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Welcome to “NO!”

Author GreatDad Writers
Submitted 06-11-2007

Just before their first birthdays,
babies learn the meaning of “no.”
They spend lots of time shaking their
heads “no”—even when they mean“yes!” This may be frustrating for
you. But it means your baby is growing up. He is becoming independent.

He feels secure enough that he’s sometimes able to risk your disapproval.
He’s beginning to learn right from wrong.
To get your attention, your baby might do these kinds of things:

  • Turn the knobs of the radio to a blast of noise.
  • Throw food on the floor.
  • Push the buttons on the telephone.
  • Pull the dog’s ear.
  • Bite while he’s nursing.

Your baby will test his limits—and yours. As he moves toward the
telephone, for example, he may look back at you. He may have a guilty
look on his face. He needs an immediate response from you—a facial
expression or a gesture that says, “I’m paying attention to you. It’s not OK
to play with the telephone.”

Don’t overreact. Avoid yelling and strong corrections. These give your
baby the attention he wants, and he will likely repeat the behavior just to
get your attention again.

Instead, try to anticipate your baby’s behavior. Have you left him alone
for too long? Is he bored with his playthings? Does he need a hug? Give
him positive attention—he’ll be less likely to do something that you disapprove of.

You can also distract your baby. Offer a different activity. Move the
attractive, but forbidden, object out of your baby’s reach.

Avoid saying “No!” too often. The word will lose its impact. Save it for
important times, like when safety is an issue. In the examples above, respond
firmly—don’t smile—and tell your baby the right way to do the activity.

For example, if your baby is banging on the table with a spoon, stop him by
gently holding his hand. Say, “This spoon is for eating. Would you like
another spoonful of peaches? After dinner let’s find a big box for you to
bang like a drum.”

Give him information he can use in the future. Let him know your limits.
Enforce your rules the same way every time.

Spoiling your baby?

Parents often wonder if they can spoil their baby by answering his calls for
attention. Babies need contact with you. Contact builds trust and security.
Responding to your baby helps him be brave enough to learn independence.

Don’t be tempted to let your baby cry without going to him. At this age
babies have needs—not wants. They can’t figure out problems; they can’t
use logic. They don’t understand that you might be busy with something
else. They aren’t selfish—they just aren’t old enough to understand your
point of view. Babies who are left to cry are usually anxious and more

Parents who respond to their babies are not spoiling them. They are
helping their babies develop trust, security and confidence.

This content has been provided freely by CMC. Click Healthy Start, Grow Smart—Your-Eleven-Month-Old for your free download. Click GreatDad Free Ebook to download the entire Health Start, Grow Smart series.

Note: For info on sex after delivery, subscribe now to the GreatDad newsletter for new dads.

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