How does a "timeout" work at the young age of 1?!

User - posted on 02/14/2012 ( 12 moms have responded )





My baby girl is very sweet - but she engages in some behavior which i feel i need to start teaching is wrong:

1. eating off ground

2. throwing food off high chair

3. fascination with sockets in the wall!! yikes!

4. pick me up tantrums

How does the time out method work? how long do you put them in their timeout spot? do you talk? what if they cry/scream?

I want to be consistent once i begin disciplining - any advice on how you handled your 1 year olds would be great!



Jenni - posted on 02/14/2012




Timeouts are recommended for around 2 years of age. They are appropriate for teaching the child how to calm themselves down and teaches them to not react negatively to strong emotions. Rather take quiet time to cool off.

They recommend starting at 2 because before that children/babies have very little impulse control. This means it's not likely that even if they do know you don't like a certain behaviour they do not understand why and they have little control to stop and think before they act.

So before 2 it's best to use redirection- showing/teaching them what they can do instead of the negative behaviour.

Eating off the floor- You can't eat that, it's all yucky but here have this grape instead.

Baby Proofing (for the sockets) and removal. Simply keep removing them from the danger and saying "No! Danger!"

The throwing food usually occurs when they're finished. So say "All done? All done!" to teach her the words to tell you she's finished. This is mostly just a phase they grow bored with anyways.

Nothing wrong with picking her up when she needs her mom. Don't confuse spoiling with love with spoiling by giving into demands. Something she probably wont begin to do until 18-24 months.

Sarah - posted on 02/14/2012




Not much experience with the eating off ground thing yet.

Throwing food off high chair meant she got the tray taken away for a little bit but not out of the chair at first, now that she knows better, it means she is done with the meal whether she likes it or not.

Pick me up tantrums mean I leave the room till she quits screaming. Generally she comes to me for a hug after because it was just a straight up she lost her temper thing & now that she's calm she wants a little reassurance which I am happy to give.

Big tantrums or big naughtiness lead to timeout in her crib with the bars up, in case she flings herself about, with a kitchen timer placed in her view and earshot with 5 minutes set on it. This might seem a little long for an 18 month old (like mine is) but usually she is pretty pissed or has been realllllly naughty to earn a timeout & she, I, or both need the time to calm down. During timeouts I go and do something relaxing & only when the timer dings do I go back into her room. I mention what she just had a timeout for and the correct behavior for that instance, we have a hug & it's done.

Seems to work pretty good almost all the time. Stay Strong Mama!

Kaitlin - posted on 02/14/2012




no, it's not really of use this young. The best you can do is really say NO no no, in an authoritative tone, take away (food being flung, toy throwing, etc) or remove from situation (sockets, hitting, etc) and distract with something else. When our kids started filing food, we say, "oh, so you're all done?' and then get them down. They of course, want to continue eating, so we try again and if the food gets flung, down you go! They get it after a day or two (don't worry, they still get some in their mouths) For tantrums, it's hard to define a tantrum in a baby this young. Try distracting with something else while you cook dinner or need to get something done- maybe have a special toy for that period (my boys LOVED to play in the tupperware drawer while I cooked in the kitchen- we only opened during that time). You can also try talking the whole time, "oh, mommy's going to put the laundry in the dryer now, see? I'm right here! Can you shake out this sock? No? Should I?" It's super annoying for you but really helps, especially when the kids are a little clingy.

At this point you are just teaching them no. You can't really discipline a young baby, nor should you. Try distracting whenever possible, and if hitting starts (it started around that age for my kids) say no and then show them how to do nice (stroke their cheek with your hand, have them do the same, say nice.... gentle... isn't that nice?)

I'm a very firm mom, I am all about kids acting their age (so not a lot of crazy expectations, but they DO need to listen to no by the age of 2), I don't spank because I believe it to be very inaffective, and I do discipline, i think just talking about things does not show that there are consequences to actions. Here's how we do it, since you asked about time outs.

As they get older (around 18 months to 2 years, depending on the child) you can inform them that if they do "x" again, they will go in time out. The next time they do it (usually right away) you place them in one spot/chair and tell them exactly why they are there, using the same tone of voice, and tell them they must stay there for (number of minutes per age- 2 for 2, etc) set the timer, and walk away. Don't talk to them. If they get up or start to do something naughty, place them back. In my experience a child under 2 1/2 can not understand the 'reset timer' when they get out of time out sinario, but after that, you can tell them that if they get out of time out you will reset the timer.

The best explanation I've ever read was from the supernanny/nanny911 book/series. It's very easy to follow, and it DOES work for children over 2 if the parent remains consistant. It does not work if the parent doesn't do exactly what is stated. Good luck!


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Jodi - posted on 02/16/2012




Time outs don't really work for a child that young (usually). My daughter didn't "get" time outs until a little after two years old. Keep in mind, most of those behaviors you mentioned are totally normal and mostly preventable.

1. Eating off of the ground, I have one twin (just turned 1) who is aweful about this! But if there's no food on the ground, she can't do it! It's a pain, but as soon as there's food on the floor, I pick it up. Out and about, I pick it up and toss it away. I also distract her or put her in her highchair for a snack to make sure she's not hungry.

2. Throwing food. Yeah, I hate this one! I have found with both of my twins that they only start throwing the food when their hunger is satisfied. So, I only put a few pieces of food on their tray at a time, when they start throwing food, they're done and I take them out and let them play.

