I think that we have reached a stage in which little C. needs and wants to learn the word “no”. She is nearing eight months now, moving around more, grabbing everything, and putting it in her mouth.
I think that it is important that she is able to experience her environment, get to know things by touching, smelling, and putting them in her mouth. However, I think that it is equally important for her to learn that she is not allowed to touch some particular items (e.g. the toilet brush, adult books, or the phone) .
Why do I think that she needs and even wants to learn the word “no”?
During the last couple of days I have noticed the following situation: She crawls towards a particular item – such as the toilet brush (while we are in the bathroom to empty the washer). She then stops and looks back at me to see how I react.
I quietly say “no” to her and move her into a different direction. She seems quite content with my reaction and happily starts to take an interest in a different item, e.g. one of the toys or household items that I consider safe for her.
She more and more starts to look for my reactions. It gives her security that I either encourage her to check out an item further or say no and guide her to something that is okay for her to play with.
I recently ordered a book by Claudia and Eberhard Mühlan which explains that the following three parenting strategies are useful and legitimate for the crawling stage:
1. Accompany the baby with comments (commenting the baby’s actions in a loving way i.e. encouraging or forbidding as described above)
2. Patience and consistency (repeat the same procedure patiently and consistently teach the baby that an item is off-limits )
3. Distraction (offering the baby an alternative, e.g. a toy, to avoid unnecessary confrontation)
The authors, however, encourage that parents shouldn’t avoid any confrontation. In particular, if the baby provokes a power struggle, parents should follow through and teach the baby that it has to obey mommy and daddy. I am not yet sure how to recognize a power struggle in this age. But perhaps one recognizes it as soon as it happens?!
(Source: Mühlan, Das große Familienhandbuch, p. 222 -223; also available in English under the title “The Wellfamily Handbook”)
Experienced mommies, do these strategies for babies the crawling age work? How does a power struggle look like in this stage? Any further tips for first-time moms crawling babies?