Monday, June 30, 2008

Love and Logic with Babies?

Book Recommendation: Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood by Jim Fay and Charles Fay, PhD. (

Setting limits and enforcing then is a basic foundation for healthy parenting. Your little one doesn't have to have a handle on the spoken word to be able to learn. Their little brains are amazing. In the first few weeks of life they build trust with the person(s) who care for them as they learn "cause and effect." They learn, "If I cry when I am wet ot hungry, this loving person will feed me and change me." It doesn't take long for them to discover they can use their crying to communicate other information as well. ( I'm bored. I'm angry.)

Parents can use the basics of Love and Logic very early by reinforcing their childs understanding of cause and effect. For almost any behavior, lead with empathy followed by a small "effect" or consequence. For infants that's usually restricting movement by holding arms or legs down very gently and briefly or removing an object, changing your location, or changing the child's location. A grandmother I know uses a sing songy "Oh no that's not good!" She sings the phrase in a very empathetic way then explains why baby has to lose the object they were misusing or be removed from what they were doing. She uses the strategy of moving them to a blanket in the corner for just a little bit. This grandma says that now all she has to do is start singing "Oh No" and the unwanted behavior stops. Using the same phrase everytime has helped the little one's in her care understand "cause and effect."

Baby squirms during diapering: " Oh No! I'll have to hold you still until you stop moving. "(Gentle holding)

Baby throws food: "Oh No! That's not good. Eating is over, down you go." (Change baby's location from high chair to floor.)

Baby is hitting a coffee table with a toy: "Oh No! That's not good. I need to take that toy now." ( Remove the object frm sight.)

Any smart baby will try to control the adult with crying at this point but empathetic reassurance that you love them (without giving back the offending object etc.) will help establish in their minds that crying will not cause adults to relent. This can be very hard on the soft hearted parent. Be assured you are blessingb them in a powerful way by holding firm in instances where it is clear they are being willful. However, at all other times, respond immediately, establish a warm loving relationship, and enjoy the age.


  1. I have a son who is 15 months old and he is quite a handful just like his sister (3 1/2). I was blessed with two strong-willed and determined children. Love and Logic has been a blessing for me.

    Take my son for example. Two instances today-

    1. Diaper changing is a chore. He rolls crawls and I chase. Then love and logic came. I said to him 'Oh No Colin, I am going to have to hold you still until you stop rolling.' It worked he lay back and let me change him. MAGIC

    2. Bath time. Splashing out of control having a fun time and making a mess of my bathroom. It the past, it was "stop splashing!" and he continued with a big smile on his face. Then Love and Logic- Oh No, the floor is all wet. Bath is over all done. Out you go. And screaming occurred but he knew. Next bath- amazing, no splashing.

  2. Hi, my daughter is 9 months and diaper changing is a challenge! I would like to implement your suggestion above but is 9 Months too young an age? How do I demonstrate empathy when she can't understand words... will an empathetic expression on my face and an empathetic sounding expression (with words obviously) work to communicate my empathy as I hold her down? Would you recommend holding her down while I change her diaper or for a moment and then resume diaper changing? Do I offer toys while changing? Also, she is just beginning to use 'wining/crying' to communicate with me that she is hungry. How can I use Love and Logic to stop this and replace it with another form of communication, for example Sign Language?

    Thankyou!! Eager to hear your insights.

    1. An empathetic simple phrase with the right tone will work. Some Moms use,"OooH noooo"said in a sing song empathetic voice. "This is so sad" works too. At 9 months your child understands far more language than they can speak.

      You can certainly offer toys while changing. If that doesn't work Love and Logic does offer gently holding a child still as one option.

      If she is starting to whine or cry when she's hungry... meet the need. It's a great time to use signs and to ask if she's hungry? As she learn to communicate you can encourage her to use her words. I hope this helps!

  3. Thanks Jill! That helps with the whining for sure!! I'm just confused by your second paragraph... what you do you mean by gently holding a child as an option? Could you walk me through the process? Do I hold her still while changing her, staying empathetic? Or do I stop the process, hold her still while being empathetic, and then try to change her again? And repeat that continually till she stays still (haha, I have visions of a diaper change taking an hour with this process! but maybe not? :S )

  4. By gently holding your child, I mean that what some parents have tried is stopping the changing momentarily, using an empathetic phrase (because empathy always comes before consequences) then gently holding your child immobile... this could mean leaning over them and using more of your body almost in a hug. They might continue squirming. You can say, "Mommy will stop when you are still." Try changing again and if they squirm again, use the empathetic phrase and hold them still again. Eventually it will get through. The first time you try this it can take several repeats so only try this when you are not frazzled. It should be the worst the first time and then get easier. You can clue other changers in on the same process. That being said if this becomes more tiresome then just doing the fastest change possible and getting through it t and you decide to pick your battles elsewhere... that's okay too.


Thank you. Your stories and comments are appreciated as we form a community that helps and encourages one another. You may contact the author, Jill Hasstedt at