Modulating stimulation is a fancy way of saying that as a parent, you need to control the quality and amount of stimulation your baby gets. We know that parenting comes with a lot of responsibilities but the one responsibility we take very seriously is ensuring that our baby develops to their maximum potential. The question is how can we best enhance our baby’s development?
Your baby’s developing brain
In recent years, it’s become accepted wisdom that a certain amount of stimulation is necessary to optimise a baby’s development. The reason is an interesting one. A baby is actually born with all the necessary brain cells for all areas of development. In order to make sense of the world, the baby’s brain must make connections between these brain cells. It is sensory input or stimulation from the environment that assists in the formation of connections between brain cells that develops intelligence and coordination. But if a brain cell is never used, it will eventually disappear. For instance if a baby never hears a musical instrument being played, they will eventually lose the brain cells that could contribute to musical brilliance. It truly is a case of ‘use it or loose it’.
A balanced approach to stimulation
This information is enough to send any parent into a frenzy of stimulate, stimulate, stimulate! But is more the really better in this instance? The answer is no! If a baby’s immature brain is subjected to an overload of stimulation it reacts by becoming overwhelmed. In this state, the brain can’t use all the well intentioned input. For instance, a 6-month-old who gets overstimulated at a moms and babies stimulation group, won’t benefit at all from the activities.
We need to have a balanced view of stimulation. This means that we don’t avoid overstimulation at all costs and do nothing for our children. But instead, we modulate or control stimulation in order to enhance development. We do this through an enriched environment and routine.
The guiding principles for stimulation
Use the following principles to provide an optimal environment for development and learning:
Timing is of the essence when it comes to stimulation.
- Don’t stimulate a tired or irritable baby. Rather use calming input to help them settle down to sleep.
- Introduce games, toys and activities at times when they are alert but calm so they can get maximum benefit from the experience.
- Rather than planning your day around stimulation activities, incorporate development-enhancing activities into your routine.
- Don’t over-schedule your child, taking them from one activity to the next.
Watch for signs of over stimulation.
Don’t stimulate your baby when they are already showing signs of overstimulation. It’s better to remove them from the activity or environment in order to avoid further stress.
Don’t overwhelm your baby with an array of bright, state-of-the-art toys.
- Two to three toys on a play mat will encourage meaningful play instead of overwhelming your baby.
- Babies often respond best to the most simple of everyday objects – like a box or spoon.
- Remember to allow your baby just to play with no pressure to achieve a developmental goal.
So, there you have it: the key to a contented baby who benefits from their world is to modulate the stimulation they receive. Parent Sense sends you a play idea everyday to help you stimulate your baby with age-appropriate activities to enhance their development.