activities. I also found that if I lay on the floor while she plays, then she has no interest in the buttons on the television.

       Mary really liked David Smells!. She would point to David on each page when I asked "Where's the baby?" I thought that the illustrations would not be as enticing to her as the photos she usually likes, but she smiled at them and picked this book out of a pile of books as a bedtime story. She also enjoyed Oops!, which is another of the books in this series.


A United Front
           It is very important to discuss your discipline philosophy with your partner and anyone else who cares for your baby. You need to be in agreement about how and when you will discipline your baby. Otherwise, she will quickly figure out that "no" doesn't always mean "no" because it all depends on who says it.

       Unfortunately, you won't always be able to discuss every situation with your partner before it happens. If you disagree with the way your partner or another caregiver handles a situation, support their decision in front of your baby. Later, out of your baby's hearing, discuss your feelings about the situation and come to an agreement about how future problems should be handled. For the good of all involved parties, your baby needs to know that when it comes to discipline, all the adults in her life are in agreement.


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