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At what age do toddlers understand 'no'

(20 Posts)
Mummyk1982 Mon 27-Oct-14 13:07:32

Hi all

My almost 7 month old daughter is starting to open cupboard doors, throw food on the floor (almost purposely though I'm not 100% sure it's on purpose). I'm determined not to say no to her all the time- I'll probably say things like "that's mummy's cupboard" or "we don't put food on the floor" etc- though I don't doubt "no" will come in to play! (As I type she's grabbed the remote control and I've said no!). Just wondered at what age do they start to understand "no"? Presumably it's the tone and facial expression as much as the word that makes them understand you don't want them doing something?
Thanks in advance!

AMumInScotland Mon 27-Oct-14 13:13:25

They learn to understand it when you teach them the association between the word No and the fact that you (gently) physically stop them from doing whatever it is while you say it. That's a lot older than 7 months so your focus needs to be on preventing things rather than banning them as she won't understand clearly for a long while yet.

But, to avoid being in a situation where you are always saying it, you can try to work through what things are going to be a problem and finding a way to make it not a problem - eg is opening cupboard doors a problem because of what is inside them? If so, think about moving dangerous or breakable things to a top cupboard instead.

BertieBotts Mon 27-Oct-14 13:18:31

Yep. It's not innate or you'd have the same word for no in every language. They don't understand any word until you teach them the association with what it means.

They get names pretty early, so that's a good one to use "Mummy's food, baby's food!" pointing or indicating which one you mean. Try to stick to as few words as possible for instructions and remember that whatever you say will give them the mental image. "We don't put food on the floor" brings an immediate mental image of food on the floor. "Food on your plate!" however (or even just "On the plate!") brings a totally different image.

slightlyglitterstained Mon 27-Oct-14 13:21:41

At 7 months DS couldn't really stop himself throwing food on the floor - his little arm would go up, and unless I took whatever it was out of his hand at that point, then it'd go on the floor. (Even if he really wanted it!).

DS is two and I think has only really fairly recently started to understand explanations properly. Think he's sort of grasped "ouchy! Hot! Don't touch!" since 14 months or so. But it's only recently that I feel sure he understands - before, as you say, he would get the idea from my tone that something was wrong but often wouldn't really understand what.

BertieBotts Mon 27-Oct-14 13:28:21

"Hot" is extremely useful and you can start with that now. When you're drinking a cup of tea or coffee, make it with boiling water so that it gets the cup hot but then drink or pour more than half of it away quickly (and top up with cold if you like). Now you have a cup which feels hot but the liquid inside won't spill or scald. When she reaches for the cup you can say "Ouch. Hot." Hold the cup so it doesn't spill on her but let her explore and touch the outside of the mug. It's not hot enough to hurt her, but it's alarming and she will make that connection with the word "hot".

Similarly you can do the same thing with the radiators. You'll need to turn the individual radiators down anyway so they are uncomfortable but not painful to touch (even so you need to keep an eye once she starts weight-bearing as if she leans on a radiator it could be a few seconds before she can find something else to lean on, or if she fell or got trapped against one she could get injured) Again when she reaches for the hot-but-not-too-hot radiator, you say "Hot", and maybe "Careful".

Very very useful to allow them controlled, safe access to what the word "hot" actually means without risk of injury, as it means you have an immediate danger word. It's also useful for food as well as you can say "It's hot, blow" to prevent them launching steaming hot food into their mouths!

MiaowTheCat Mon 27-Oct-14 20:03:57

DD1 definitely had it cracked before the 2 year mark - because she'd smirk and reply "yes" for a while. DD2 is 19 months or so now and I think is starting to get the tone of voice and "ah-ah" thing but the actual "no" word isn't there at all yet so I try to not use it that much because I don't want it to become meaningless fast.

