As your baby continues to become more and more mobile, you will tend to find yourself saying “no-no” more often to warn him/her away from things that shouldn’t be touched. Your baby may or may not understand what the word “no” means at this time. Your baby also might not understand why he is being told no, nor understand that he is putting himself in danger, but your baby will understand a negative tone to your voice.

Try to keep your baby as safe as possible by setting the limits with love so your baby’s emotions towards you and himself stay as positive as possible:

  • If your baby crawls towards something that is dangerous, quickly grab your baby, point to the object and say “no-no,” and find the nearest distraction, such as a toy or cool object. Eventually, your baby will understand that he isn’t supposed to go near whatever you are grabbing him away from.
  • When you do tell your baby “no”, try your best to say it as calmly as possible and make sure everyone in your home is consistent with what are “no-nos.”
  • Especially if your baby is in immediate danger, sometimes it’s hard not to say “no” in a calm tone. Your baby may cry a lot when this does happen. If this does happen, make sure to give him lots of hugs and kisses and talk to him in a calm voice.
  • Timeouts: At this age, you can start working on a bit of behavioral modification. Timeouts can be a great way of doing this.  When your child starts doing something they aren’t supposed to, calmly pick them up, remove him/her from the situation, and set him/her in a safe spot.  Calmly say “timeout, we don’t hit (or whatever your child was doing wrong)” then turn your back or walk away until your child calms down.  Once calm, quickly walk back to your child, give him/her a big hug, and remind him/her why they got a timeout.
  • Remember to be consistent and have everyone that cares for baby be consistent with the rules. As a parent, it is your job to teach your child right and wrong, and how to treat others.  Always teach your children these lessons with kindness and never physically or emotionally punish a child.

Source: Caring for Your Baby and Young Child, 6th Edition: Birth to Age 5 (American Academy of Pediatrics) /