We have only a few limits because we will need to repeat ourselves many times until our baby’s will is developed enough to stop themselves, for example, from touching something they want to explore. Their prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for inhibiting themselves, is in the earliest stages of development and will be developing into their early twenties. So we need to be their prefrontal cortex. Teach them what to do, rather than tell them what we don’t want them to do: Remembering that babies are new here and just figuring out how things work, we can see ourselves as their guides, here to help them and show them how things work.
With this in mind, when the baby goes beyond our boundaries or limits we can see this as an opportunity to teach them appropriate and acceptable behavior. This understanding can make a difference to how we respond. If we are teaching the baby what is acceptable, we might say. “The water stays in the cup. Put the cup down here,” instead of “Don’t pour the water,” or “Why do you keep pouring the water?”
We might model like this: “I see you are done. Let me show you where the cup goes.” Modeling is so important in helping the baby figure out the boundaries.