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the newbie: Saying “No”

By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com

I think we’ve entered a whole new realm with June since she turned one (this week!). Discipline. Now that she’s crawling and cruising at high speeds (well, pretty high for a baby anyway), she’s getting into all kinds of things. Current favorite activities include: unspooling the toilet paper, pulling on the refrigerator door, and splashing in the cats’ water dish.

I like to let her move freely in the apartment—it’s small, so I can always see her, and we’re pretty baby-proofed (stair gate, outlet covers, door latches)—but I also need to start telling her “no” at some point, right? At the moment, I say “No” calmly but firmly, and then I move her to another area so she, ideally, gets distracted.

That water bowl proves to be too much of a splish-splashy good time, though- -she races for it as soon as I put her down. I don’t want to begrudge her some summertime water fun, but I’ve got to keep her out of the cats’ eating area! I’ll find a way to rope it off, but the larger question is: Is she old enough to understand the word “no”? She certainly stops and looks my way when I say it, but then there’s a grin and she pays me no mind.

Is it too early for discipline? Time for me to start stepping in calmly but firmly? If anyone has tips, I’m all ears!