Sarah and I were sitting together in the living room at a party with our babies. Our daughters were at that age where you think they might understand you, but they can't talk back. Mine acted out for some reason and started fussing at me. Sarah and I shrugged at each other. I can't remember who admitted it first, but we both agreed, "we don't know what we're doing."
A few months later, Sarah recommended the book "Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood" and it was perfect timing. It's an easy read that gives practical applications so that you can immediately incorporate it into daily life.
The book talks about giving children choices, to give them the illusion that they have more control than they actually do. Let them make choices whenever possible, and when either option has no cosmic impact on you or anyone else. For example, "do you want to wear the pink shirt or the blue shirt today?" Or, when it is time to stop playing at the park: "you can either go down the slide or down the ladder, and then we are going home." The book says that if you give a child options, it's easier to get them to do what you need them to do when it really matters.
Another major point the authors discussed was how to make your kids take you seriously by not giving them so many warnings when they do something wrong. Warn them once, then if the behavior continues, take action immediately with a related consequence. For example, if they don't put away their toys when you ask, put them away for them in a place where they cannot get to them.
I can't say that I agree with everything the book said, but it was definitely worth reading and some of it has already been implemented in our home. Some principles outlined in the book are geared toward older toddlers, but much of it is applicable to babies. It's never too early to start building a pattern of consistency for your child.
They even have a website full of resources.
Find Lisa on Facebook at "New Moms."