3. almost 3 year old would LOVE to plug stuff in and my twins both think they're the coolest things ever. Outlet covers work wonders! They make special covers to use over outlets that have cords in them so that babies can't pull cords out. I got mine at Menards for a couple bucks. Distraction works really again, remove her from the outlet and give her a toy to play with, although they can have one track minds, keep doing it, punishments don't work well this young.

4. pick me up tantrums. I ignore tantrums, period. I have found with my oldest it works the best, no matter what it's about. Sometimes though, I can tell my babies just need to be held for whatever reason, usually they're tired or want something but can't communicate it. Keep in mind, they can't communicate their thoughts, needs, desires, fears, feelings etc etc, they can cry, laugh and point. I try to figure out WHY we're getting cranky/whiny BEFORE the tantrum actually starts. If I can't, or it seems to be for no reason, I let them have their fit and ignore them.

When you get to the time out method (which I would suggest waiting until at least 2 years old), put your child in a special spot (the same spot every time) for one minute per year of age ( 2yrs old=2 minutes, 5 yrs old=5 minutes etc). Set a timer (at least I do), if they get out of time out, time out starts over. If they're screaming and crying, they are trying to get your attention, ignore it, responding to it will only reward and encourage them to continue.

Best of luck! 1 year old is REALLY hard! They're starting to have REAL feelings, needs AND desires, but lack the vocabulary and means to let us know, it's frustrating, not just for us, for them too!

Karen - posted on 02/16/2012




Like Elizabeth said, its really just for distraction purposes at that age. If shes throwing stuff, you can put her in time out, but she most likely wont stay there. Its just something to take her mind off of what she was doing.

My daughter just turned 2 and still thinks time out is funny. I know one day, time out is really going to interrupt something fun to her, and that's when she will realize its not for fun.

Brooke - posted on 02/15/2012




A one year old won't understand the concept of a time out and I don't think you need to use time- outs with any of the above behaviors. I would try redirection, it works wonders!

Dusty - posted on 02/15/2012




At only a year old, she's not going to understand a "time out" past 2 minutes. If she cries or screams, then oh well, you still get her up after 2 minutes. Once she is older, you can start putting her in time out for an extended period of time, & not letting her get up when she cries/screams.

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I would not use Time Out for any of those behaviors, except for the 4th one. When she throws a tantrum, she is doing one of 2 things. You will need to look at the situation to determine which she is doing and act accordingly.

One, she is trying to get your attention and make you feel as bad as she does. So by calmly placing her in time out (find a safe, contained space) and going away, you take away her ability to do that. When she calms down, go back to her and give her lots of attention for being good. That will take away her need to resort to bad behavior to get your attention.

Two, she is working through some very frustrating emotions and needs your help. In those situations, you need to find a way to teacher her to work through and express those emotions in a more positive way. Sometimes sending her to her room or another safe, comfortable place to let her work it out is good. She should be able to come out whenever she is ready though, as long as she is ready to be nice. Sometimes you can give her paper to tear up, or to draw her feelings on (it'll be hard edged scribble), but be sure she can't scribble on the walls.

Is she eating food off the floor? Why is it on the floor? Just keep food off the floor--run a quick vacuum after she eats so any dropped pieces are picked up. She will learn not to eat off the floor once she is old enough to know about germs.

If she throws food off the highchair, take the food away, clean up the mess (while she is still in the chair) and that is the end of the meal until the next meal. She will get the point quickly. She is getting attention AND food by tossing the food--she knows you will talk to her and get her more food. But by ending the meal, you take away both the things she wants, so she will have no reason to throw it.

Until she is old enough to know about electricity, sockets should be covered. Not those silly push-in covers, kids can get those off no problem. Get the switch plate covers that require the use of an actual plug as a key to open. Use the solid covers for outlets that you do not use. She'll need to be a little older before she understands the danger of sockets. If you don't like the covers, you can just distract her every time she goes near them, the only problem with that is that she can turn it into a ploy to get your attention if you are not careful. She'll know "mommy comes and brings a toy to me everytime I go near this thing." So you want to avoid that.

Carol - posted on 02/14/2012




My daughter is 21 months. So shes still tech. 1 yr old. She will eat things off the ground, I don't mind this so much just for the fact she can go to a day care and eat somethign off the ground there, no one wears shoes inside my house so i don't have to worry about stuff being tracked in, a day care I do. Also, a little dirt never hurt anyone and she has eatten that and put an earthworm in her mouth, spit it out. She does the tantrums, i ignore her or tell her to move because i will step on her. Ignoring works well, shes stopped throwing as many as she used to. Also there are wall socket covers, I suggest getting some. My kids, both like to plug cords or night lights into the sockets we use, but leave a majority alone. My daughter hasn't eatten in a high chair since she was 18 months, she did throw food on the floor, but there really is nothing you can do about that. My daughter out grew the food tossing, and ony did that when she was finished, maybe thats why your baby is telling you. I rarely put my daughter in time out, unless shes done something really bad, this is normally just picking our pet ferret up by the skin on his back, unstead of her usual way. However my son, who turns 3 next month gets time out for non retalitory hitting biting, not sharing throwing fits over pointless things, she likes to join him, then we have to pull her out of the corner because shes not the one in trouble.

Elizabeth - posted on 02/14/2012




distraction at this point is the best method..they have such short attention spans that it works well

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When my daughter was 1, I let her decide how long the time out was going to be. Often times they ended up being between 30 seconds and a minute. I would put her down and tell her she was in a timeout.

For really big things like the wall sockets, I would put her down and if she got up right away, sit her back down.

No matter the reason, afterwards I would put her on my lap and tell her why she shouldn't do what she did.

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