When our daughter seemed to reach the ‘terrible twos’ around a year old, we were stunned. I hadn’t really thought far enough ahead to figure out how to start disciplining. I would just say no, and she would laugh at me. While this was cute right away, as she got bigger and realized she could scratch, pull hair, bite, and all the lovely behaviors that babies learn, we realized we needed to step up as parents and figure out how to tackle the bad behavior. This post includes some tips on how to discipline baby starting at an early age.

Learn to say the word ‘No’

While children can overgeneralize if you say it too often, they do need to learn that no means no. When your child bites you or starts pulling your hair, it’s a good time to say ‘no’. If the behavior persists, it’s a good time to move on to another method, but it’s also good to get the word ‘no’ into the vocabulary. It’s also important to note that if you can have a room or two in the home that is fully baby-proofed, you can avoid saying ‘no’ too often. Young children do need to get into stuff and learn independence through experimenting. This experimenting can come along with spilled milk, a broken picture frame, dog food being eaten, or other unwanted or even unsafe things.

Take baby to storytime or the local library

Ignoring bad behavior can be a savior for parent

Is your child getting a rise out of you every time that they do something bad, but then you’re glued to the phone or television when they’re behaving? 

There is power in distraction

When your child is very young (under the age of 3), distraction is a very helpful tool. Children have a very short attention span, which means they can easily be distracted from the bad behavior to something else. If your child is throwing a tantrum over not getting an item in the kitchen. take them to their toy-box and get grab one of their favorite toys or books and be attentive. This can help divert attention so they forget about the bad behavior. Another great way to distract them is to go outside, for example, to walk down the block or let the dog out.

Finding a few favorite toys or books can be helpful. If you get some toys that they like, grab one when they are being naughty and try to get them interested in playing with that instead of whatever it is that they are doing. Here are a couple of our daughter’s favorites (LeapFrog Scout, Hop on Pop, Fisher-Price Rock n’ Sort Snail).

Have they had their nap?

As toddlers get tired, they get more naughty and tend to act out. This is pretty consistent between all toddlers, so it is important to make sure your child gets their naps and sleeps at night. I know, there are nights or days where they fight naps, and it is what it is, but do your best! We are currently in a day of fighting sleep as I’m putting this together, but not every day and night is like that.

These are a few tips to get you started on how to discipline baby. Of course as children age and learn, this will grow and evolve, but with young toddlers, you can begin discipline as long as you follow age-appropriate guidelines. The things that have worked best for us include these as well as a little cry it out. I’m not big on cry it out, but when she’s pulling the dog’s hair and we can’t seem to distract her, sometimes crying it out is the only option.

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How did these tips work for you on how to discipline baby? Have you got any additional information that I should include? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!