The moment your child is born, you begin preparing them for independence. That is parenting. It can seem like a big task, but the good news is that it happens in many tiny steps of nurturing, protecting, and guiding.
Explore this page to learn more about positive parenting, discipline tips, and resources.
Positive Parenting Basics
There is no such thing as a perfect parent, but there are endless ways to be a good parent. Positive parenting is one approach that involves tailoring your parenting to your individual child’s personality and developmental stage.
Early childhood can be a challenging time for both kids and parents. Remember that your child is not trying to push your buttons on purpose, but is doing the best they can with the skills they have. For young children, this can mean a lot of crying and acting out while they learn to name their feelings and use their words. By setting loving, firm boundaries and setting clear expectations in a safe, nurturing way, parenting is a lot more likely to be enjoyable for you. Setting this environment for your child early on makes it more likely that they will continue to come to you as they grow older.
Here are some tips for positive parenting
Focus on the positive
Children need to know what is expected of them. Make sure to tell them when they make you proud or when they are helpful or kind.
Fill your tank
If you are not feeling patient, pause and think about what unmet need you may have. Prioritize caring for yourself.
Nobody is perfect and parenting can be stressful. It is ok to have a misstep. The most important thing is to acknowledge it to your child and apologize.
Be a model
The most powerful way to teach your child how to handle tough situations is to model it yourself. We all want empathy and respect, so provide those to your child as well.
Take a few moments a day to play with, read to, or be affectionate with your child. Often, if a child is acting out, they are just craving your attention.
Positive Parenting FAQs
Why should my baby sleep alone? I feel safer with my baby near me.We know that when parents sleep in the same bed as their baby, they are trying to do what they think is best. Unfortunately, co-sleeping is really dangerous. Most sleep-related deaths in Baltimore happen when babies sleep with an adult or with other children. Remember, it doesn't take much for a baby to suffocate. Co-sleeping is a common practice in some cultures. While it is wonderful to preserve most cultural traditions, some need to be adapted. For example, American beds are soft, high, and have a lot of blankets and pillows. These features make them unsafe for babies. If you are worried about bonding, keeping your baby's crib in your room is a great idea! Share a room, not a bed.
My baby sleeps better when they’re next to me. What are some other ways to soothe them?The sleep habits you set now will carry into childhood. When you put your baby to sleep in a crib from the beginning, they will get used to it. You will also be able to sleep better and more soundly knowing your baby is safe. Here are some of the things that you can do to help your baby sleep peacefully in their crib: Swaddle your baby (NOTE: you should stop swaddling when your baby starts to roll over) Create a bedtime routineUse a pacifier Give your baby a massage The first few weeks with a baby are rewarding, but the lack of sleep can be challenging. Hang in there. It will get better.
But isn't my baby more likely to choke on their back?Many parents believe that babies are more likely to choke if they sleep on their back. This is not true. In fact, your baby is LESS likely to choke on his or her back. Watch the video clip understand why.
What if my baby can roll over?Once babies are able to roll over from back to stomach on their own, there is no need to watch or reposition them during sleep. Babies should still be placed on their backs for sleep, but you don't need to worry about keeping them that way. Do not use a pillow or rolled up blanket to keep your baby on his or her back. These items increase the chances of your baby suffocating.
My older relatives say that they put their babies to sleep on their stomach.You may hear from older relatives that they put their babies to sleep on their stomachs. A lot has changed in the last 20 years and we now know a lot more about infant safety. In fact, when pediatricians began recommending that babies sleep on their back, the number of babies dying in their sleep dropped dramatically.
Why do I need to get a crib for my baby to sleep?The crib is the ONLY safe place for your baby to sleep. Your baby shouldn’t sleep on an adult bed or couch or with pillows, cushions or stuffed animals. Your baby could be suffocated in these soft materials. Your baby also could become trapped in between cushions on a couch or get stuck between the bed and the wall. These tragic situations occur all too frequently in Baltimore City.
Won't my baby get cold without a sheet or blanket?Dress your baby in a sleeper for warmth, but do not use blankets or allow your baby to get too warm. Overheating can be a risk for SIDS. A good rule of thumb is to dress your baby in the same amount of layers that you are wearing. If the room temperature is comfortable for you, then it is also comfortable for your baby.
Is it safe for my baby to wear a sleep sack?Sleep sacks and wearable blankets can be part of a safe sleep routine. Because these are an extra layer, be mindful of overheating, a leading cause of SIDS. You can avoid overheating by following this rule: when inside, dress your baby in the same number of layers that you are wearing. If a room's temperature is comfortable for you, it's comfortable for your baby. Please also remember that not every product that is marketed for safe sleep is actually safe, even if it is sold in stores or online. For example, weighted sleepwear is not safe. Before you purchase these products, it is important to do your research and to ask your baby's doctor. To check if a product has ever been recalled, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Recall List.
What kind of crib should I get for my baby?Your baby’s crib does not need to be fancy or expensive, but it must be safe. There are many types of stationary and portable cribs (such as a Pack ‘n Play™ or the portable crib given out by HealthCare Access Maryland) that are safe—you just have to make sure that it meets current safety guidelines. When purchasing a crib, look for Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association (JPMA) certification. If you borrow a crib, check to make sure that the slats are no more than 2-3/8 inches apart. Widely spaced slats can trap an infant's head. The mattress should be firm and fit snugly in the crib. The crib sheet should fit tightly all the way around and under the mattress. Nothing else should be in the crib with your baby – no quilts, blankets, comforters, pillows, bumper pads, stuffed animals, or soft toys. Car seats and infant carriers should not be used as your baby’s bed. Your baby could get knocked over or roll over. It’s just not worth taking a risk.
Why is it important to have a smoke-free home?Babies who breathe in smoke are more likely to have lifelong health problems. They are also more likely to die while sleeping. Smoke is a houseguest that always overstays its welcome. Even if you open a window, it drifts around the house and even stays in fabrics and dust. Keep the air in your home clean by asking smokers to go outside. Here are some tips to make your home smoke-free: Ask smokers to smoke outside Get all ashtrays, matches, and lighters out of your home Post a sign on your front door so visitors know not to smoke
Doesn't my baby need to spend time on their tummy?Yes! You can provide 'tummy time' when he is awake and being watched. This will help strengthen his neck and arm muscles and prevent flat spots on the back of his head.
Positive Parenting Media Center
How can I teach my kids my values?
Giving Directions to Your Child
From Feelings to Friendships
Learn About Giving Timeouts
- CDC -
How Can I Teach My Values?
- Amaze Jr. -
From Feelings to Friendship
- Zero to Three -
Giving Good Directions
- CDC -
Parenting is a learning process. Here are resources that can help you grow and develop your parenting skills.