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A Beginner's Guide to Discipline

Disciplining a baby sounds, at first, like something both mean and unnecessary. Indeed, while a toddler's behavior (or misbehavior) is grounded in a solid understanding of who you are and how you'll react to what she does, an infant's "misbehavior" is not at all intentional. When she yanks on your necklace or tie, she is simply exploring the new and mysterious world around her  -- of which you, the parent, represent the most important and alluring mystery. That's why your main objective during the first year should be creating the close, healthy bond that will form the basis of your relationship for life  -- and that includes your efforts to discipline her.

But as your baby steps up her experimentation with tricks that are delightful to her but downright annoying to you, your discipline goals will quickly  -- and drastically  -- expand. How do you discourage your child from perfectly normal infant behaviors that drive you crazy without punishing her or repressing her natural exuberance? Here are some strategies for dealing with the scenarios that try the patience of all new parents.