8 ways to discipline with authority—and love

Hint: It’s okay to say no.

8  ways to discipline with authority—and love

So, your little babe hasn't even turned one year, and you are concerned the "terrible twos" may have arrived ahead of schedule? Fear not! Here's the scoop on proactive and practical discipline with your tiny tot! In my experience as a child psychologist, preschool teacher, and mama, I can tell you firsthand. A few preemptive discipline techniques can save you and baby from less-than-pleasant forms of punishment down the road. It's true that all children should have inalienable rights to their own thoughts and feelings, a sense of security, and a safe space to learn and live (just like adults do!). Of course, the moment a child begins to impinge on the rights of others (or themselves), discipline is needed to teach the child about the importance of these universal rights.

So, how can a mama provide effective discipline for her child while protecting these rights? By serving up just as much warmth as she does discipline!

Holding high standards for our children while simultaneously showing warmth and responsiveness to their needs is commonly known as authoritative parenting. Research indicates that authoritative parenting is related to positive social and academic outcomes for children. Plus, it is related to fewer problem behaviors, such as aggression and hyperactivity.

Before you pull out your hair over your babe's latest exploit, here are 8 authoritative strategies for setting clear boundaries while providing the warmth and flexibility your child needs to thrive.

To reward or punish, that is the question.

By disciplining your child, you are teaching the practice of living by an acceptable code of behavior. Discipline does not always involve punishment. In fact, rewards for good behavior offer a distinct advantage over punishments for bad behavior. Simply put, a reward tells your babe what he should do, but a punishment doesn't give an acceptable alternative to what he should not do.

Let's say your little one decides to give a few gentle cuddles to the family cat. If you praise baby's humane efforts, this sweet behavior is likely to continue. But if your little darling chooses, instead, to pull the cat's tail and you punish him, there's still no suggestion for what he might do instead.

So, what's a mama to do? Take your little one's hand, help him stroke the cat gently, and congratulate his newfound sensitivity.

Take preventative measures. 

One of the biggest sources of discord with a young child is curiosity (and a desire to get into everything). Unfortunately, baby's physical abilities and sense of adventure are miles ahead of his judiciousness.

Minimize conflict by making baby's space safe and welcoming. Of course, it's not possible to baby-proof everything, so pick a few house rules that are most important for keeping baby(and your sanity) out of harm's way.

It's okay to say no when a situation calls for it.

My tiny tot is not allowed near the stove when it is in use, and I am not afraid to tell him so. But because I use no prudently, my babe takes it seriously.

Pick your battles.

My son used to look me straight in the eye during mealtimes, say "uh oh," and then toss unwanted food on the floor, all followed by a mischievous smile. For weeks I would fume at this behavior.

Of course, baby thought my (over)reaction was hilarious and continued chucking food overboard.

One day I decided to simply ignore his antics. That was the last time he bothered with his amusing exploit. It simply wasn't fun if he wasn't getting my goat.

Moral of the story? Keep calm and carry on, mamas!

Consistency is key. 

Children need structure and reliability—even when it comes to discipline. When we follow through with promised consequences, our children are more likely to abide by rules in the future.

By giving in to bad behavior, we are sending a message that the behavior is acceptable.

The next time your tot throws a tantrum? Instead of bending to his (very loud) demands, simply say, "I'm sorry, but that's not how we get what we want. If you want something, you need to ask nicely." Ignore the remainder of the fit and it will cease quickly.

It may be easier to give in to a tantrum to end bad behavior in that moment, but research shows that focusing on long-term behavioral outcomes should take precedent.

Enlighten your youngster.

It's okay to have high standards for your child,as long as you can explain your reasoning. Children who are offered explanations by their parents are less likely to engage in problem behaviors.

Even if your child is a bit too young to understand your logic, it is never too early to start making good habits. It won't be long before your child understands your reasoning perfectly—even if he pretends not to understand a word of it.

The next time your tot breaks a house rule, explain why that behavior is not acceptable. "We don't play with electrical outlets because they are dangerous and could hurt you."

This time, Mama means it. 

Your kiddo is smarter than you know. If you consistently give your child two or three chances to stop a bad behavior before implementing a consequence, he will quickly learn that he has two or three more (helpful) warnings before he actually needs to stop.

Based on the discipline philosophy of Love and Logic (one of our favorites), the next time your child knowingly breaks a house rule, let him know that any more of that behavior will have a consequence. If it happens again, enforce the consequence as soon as possible.

Natural consequences. 

If your child is anything like mine, it won't belong before he learns how to open and close drawers. You may warn your child to be careful with those tiny fingers, but it is only a matter of time before those delicate digits find themselves stuck. Nothing will teach baby how to respect those drawers like a natural consequence—the inevitable result of a child's actions.

As long as baby is not in danger, natural consequences can be an effective tool for teaching your tot—without lifting a finger!

Time for a time-out. 

Although they should be used sparingly, time-outs can be highly effective if implemented appropriately. The AAP recommends introducing time-outs at one year, with one minute for each year of the child's age.

The time-out should take place in a boring and safe place—not in the baby's room or crib, to keep these spots happy and comforting for baby.

If baby leaves before time is up, you can return him to the time-out spot or sit with him for the remainder of the time-out.

Keep discussion to a minimum: "I am holding you here because you are in time-out. You are in time-out because you bit Daddy. We don't bite people because it hurts."

Once baby serves his time, engage him in a new activity and offer comfort if needed.

Alternatively, if there is a particular object that baby is using to make trouble, such as a misused toy, put the object in "time-out" for a few minutes.

We know how challenging it can be to keep your cool as your tot grows older, wiser, and feistier. The good news is, you will have plenty of opportunities to perfect the discipline strategies that will work for you and your child. We wish you luck (and patience!) in baby's lively second year.

Rarely is a woman more concerned with what her body needs than when she's pregnant. We start to question and research everything, right? From swearing off turkey sandwiches to diving down the rabbit hole of prenatal supplements that make up what we lack, the stress of overthinking is real, mama.

One of the main reasons we launched the Motherly Shop is to help take some of that stress away. We've tracked down the best brands and products developed by people (and in many cases, women!) that truly work to serve the needs of real mamas, especially throughout the overwhelming transition into motherhood.

That's why we knew we had to introduce mamas-to-be to the science-backed and expertly-formulated protein collagen for pregnancy from Needed. And as one of our bestsellers, it's clear you've been looking for it, too.

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9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.


Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.


Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.


The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.


The Snoo bassinet


Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!


Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.


Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!


Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.


Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

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