Not sure how to punish my baby...

Jade - posted on 08/21/2009 ( 27 moms have responded )

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I have a 10 month old daughter and since she has started crawling, she has gotten into everything. I have tried to babyproof everything i can, but there are things that she still gets into. What she has started to do is crawl towards something she knows she's not allowed, turn around and look at me while i'm telling her no, and then go ahead and do it anyways. I will get up and take her away from the area, and then she crawls right back to it. I'm not sure how to teach her that she's not allowed to do that? I've been told that slapping her hand away will work, but I really don't want to be violent with her..Any suggestions?

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Minnie - posted on 08/21/2009

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Punish? For doing something that is within her instincts? She's exploration-driven and can't help her impulses or her desire to discover everything she can about her surroundings.

Aside from baby-proofing all you can, you'll just have to re-direct her attention to something she CAN play with, provide lots of interesting things that she can use, like pots and spoons, colorful toys that make noise, blocks, boxes, etc.

At her age she doesn't understand reasoning, she's not going to connect punishment and her natural (and GOOD) desire to explore. You just continue to be repetetive, redirect, distract her, and eventually she will understand her boundaries.

Children who are punished (spanked, slapped, swatted) and children who are not both outgrow the impulsive exploratory stage. There's no need to punish at all. It's just a stage.

Zoha - posted on 08/23/2009

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I am a child psychologist and what I have learned from slapping your kids, unfortunately is that they learn to slap:( whatever it is she is going after, just remove it and put it away. If it can't be moved then baby proof it or put something in front of it so she can't get to it. You can redirect, but if that doesn't work, I like the idea of saying no with a meaner look and voice and removing her and putting her someplace with no toys or access ( like the high chair for just a minute) so she gets the picture that No means no and if you don't listen then you get no access. They don't have the cognitive ability for right and wrong but they do understand ( with a lot of practice and consistency on your part) that no means no access to fun if she doesn't listen. In general though, I am in favor of letting them have fun and explore and having the adult go through he discomfort of finding another place to put the stuff the baby shouldn't get to.

Brenda - posted on 08/22/2009

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Lisa is sooo right. Your baby is not equipped with the cognitive ability to understand punishment or negative reinforcement yet. Remove the object and distract. All a baby at that age knows when slapped, for any purpose, is that the caregiver is hurting them, and they will associate the pain with you, not the action she was spatted for.

Ashlee - posted on 08/24/2009

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I sgree that slapping is not a good way to teach your child not to do something. I also have a 10 month old little boy and for the most part he knows when mommy says "NO" it means stop. There are his cheeky times where he is crawling towards something (like plants at grandma's) and he will stop look at an adult and say nnnnno and go as fast as he can to it. We just tell him no pick him up put him where he can be. Like others have said when you say no you have to mean it, you can not be sweet about it it has to be stern. There are times when I say no that you would think that i did physically punish him he will look at me and his lip starts to shake sometimes he even cries then he comes over for a cuddle. He doesn't get NO 100% but he is starting to, in time like everything else they will get it. Just keep at it.
Good Luck!!

Minnie - posted on 08/24/2009

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Quoting Caira:

Slapping her hand is not violent. It really does work. You smack it hard enough that it just smarts a little and tell her No, No calmly. Do it as many times as she insists on doing whatever it is that she wants to do. It is difficult, but its better than her getting hurt because she will not obey.



Ummm...please tell me how 'slapping' and 'smacking' are not violent?  They're not butterfly kisses last I checked. 

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Lexie - posted on 08/26/2009

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also im not "punishing" her or anything like that. just showing her that no is no. and she never never get hurt when i do that AT ALL, she just feel the spanking on my own hands and she knows not to do it again. :) so for you people who think im abusing my child im not. im hitting my OWN hands while my hands is on her hands.

Lexie - posted on 08/26/2009

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hold her hands with your hands and slap YOUR hands. so she wont be hurt but she'll feel the movement and not do it again. that waht i did with my daugther and she dont get into things that i tell her not to.

