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Babies will explore, and parents need to balance their need to explore with keeping them safe.

Once the baby can crawl, they start moving around and find spaces and places that until now have been out of reach.

On one hand, parents are celebrating baby’s new-found curiosity as they discover all sorts of new things in their world. On the other hand, baby’s ability to move and their inquisitive nature can lead them into unsafe situations.

Ask the whānau:

  • What have you been noticing that baby has a new interest in?
  • What do you do when they want something that's not okay for them to have?
  • How do they respond?

Learning and safety – a balancing act

Finding a balance between babies exercising their curiosity and staying safe will result in times when parents need to limit baby’s activities.

The important thing for parents to realise is that babies aren’t behaving in this way to upset and annoy them — they’re exploring to learn.

Tips for guiding baby’s behaviour

Help parents with these tips.

  • Be consistent around rules. Avoid saying no to something one time and then saying it's okay another time. If it’s no once, it needs to stay no.
  • Have a small number of no's and stick to them.
  • Use a firm but warm tone of voice.
  • Say what the baby should do rather than what it shouldn't do. For example, ‘Sit down in your highchair’ rather than, ‘Don’t stand up in your highchair or you’ll fall.’
  • Try distracting baby with a different toy or activity. For example, ‘Here’s a soft ball for throwing. Books are for looking at.’

In the booklet Thinking about Parenting (page 7), it explains that:

  • children are born to learn and they learn through exploring
  • they’re not being naughty when they touch new things
  • adults can help by making the environment as safe as possible
  • when you see behaviour that’s not safe, be calm and act quickly
  • yelling at them will not help their learning.

There’s a section at the bottom of page 7 to record ideas about making the house more kid-friendly. Encourage parents to see if there are some small changes that could make their home more of a ‘yes’ environment.

How does this topic relate to Tākai resources?

Baby wall frieze – Homai ngā mea hei tākaro māku – give me things to play with.

Six things children need – Te tūāpapa mō te tika me te hē – limits and boundaries.

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