Be firm and stay stern

Although it’s entertaining to watch a baby determinedly trying to get back to the power point time and again, and you can’t help but admire their spirit, resist the temptation to laugh. Tell your partner about it and have a laugh later. The baby could think: ‘Oh goody, this is a game’ and mischievously grin and head back in the same direction. It wouldn’t be funny if they did hurt themselves, so take it seriously. :

Communication techniques

As the child grows, they can learn to feel proud of being safe, rather than always fearful of danger. This kind of training is also the earliest form of discipline, so it’s worth doing well and creating a co-operative mood in your child. As children grow older, more explanations can be used and you can even allow small hurts to let them see the consequences of their actions. In short, for safety at this age you need to:

– Organise the physical environment.

– Keep the baby under constant supervision.

– Rescue them from danger.

– Start to teach them self-control.

Babies can’t be naughty; they simply don’t understand.

For them, the whole world is of interest. They grab a shiny ‘toy’ which happens to be a sharp knife; they don’t know it’s wrong.

Babies can communicate long before they learn to talk. When they cry, they are sending us a definite signal, designed to be unignorable. We feel driven to respond and the cry affects our biology — a hormone called oxytocin is released in preparation for breastfeeding. Crying just sounds like crying at first and some of us resort to stuffing cotton wool in our ears in an attempt to muffle the noise and soften the tension it creates inside us.

In traditional societies, babies rarely cried. Their needs were always taken care of immediately, they were continually ‘in arms’ and were remarkably placid. Hunter/gatherer tribes in all corners of the world still have this ability to keep babies happy. Prolonged crying, in nature, usually means the baby is in distress and a part of us gets very worked up at the sound. Perhaps this is the adrenalin we would need if we had to fight to protect our babies.

Whatever the reason, most parents at some time or other will have violent thoughts towards their baby, under the sheer stress of fatigue and feeling of failure after ‘trying everything’ to soothe a fretful infant. If you were hit as a child, you may be more prone to violent feelings under stress. If you are unwell or overtired, or if you only inflict pain that they can’t understand. And you might do real damage, which is what you wanted to prevent in the first place.

When you take a stand with your baby, you are not blaming — you are saying by your actions: ‘This is not okay. This is a limit I won’t let you cross.’ These are the seeds of discipline. Here are some examples:

– Hold the baby’s hands away from your glasses each lime they try to pull them off, and say: ‘No, hands off glasses.’

– A sharp-toothed bite on your nipple as you breastfeed leads to a loud, involuntary shout. Withdraw the breast. When the baby gets over their surprise, offer the breast again, carefully.

– Pull them away from the power point and say ‘no’ loudly, and persist until they get the message. Eventually, the word alone will bring them away, then they’ll leave it altogether.

Have marriage or money worries, you are much more likely to feel distressed, so take extra care at these times.

All parents need a plan in case they find themselves desperate enough to feel they want to hit their child. These strategies work for us — you can add your own:

– Put your baby somewhere safe — usually in the cot.

– Leave the room and go somewhere quieter.

– Decide what you feel like doing to relieve your stress. If you feel like screaming but are too embarrassed, do it into a pillow. If you feel like hitting out, hit a bed or some soft furniture. Try and rip up a thick blanket or chomp it with your teeth. Run cold water over your face and hands; drink some of the water. Sit down and slow your breathing. Cry. Some parents keep a photo of their child looking really cute or happy and look at this to regain their sense of perspective.

– Get some human support, if you need it. Ring someone — a friend or a health visitor. This is important if you are having these feelings more than occasionally. You may be in a situation that is just too lonely and stressful, and need childcare or parenting help. Good parents go for help when they need support. Baby talk

You will begin to recognise slightly different tones and rhythms in your baby’s cries. For instance, a hungry cry might sound more forceful and urgent, compared with the weaker, lower-pitched, broken or repetitive cries of the tired baby before they fall asleep. Don’t be concerned if it all sounds the same to you; you will eventually learn the difference between a cry of pain and a complaint which sounds grizzly but not distressed.

If you were to try taking a toy away from a mobile baby, you can imagine the reaction. They will cry like a car with a battery problem. It ticks over slowly — ‘aaah aaah aaah’. The lip drops. Then it roars into action — ‘WAAAAAHHHH WAAAAAHHHHH’.