Jackie - posted on 08/25/2009

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I have the same problem with my 10month old. She tries to get into everything even stuff i know she knows she's not suppose to touch. I think they are just testing us. I read in the what to expect the first year is that babies don't really start listening from somewhere between 12-18 months. They know what it means but don't listen to no until there are older. I say just keep what you are doing. She will eventually learn. I usually say no, or don't touch that, that's not a toy for Emma so its not always no and then put her in front of her toys. Somtimes she doesn't go right back to what she was touching and sometimes she does.

Darcy - posted on 08/25/2009

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When I take my little one for her check-ups the doctor gives me a paper with little notes on what to expect and how to do different things and I went for her 9month check-up yesterday and on the paper it said that at 9months your LO is learning what No means. It went on to say that when your little one is play with something they shouldn't be say NO and take it away, or if they go where you don't want them to go say no and move them and if they keeping doing it put the LO in a pack an Play for 1min with no toys or attention from you.

Jessoliver87 - posted on 08/24/2009

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Put her in a playpen if shes going to get into everything. If she has her toys and things in there with her, then shes not going to get into things she shouldn't. It doesnt't have to be all day she spends in there, just now and again.

Beth - posted on 08/24/2009

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First of all, there is a difference between "punishing" and disciplining or teaching. She's a baby and doesn't know what she's doing is "wrong" it's just very interesting. You are right to baby-proof everything but what about providing things as alternatives? It's one thing to say NO all the time but what CAN she do? Give her a box with old plastic containers in it or other items that are safe which she might ordinarily seek out. If you provide things for her to crawl around and "find" she might leave what you need left alone, alone. The smacking my not be necessary unless say she's going for power points or something dangerous which will hurt more than a slap on the fingers. The pain may be a reminder not to touch things like that. Maybe there is one small cupboard she could be allowed to explore. My sister in law did that with the plastic cupboard and while it was messy it was harmless and kept the girls entertained. Good luck.

Jessica - posted on 08/24/2009

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I took everything out my main living areas that i did not want my son to get into and made sure he has toys to play with and just let him explore.i have learned from taking care of babies that taking them away or yelling no at them just sparks thier intrest even more to a object.my living room is bare but life is easier.

Laura - posted on 08/24/2009

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I would prefer my kids got a little tap on the hand or a spanking instead of having them get seriously hurt by something they were messing with fell on them. Because in the end a tap on the hand or a spanking hurt a heck of a lot less than a broken bone, or getting stitches. There is a big difference abuse and discipline, and there is a big difference between respect and fear. If they fear you than somethings wrong, but if they fear the punishment or consequences than you've done your job. My kids are by no means scared of us. You should never just come out and smack your child. That's just wrong. I give my kids 2 warnings before they get any sort of punishment or consequence for their actions. If you just straight up smack your kids then they will be afraid of you instead of the punishment or consequence. But from my experience just a time out or a redirection didn't always work. I was very consistent and still am, but they were coming to the conclusion the only that was going to happen was they were just going to get put some place else for a couple minutes. My kids knew that I meant no when they were 10 months old. I've always said it with a stern voice. My kids are just fine. They don't hit, they don't yell, but that doesn't mean they're perfect. I've discovered that the older they get and the more privileges they get, the more they act up. The only reason they do that as they get older is because they're trying to figure out what else they can get away with even if they no better than to do certain things.

Rebekah - posted on 08/24/2009

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When a child hears the word "no" too many times it can become meaningless, so I'd avoid telling her "no" unless it's something important. When my son was that age I kept the house pretty baby proof and only had a few things that were "no's." I slapped his hand when he pulled up on the trash can and started pulling trash out ONE time, and after that he'd get near the trash can, cry, and then move away. Lesson learned.

Ashlee - posted on 08/24/2009

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also I would like to know how slapping spanking hitting or whatever other words you use for it are not violent. That's like says hugs and kisses are not loving.

[deleted account]

Slapping her hand is not violent. It really does work. You smack it hard enough that it just smarts a little and tell her No, No calmly. Do it as many times as she insists on doing whatever it is that she wants to do. It is difficult, but its better than her getting hurt because she will not obey.

