Stimulation 101

Stimulation 101 – what is it, why do we do it and how do our little one’s benefit from it?

I think it’s fair to say that the range of toys available for babies is absolutely staggering. Walk into your nearest baby store or toy shop and you’ll immediately feel an overwhelming pressure to buy things for your child. Your reaction is perfectly normal. Most toys profess to enhance development and provide just the right amount of stimulation a baby needs. Clearly babies need these toys if they are to develop to their full potential and we’d be irresponsible to deprive them.

Well, not really. In fact, too much stimulation can be a bad thing.

Stimulation that’s just right 

Your baby’s brain is less developed than ours. For the first few months of life your little one is unable to control what sensory information they take in and how they respond to that information. Too much stimulation will actually have no benefit on their development because your child’s brain will go into overload and will not absorb any more information.

When there’s too much sensory information being processed in the brain, your baby hits a state of overload and becomes stressed. That stress on the neurological system hinders neuroplasticity. In other words, the ability of the brain cells to develop and form connections. What you want to remember is that a baby in a stressed state will not get any benefit from the well-intentioned stimulation they are receiving.

Preventing overstimulation

So what should you do? Listen to your baby and be aware of their signals. If you can see that they’re becoming overexcited or tired then remove them from the stimulating environment. Instead, provide calming sensory input to reduce their sensory load.

What do we know for sure? Regulating your baby’s environment with either calming or stimulating input is the key to a calm, contented baby who is receptive stimulation that enhances their development.

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Meg faure

Meg Faure

Hi, I’m Meg Faure. I am an Occupational Therapist and the founder of Parent Sense. My ‘why’ is to support parents like you and help you to make the most of your parenting journey. Over the last 25 years, I’ve worked with thousands of babies, and I’ve come to understand that what works for fussy babies works just as well for all babies, worldwide.