When Does Discipline Begin?

Discipline at 4 to 7 Months

picking up baby

Linda Farwell

Age: 4 to 7 months

The Big Issues: Grabbing and Tugging

At this stage, you can start differentiating between needs and wants. "Your baby might want to fall asleep on your shoulder, but he doesn't need to," says Jane Nelsen, EdD, coauthor of Positive Discipline: The First Three Years (Three Rivers Press). "He needs to learn to fall asleep on his own."

Likewise, babies this age start to grab at everything. It's their way of exploring and learning what their hands can do. An agitated reaction -- a stern "No" or an "Ouch" (if he's got your earring) -- will only make it more fun for him. Instead, give him your poker face. When Nelsen's grandson started to grab her glasses, she simply put him down for a few seconds, saying nothing. Baby can't control his impulses now, but you're setting the stage for later on.

Teething can also have an effect on behavior. When Sharon Alworth's son started to bite while breastfeeding, the first instinct of the Florence, Massachusetts, mom was to scream. Instead, she pushed the 6-month-old's nose close to her body, and he let go. It took a while for the biting to stop, but in time he learned that if he wanted to nurse, no biting allowed.

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