Friday, February 19, 2010

Rearrange Environments of Infants

Eliminating behaviors in infants could slow the development of important skills. For example, the child who is beginning to pull herself to a standing position to reach various objects is clearly learning from her efforts. She will not profit if, after struggling to her feet, she is scolded or slapped on the hand for reaching for a forbidden object. Baby-proof your home by storing fragile or unsafe items. This will immediately eliminate the negative aspects of normal exploratory behavior. Replace the objects with others that are harmless but interesting enough to reward standing up.

By making your home safer, you will have less need to punish or restrict your baby. A mother once asked me how she could stop her child from crawling up a dangerous flight of stairs. She seemed to be looking for some exotic approach and was surprised by my simple suggestion that she install a baby gate to block the child's access to the stares.

Other problems stem from faulty schedules. It is easy to misjudge your child's sleeping, eating, and eliminating needs. For example, the child who still needs and afternoon nap may become extremely irritable when these naps are terminated. or a child may fuss because he needs to be fed at shorter intervals. The obvious way to deal with these problems is to rearrange your schedules to suits your child's needs.

Dr. Tom, 2/19/10

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