Saturday, November 26, 2011


At what point with your young child/baby/toddler, do you go from constant cuddles and on-demand care to setting limits and saying "no"?  That is a hard transition to make as you were told from the day your child was born to give your newborn whatever they desired.  So when do you stop?

If your baby was crying, you asked yourself if his diaper was dirty, or if he was tired, or hungry? Or was he crying because he was in pain from a diaper rash, acid reflux, gas or from being sick?  You were taught to do 'on-demand' feedings and to feed whenever she seemed hungry. Sometimes I used to nurse my baby every hour, every 30 minutes or every 2 hours during the day.

And you picked your baby up when they needed hugs and cuddles, were crying or seemed frustrated.

When they acted like they wanted a toy and made a grimace to give them something or 'turn-on' some electric toy, we gave in to appease them and make them happy, and we gave in because we were so happy they were learning something new!

Then when your child was more mobile and crawling or on the verge of walking and started tumbling, running into things and getting boo-boos, we picked them up and comforted their tears.

We still fed them immediately when they moved onto solid foods because we were desperately trying to get them to eat solid foods at any cost.  As they cried or used their sign language to show us they wanted to eat we would think, "What, you are hungry, of course you can eat something now!", and we gave in even though it was 15 minutes before their dinner time.

When they began taking steps, we let them run all over the house, as it was so amazing to us that they could walk and run.  When they started learning to climb, we clapped when they could climb up on the sofa, their chairs or a large toy.  We didn't say "no".

Soooo, when as a parent do you stop the on-demands and move into the "no, you can't"?

We go from yes, yes, yes, to no, no no:

"No, you can't have any more milk today" as you try to wean them from breastfeeding

"Sofas aren't for climbing on (no!)" as we try to teach them things are not for climbing on, because we know one day they will fall, or start to climb on other people's things like at Grandma's house

"I know you want a snack now, but dinner is in 15 minutes (no!)" as we tell a picky toddler eater who only eats ketchup anyway

We don't rush to pick them up for every little tiny bump on the floor because we want them to learn that A) we can't always be there to pick them up and B) sometimes you might trip and fall over a toy, and that's okay, you can get up and keep playing

So when do you stop going from on-demand to disciplining? Well, that is kind of a rhetorical question.

I know as a parent my job is to guide my child through life so she can one day be independent and on her own, making her own choices.  But I know it's hard as a parent going from constant hugs and snuggles to setting limits and saying "no" to things.  I miss those days of scooping up my little bundle of joy and taking away every ache and pain and fulfilling every need she presented.  But I know that putting tender loving care in my limit setting, creating boundaries, and being 'present' for your child is the best way to still be there for your little one at the same time you are helping them grow and live in this crazy world.



  1. Hey, have you been spying on me? This post really sums up my struggles with my 2-year-old. To make matters more difficult, I find myself giving in more often now that I have a baby... I just don't have the energy to set firm boundaries... off to do a better job with this today :)

  2. Don't stress about it at all, as a parent, we all do this. As long as we try half the time, that is a good goal and it sounds like you are doing more than that, so keep up the good work!! Hang in there ;)