Disciplining a Baby?

I’m struggling with this one, and this is not an April Fool’s Day thing, either. 

What the heck do you do with a almost-nine month old kid as far as “discipline”? Lately Kale has taken to pinching me – both my breast and nipple while nursing, and my arms or legs while climbing all over me in the pre-nap cuddling – and I realize this is simply him learning to use his hands in an appropriate way, but still, UGH. I’m worried that he will pinch Mooki, for example, and that she will retaliate in a not-cool way because she’s a dog and dog language and baby language  don’t jive. Also, it’s hard not to jump when someone pinches you – and this kid has the IRON GRIP OF TERROR and honestly, there have been a few occasions where I have yelped and reacted out of sheer instinct. 

I’ve tried pinning down his hands, but don’t want to deny him of full mobility and exploration and HATE listening to him wail when I do that, I’ve tried the Voice of Doom and also the Face of Doom. I’ve tried redirecting his hands to other things – but when we are nursing and I offer him another object to pinch, he unlatches and then the Distractionary Object goes directly into his mouth and then I am back at El Distracto Bambino while nursing and that’s its own issue unto itself. I’ve done a bit of googling, but am a bit confused and frightened by all the “ass-vice” out there. I’ve read that when the pinching occurs, firmly telling him “that hurts mommy” and putting him down is the way to go but seriously, that will = nursing sessions that take HOURS and the current length of our nursing/chilling/going to sleep ritual is long enough thankyouverymuch. I have also read some advice that my gut says WRONG WRONG WRONG that suggests slapping your child lightly on the offending hand (yup, on an online parenting forum, sponsored by one of the main baby products players out there, can you believe that?) when he does this and I’m a big enough person to admit I tried this once and it was a big ol’ FAIL on so many levels and I don’t want to go back there AT ALL and I don’t even know why I tried it. 

Like I said, I realize WHY Kale has been pinching me, but I’m starting to get done with it – as in DONE WITH IT LAST FREAKIN’ MONTH – and find myself a bit exasperated and frustrated and there have been a few occasions where I have had to put him down in the crib and walk away for a minute or two, only to collect myself in the hallway and go back in and rescue him since he is standing up and wailing because dear deity in heaven, you left me and my life is over as I know it and oh the misery! And of course although we have learned to pull ourselves up to a stand, that whole sitting back down part is still confounding us. 

Trust me, I’m well aware that this is all “normal” development and to be honest I’m more whining that really looking for advice, but I have BRUISES on the back of my fleshy arms, people. GAH. 

THIS TOO SHALL PASS. I’m starting to think I should rename the blog that because if I had a nickel for every time I said it, well, let’s just say that my income issues post-mat leave would be solved.

13 years ago


  1. When Georgia does something she isn’t supposed to do I simply say no in a very firm voice. I try and use a very different tone to my usual voice so she takes notice. It does work sometimes but then G is a few months older than Kale so it might be some time before this is an option for you. I should also add that I don’t overuse the “no” – I save it for when it really matters.

  2. The stink eye! Ash knows I’m serious when I give him The Look. Also, cover up your skin so he can’t get at it. Ash’ll play with my other nipple (making me feel gross) if he has access, so I just never give him access.

    Besides that, I haven’t got any advice. 🙁

  3. Laughed at “IRON GRIP OF TERROR”. My husband tells me it’s because babies have so much leverage with their tiny fingers.

    I cry. Not always, I don’t cry when he was just waving his arms and hit me, but when he purposely hit, or scratched me even though he didn’t mean it in a hurtful way I would cry. Like real crying. He definitely understood that, as it was his main way of communicating at the time too. And, it seemed right to me because he was hurting me and I was trying to express that to him. I taught him some ASL so made the sign for hurt whenever he hurt himself and when he hurt me.

    Maybe try a nursing necklace, not long enough to get into his mouth, but distracting enough.

  4. I KNOW I KNOW, the PINCHING. With the Claws of Steel.
    Saying NO and Interrupting, Putting him down, etc. will prolong the nursing, BUT that won’t last for too long. Meaning if you do it a while, eventually he’ll stop.

  5. Yelp in a high pitch tone and then give him something to redirect e.g. stuffed animal or bone. Oh no wait.. that’s with puppy biting.

    Sorry Jen, I have no idea about babies but my much younger cousins used to to when I babysat them so I feel your pain.

  6. it’s such a hard one, they are so little that they don’t intend to hurt you, but they do!
    i’d agree with simone, redirect/distract etc.

    no one told me that being a parent would involve needing so many bags of tricks at hand!

    best of luck mama, you’re doing a great job!

  7. Hey Jen – Aidan is doing the EXACT same thing. He has also started to like sucking my nipple so hard and arching his head back so It feels like he’s put my nipple in a vice! Nice eh?

    I don’t know what to do either about the scratching/pinching. I cut his nails but they grow so fast and the only time I can cut them is when he’s sleeping and a lot of the time he wakes up.
    The pinching is worse though and it’s so frustrating because he’s finally latched on after screeching forever that I don’t want to take him off.

    He did it tonight and I put him down and he wailed. I let him lay there and cool off and tried again and he did it again so I gave up and just put him on his mat to play for 10 mins. He played for a little bit then realized he was starving and took him to the rocking chair and rocked full out.

    I’m finding if I rock full swing he calms down and relaxes in to the swing and he feeds well, especially when he’s very tired.

    Maybe give a rocking chair a go? I dunno.

    If you figure out a technique that works let me know!

    Oh btw, and I haven’t forgot about your email, I still need to write you back!! It has been a really busy week. 🙂

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