Frusso Mon 27-Oct-14 20:11:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BotBotticelli Tue 28-Oct-14 08:20:56

DS understood no by around 13mo...and then started wilfully ignoring it!! I would suggest rearranging your cupboards so food/breakable things are up high, and putting locks on cupboards with dangerous stuff in (you can buy baby proofing cupboard catches from amazon). Leave a couple of low cupboards full of stuff you don't mind her pulling out: Tupperware, baby bottles, tubs, tins etc and let her get stuck in whilst you're cooking. It's inly a phase and by 12mo or so she won't be interested any more.

Agree that rather than saying no when she grabs the remote, the easiest thing to do at 7mo is keep it out of her reach and say mummy's if she reaches for it. Then distract and give her something else she CAN have. It's all about picking your battles!

MiaowTheCat Tue 28-Oct-14 16:07:31

...Unless of course you end up with my DD2 whom I've had to literally remove from the mantlepiece getting toward 100 times today... there IS no out of reach with that child! In those cases you just count the seconds till you can open the wine!

ColdTeaAgain Tue 28-Oct-14 20:25:40

DD first started to understand no at around 14 months but ignored it the vast majority of the time! Now at nearly 17 months she definitely knows what no means and the ignoring has improved to around 60% of the time grin

ColdTeaAgain Tue 28-Oct-14 20:27:49

Also am convinced that when she starts talking she will tell everyone that her name is "Get down!"

Iggly Tue 28-Oct-14 20:29:06

She's 7 months.... So distract distract distract. All the way up to 2ish.

Then you can try no..... But with dd it doesn't work! I have to tell her what she should do instead. I can't remember what ds was like.

flanjabelle Tue 28-Oct-14 20:32:10

Dd is nearly 13 months and has understood no, don't touch for a couple of months. If she chooses to ignore it then I gently move her away and distract with something else. Most of the time she stops what she is doing, but she does have very good understanding already.

Mumoftwoyoungkids Tue 28-Oct-14 20:32:50

Ds is 17 months and definitely understands it. When you say it he grins and says "yeah, yeah, yeah" before carrying on.

lightgreenglass Tue 28-Oct-14 20:35:51

DS is 13 months and has understood no and hot for a while now. He does repeat no no no back to us with a cheeky grin. With hot - he hovers over the object then backs off.

flanjabelle Tue 28-Oct-14 20:53:45

Dd shakes her head when you tell her no, it's so cute. Then she goes back to the thing she shouldn't be touching, looks at you and shakes her head. It's as if she is saying, "look mummy, I'm not touching it because you said no". Adorable.

NorahBone Wed 29-Oct-14 18:22:58

flange my 11mo does the same. For the last month or so he'd stand next to the tv, touching it while shaking his head and saying naaa! Bit disappointed he doesn't seem to recognise the word any more - I think he picked it up from sleeping bunnies ("are they ill? Noo)

Quodlibet Thu 30-Oct-14 08:27:08

My 10m old understands 'no' and 'uh uh' - she will drop something she has been told 'no' about and sometimes make a really funny frustrated flapping with her arms as if she's pretending she wasn't really touching it. She doesn't always cease and desist when told 'no' but she definitely understands it and has also recently started shaking her head.

vdbfamily Thu 30-Oct-14 09:02:45

It helped me a bit when someone told me that life is one big scientific experiment for babies/toddlers and so when they peer over the edge of their high chair and watch their sandwich drop to the floor they are learning about gravity etc. I think they know what 'no' means quite early on,you can generally tell from their facial expressions but agree it is good to distract them. We had one cupboard with all the tupperware and plastic cups in and this was where my kids played at emptying cupboards whilst I did stuff in the kitchen.I never had locks on the other cupboards but they learnt that was the only one they were allowed to play with. I usually added a wooden spoon to the mix so they could bang and make noise.

Mulligrubs Fri 31-Oct-14 23:08:57

My 11 month old definitely understands no and has for a while. If he's about to do something potentially dangerous (like poke a socket) I raise my voice a bit louder and firmer and say "no, dangerous!"

Sometimes he looks at me and will smirk and carry on. Other times he will look at me and cry straight away.

I think as others have said they need to associate the word no with you removing them.from the situation (I have always picked DS up and moved him if I say no)

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