Stephanie - posted on 08/24/2009

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I agree with the distraction technique.Try putting something she likes in front of the one she cant have.She is obviously smart and has learned how to get mommys attention so you cant give her what she wants during undesirable activities.Also removing her from the situation is good.Say no loud and firm once maintaining eye contact with an angry expression on your face .[works with instinctual reaction]Then no eye contact or talking while in time out...at her age about one or two minutes is fine..Using a naughty mat and an egg timer is a good option if used consistently she will learn that she can get off the mat when the timer goes off.[also good when she is older]The mat and timer are portable so they can be used just about anywhere.Consistentency is key.Do it every time and any where.She will learn that no means no attention ,no fun and no eye contact will be the expected consequence[not punishment] for bad behavior.Trust me more than anything else in this world your baby wants your attention and touch.If you take it away for a minute you will see results without having to resort to negative touches.Good luck Jade.

Laura - posted on 08/23/2009

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Quoting zoha:

I am a child psychologist and what I have learned from slapping your kids, unfortunately is that they learn to slap:( whatever it is she is going after, just remove it and put it away. If it can't be moved then baby proof it or put something in front of it so she can't get to it. You can redirect, but if that doesn't work, I like the idea of saying no with a meaner look and voice and removing her and putting her someplace with no toys or access ( like the high chair for just a minute) so she gets the picture that No means no and if you don't listen then you get no access. They don't have the cognitive ability for right and wrong but they do understand ( with a lot of practice and consistency on your part) that no means no access to fun if she doesn't listen. In general though, I am in favor of letting them have fun and explore and having the adult go through he discomfort of finding another place to put the stuff the baby shouldn't get to.


I've actually had people come up to me at the store after watching me slap my childs hand after they touched something on the shelf after she was told no, and compliment me on how well I got her stop her tantrum. Most of those people flat out told me that they worked for cps or were a child psychologist. My kids know the meaning of the word no. You can't baby proof everything, and you can't always put something in front of it to prevent them. That just makes it more intriguing to them. From my experience you don't want to put them in a high chair for a minute with nothing because than they will eventually believe that there's where they go when they're naughty and not for some place to sit and eat. I have a lot of things in my kids reach. Some of it's breakable some of it isn't, but my kids won't touch it. My son hit someone once, and that was because the kid kept taking a toy away from him, and the kid did it even after getting in trouble for it. We did tell our son that it wasn't okay, and he's never done it again. And sometimes kids just hit. My 2 year old half brother hits my daughter. My mom and my step dad have never spanked or slapped his hand, and he's never seen me spank my kids. Every child is different just like every adult is different. You have to base things on your child. You know you're child better than anyone else.

Ez - posted on 08/23/2009

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I absolutely agree that there is no reason to 'punish' a baby that age, so ignore whoever is telling you to slap her. It may seem like she's being defiant but she doesn't understand that concept yet - she's just exploring and testing the world around her. Just continue redirecting and removing her from the situation you find inappropriate.

[deleted account]

How ever told you that should get a slap themselves and see how they like it. Your daughter is way to young to understand the difference between right and wrong and what she's allowed and not allowed to do. The more you keep taking her away from that something, the more intrigued she is about it and she'll just keep going back. Like all new crawlers, she is exploring her new freedom in the surroundings of her own home, being able to move around by herself. She will eventually find something else and then move on from that, At least wait until she is over at least 1 or 1 1/2 to start teacher her her rights from wrongs.

Laura - posted on 08/23/2009

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The only thing that worked for my kids was slapping their hand, giving them a spanking, or a time out. Re-direction no matter what I used or how I did it, it never worked. My kids are really bull headed and it runs in the family to be a daredevil. I based the punishment on what they did. My kids were 6 months when I started saying the word no. They were crawling by that time, so it was very necessary to start. My son never went near outlets, but my daughter did. My daughter was 10 months when she got her first slap on the hand for touching an outlet. She's never done it again. My son was 9 months old when he climbed to the top of our entertainment center and jumped off. He got a spanking for that. He didn't climb on anything again after that.

