There is no question that stimulation is important for brain development. Sensory experiences are said to be the ‘architect of development’. The reason is that when your baby’s brain is stimulated, connections are made between brain cells and learning happens.
However, as important as stimulation is for development; you should try to avoid over-stimulating your baby because overstimulation is not beneficial to development, it hampers emotional engagement and can wreak havoc with sleep.
So it’s a fine balance that you need to aim for. Here are a few guidelines on ‘sense-able’ stimulation:
1. Aim for suitable stimulation at appropriate times of the day – Choose a time of day when your baby has been fed and is well-rested. This may possibly be after the early morning nap. In a content state, your baby will best benefit from stimulation activities.
2. Do not over-schedule your baby – Instead of rushing him from one activity to the next, choose baby classes with care and thought and schedule them so they don’t interfere with your baby’s sleep times. An overtired baby will not enjoy or benefit from stimulation.
3. Stimulation groups can be a good idea – As a rule of thumb: babies under three months need no additional stimulation groups, as they are very susceptible to overstimulation. Babies under six months don’t need extra stimulation in the form of a group but moms benefit immensely from meeting other moms in a group and getting ideas for stimulation or massage at home. Between six and twelve months one group a week suffices.
4. Have some times of the day when your baby is not stimulated – And is left to just listen to sounds in the world or placed under the trees for some ‘natural’ stimulation.
5. Calm activities are important before sleep times – Keep stimulation for playtime during the day. When your baby shows signs of overstimulation, take him for a walk or put on soft calming music in this way the calming activity will also be beneficial to his development.