This morning, my crawling into-everything daughter and I went to visit my friend and her new 3- week-old baby. I knew my daughter would get into all of her no-no household items, so I came prepared with her Johnny Jump Up and plenty of toys. But my daughter was going to have no part in getting into her jump up. Why? Because she was in a new, exciting, stimulating and fun place to explore, explore, explore. She begged me to get out as if asking, "how on earth can you expect me to stay confined in this contraption when there is so much new stuff out there for me to get into?"
My efforts to do some chores to help out my new mom friend were not working out so far. I was supposed to help do the dishes, some laundry, and watch the baby while she rested. But, not so much on this trip. Luckily, I was able to help her out a lot more the day before while my husband watched my baby.
But of course her crawling all over the place and getting into everything doesn't stop at visiting other people's homes. She loves to go straight for our own stereo cabinet that we have child proofed as much as possible. She also loves going for the dog food bowls and the wires hidden under our sofa. Basically her favorite toys are things she is not allowed to have, the no-no toys. She laughs as she crawls by her old toys like her animal barn, tambourine and play table as if to say, "what, those old things? Ha mommy! I am so over those it's not even funny."
How many of you have been there? Playing with your coffee table, cell phone, pulling up on stools about to tip over, trying to stuff her sippy cup into the cabinet or DVD player.
Even though it's hard to understand, this is a huge developmental stage for them at this age (6-15 months). Exploring their environment is how they learn and use their senses. My daughter for instance uses her mouth to explore everything- it's as if her mouth is her hand since she seems to 'feel' things better with her mouth than her fingers.
And since children this age don't know any better, they lack the developmental ability to know right from wrong, it makes it hard to discipline them. So how can you curb their behaviors?
-Well, as I've mentioned limit setting on here before, you can use limit setting language, even though they are still too young to get it. At least they will learn limits early on. For instance, when trying to eat your iPhone, calmly remove the phone and tell them, "I know you really want to eat this, but it is not for eating..here, you can eat this teething toy instead."
And while we are on the limit setting topic, remember that when we tell them "don't" and "no" too much, it can turn into power struggles later on. Practice limit setting without these words and save the "no's" for dangerous situations so they know you mean business!
-When she is moving towards your stereo, quickly scoop her up and divert her attention elsewhere. All the while holding her and giving her lots of kisses while moving her to a new area of your home where she can play. Easier said than done if she does this ALL THE TIME. It may require more childproofing and baby gates surrounding areas she is not allowed.
-If they start throwing things across the room, or throwing their head back for that matter, quickly assess if they are tired and needing a nap, or are hungry. If you think they are just throwing things to see cause and effect, then give them something safer to throw. Also, remember that at this stage, children are growing so fast and learning to walk faster and run, so their nap schedules may be changing too and they could be needing a nap sooner than you think.
-Some moms also report good alternatives are taking your baby outside for awhile for a change of scenery, taking them to a park or if the weather does not allow it, getting in the car and driving to the nearest mall with a playground.
And finally, if you are at the end of your rope, you can always do what our pediatrician recommends, "put your baby in a safe play zone such as a play pen." Not as a punishment of course, but when she is getting into too many things and you need a break and as she does too. You can view it as a "time-in" while she plays. I know a lot of moms think play pens are little jails, but remember that babies and children like to feel safe and play pens actually comfort them. As long as you don't leave them in for more than say 20 minutes or so. You want them to feel safe, not a feeling of terror! Plus, you may need to use it so you can run to the bathroom real quick and have a safe place for her to be and not worry :)
How about you? How do you handle your baby getting into everything?