Keeping baby safe, and beginning to think about discipline, as baby explores their world.

In Whakatipu booklet Te Pihinga 2 (page 15), Pēpi says, ‘I’m learning lots. I can do things more easily… I’m physically stronger, and able to reach higher and move faster.’

Before a child is mobile, parents have control over their child’s environment, experiences and interactions. But with baby’s growing desire to explore more widely, new challenges for the whānau emerge.

Playful child

With mobility, a child is able to start interacting with whatever’s within reach, or will make their way to whatever’s most interesting in the near environment. They’re naturally venturing further as their physical strength and crawling ability develops.

‘Tamaiti haututū – Playful child’, also in Te Pihinga 2 (page 20), explains this stage of development.

‘Pēpi is now continually exploring and trying out everything he comes across. He is curiosity-driven with no sense of danger, so he relies heavily on his whānau to look out for him. Gates on stairs, locks on cupboards and covers over electrical outlets all help him to explore safely and independently and lessen the number of times we have to say kāo'.

‘Discipline is how we teach and guide pēpi. Discipline includes positive attention, encouragement, realistic expectations and routines.’

Meanwhile, in ‘Pēpi says’ on page 16, baby reminds us – ‘I get hōhā when I can’t do what I want to.’

Good relationship and guidance

Many parents might see this stage as the start of them having to think about discipline – teaching and guiding their pēpi, in order to keep them safe. However, in reality this process begins right from birth.

It’s the quality of early relationships, including effective communication, that are most important. They’re the basis not only for effective discipline, but also for the child’s ongoing learning throughout their life.

Bonding, listening and supporting

Learning happens best in the context of a relationship. Adults interact with baby to establish a bond, and bonding is about developing baby’s sense of trust. Listening and talking to them helps babies and toddlers to feel safe and supported, which is key to their learning and development – especially as they start to independently explore their world.

Learning from baby

Other adults may offer whānau advice on how to be a good parent. In fact, their child is the one who can give the most important information about what they need.

Help parents to:

  • try and see the world through the eyes of their child
  • think about how babies make sense of the world and what they’re learning
  • to use tone of voice, facial expressions and words to let pēpi know when it’s ‘their turn’ to talk or play
  • provide safe and suitable play environments
  • slowly build up their ‘code’ of what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, according to their culture and what they believe is important, while keeping their pēpi safe
  • provide caregiving routines cheerfully, and involve their baby too
  • ensure children are seen as part of the family and are considered in family routines.