There were also a few times when I let them get hurt. Depending on what it was. If it was something that could seriously hurt them then I didn't. But once they hurt themselves and started to whine I told them flat out that I didn't want to hear whining they were told no and that's all there was to it. Do what works for you child. My kids are very bull headed, so doing the slap on the hand, the spanking and/or the timeout worked wonders.

User - posted on 08/23/2009

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DISTRACTION!!! as many others have suggested!! But in saying that they do need to learn the word 'no'...so what I did was to baby proof the house but left one thing that was a 'no don't touch thing' and every time they reached out I would gently put their hand down and say 'no'..in a firm and loving way.....they eventually got the idea that I wasn't going to let them touch it and got used to the word 'no' and carried on and played with their toys (which were much more fun).

Kristen - posted on 08/22/2009

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Positive reinforcement goes a long way. Tell the baby what she can do instead of what she can't do. If you think about it even adults would prefer this. At this age the training is more for yourself as opposed to your child because they won’t understand just yet. Also limiting the use of the word no to three scenarios helps you in the long run . . . the three times you should use the word no are when whatever the child is doing is going to cause harm to them self, someone else, or something. If you restrict the use of this word to these events then the child will know that NO means business and they will learn that whatever they are doing is dangerous. Too many people use the word no for TOO many things; children become numb to the word and then don't understand the reasoning behind it.



Corporal punishment (hitting) is not acceptable at all for children under five. I personally do not agree with it period however children have to be able to distinguish wrong from right and some parents believe this is the only way. I know you said that you do not use this technique however I'd like to share a story. I took my infant to a baby shower where there was a 15 month old and a 6 year old. The 6 year old had played with the 15 month old most of the shower. The 6 year old came to play with my daughter who was in her car seat on the floor. The 15 month old came over and tried to play with the 6 year old again however the 6 year old did not want to play. The 15 month old started hitting the 6 year old and then started hitting my daughter. I told him NO! in a very stern voice and told him to keep his hands to himself. I knew right away that somewhere this little boy had learned that when you get mad you hit, i already had drawn my conclusions that corporal punishment was used in his house when his mother told me later that she has to "pop pop pop him" because he just doesn't listen and she gets so aggravated with him. hmmmm . . . i wonder why he started hitting my infant when he didn't get his way? Hitting is a learned trait just as everything else is. I’m sorry, that was me completely rambling I just like to take every opportunity I can to tell people how wrong corporal punishment is.



Redirection is the main way for you to fix your situation now. Sadly that trick only works for the first year or so . . . use it while you can. Good luck!

Candice - posted on 08/22/2009

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by the way, i agree with the other ladies. if it's not a safety issue, just something you don' twant her to play with, i tend to use the "replacement" technique. i trade one thing for whatever she has. if it's something that's always around (plugs, cat food, the oven) or a bad behaviour (hitting) that's when the evil eye and the removal stuff comes in handy.

Candice - posted on 08/22/2009

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there are a couple of things to make sure you're doing that work for me. one is to never use the word no with a smile or a laugh or a pansy little voice. then she will know that when you say it you mean it. say it with a low stern voice and repeat it if necessary. move her away from the object as many times as you have to for her to get the point, and say no again when you move her. and keep eye contact when you say no...don't be the first to look away (master the "evil eye").



my mom has a saying that if you don't get your child to know who's boss by the time they're 2, you never will. this is the time to start...repetition and consistency at this stage are your only weapons.



so far it's worked for me. my daughter won't go near the cat food or cat litter (those were the first two things i said no to) and she's easy to manage with other "untouchables"...but when she tests me..it's the same routine.

Sarah - posted on 08/21/2009

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Try distracting her with another toy or object she can play with. Another thing I do if that does not work is my form of a time-out for that age. They get put either on my lap with no toys or in their high chair or exersaucer.

Meredith - posted on 08/21/2009

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It sounds like you are on the right track by moving her away - I would continue with the redirection by taking it a step further and engaging her with another item - similar in color, content, or material but that is safe and appropriate for her to play with

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