My 4.5 month old son has recently started to grab hold of hair. It seems to be out of comfort or for stability rather than for 'fun', but we would like to discourage this behavior.
Is there a way to do this without scolding him?
At 4.5 months, he is too young to really understand consequences. Most behavior (if there is no danger) can be discouraged by ignoring it completely (don't do anything that might give attention). The other strategy is redirecting.
For hair pulling at that age, you can try gently redirecting onto something else.
My son loved to pull on the hairs on my arms. It's surprising how much power these little guys possess!
I consistently said "ow!" and withdrew the arm (if I could). I hope he learned that my consistent reaction showed that it wasn't pleasant. At least, he eventually stopped pulling on my hair so it must have worked.
It's uncanny how many women who have always had long hair get a short (albeit still feminine) haircut when their first child is around that age. It also makes it easier to clean out the vomit :-)
Most parents I know say ouch, make a very exaggerated frowny face, and gently but firmly remove the hair from the hand.
It also helps to give the baby something else to hold onto, like a rattle. However, then you might need to check back with us in a couple weeks for tips on keeping a baby from whacking you with a rattle.
Also, generally when babies are in the stage of flailing until they can grab something, they are also in the stage of really loving being swaddled tightly so their arms can't move. It sounds uncomfortable to us, but they love it. They usually outgrow swaddling around the time they start crawling.