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How to Teach a Baby Not to Touch

by Kathryn Hatter, studioD

Babies have an innate curiosity that fuels them to explore and investigate the world. In the course of this exploration, it’s only a matter of time before a baby finds something she should not touch. Boundaries exist to keep people safe, so the sooner your child learns boundaries about what she can and cannot touch, the happier and more secure she will feel. You can teach your baby not to touch items with firm and consistent discipline.

Put away breakable or dangerous items out of your baby’s reach to avoid unnecessary frustration and confrontation when your baby wants to explore, advises the Montana State University Extension Service. Childproofing your baby’s environment keeps him safer and minimizes the amount of disciplining you’ll be doing to keep him from touching forbidden items.

Teach your child the words “no touch” and “yes touch,” advises author and pediatrician William Sears, with the Ask Dr. Sears website. Reserve “no touch” for items your child cannot touch under any circumstances, such as the stove. Use the word “yes touch” to help your child learn the items that she can touch safely.

Use a firm tone of voice as you teach your baby what he cannot touch. Your voice should not rise; however, your child needs to hear the firm insistence as you teach him what items he cannot touch. You might say, “No touch. Hot. Stove will burn you.”

Redirect your child’s attention away from the forbidden item to show her something safe she can see and touch. You might say, “Let’s go find your stuffed turtle. That’s a ‘yes touch’ -- soft, fuzzy and nice!” By offering a safe alternative, you teach your baby the difference between undesired and desired behaviors, according to “Positive Discipline: A Guide for Parents,” published by the University of Minnesota Extension.

Remain consistent about the items you do not want your child to touch to teach this rule. Your baby is smart and observant. By using consistent limits, he will soon learn the beginnings of self-control to stay within the boundaries you set.


  • Never discipline a baby physically by slapping or shaking to teach your child not to touch. Positive discipline involves empathizing with a child’s frustration about not being able to touch and then providing an alternative that will distract your child away from the undesired item.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

Photo Credits

  • BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images