Children and adults can become bored – so can a baby become bored too?
Some experts, including child psychologist Penelope Leach, believe that even newborns can get bored and lonely if their caregivers don’t interact with the baby during their wakeful hours.
That being said though, don’t let the stress of trying to stimulate brain development make you feel guilty if you don’t spend every waking minute with your baby.
If a baby is peaceful and not crying, he most likely isn’t bored or lonely.
In fact, if parents jump in constantly with a song, game or activity, the baby may be robbed of needed rest, time to gaze and quietly process newly introduced stimuli and experiences.
Entertaining Your Baby
When ‘entertaining’ your baby, it can be as simple as interacting with your baby during household activities.
Encourage family members to talk to the baby, and let the baby join in you while you are reading, or cart him along when you do household chores.
Wearing your baby is also a wonderful way of helping your baby to be at the centre of activity – part of the action – without being the centre of attention. The rhythm of a parent’s movement is very soothing to babies.
Find out more about babywearing here.
When parents take their baby with them on walks or while running errands, it provides endless things for your baby to see, hear, smell and feel, and a variety of environments in which to experience them.
Being in the same environment day in and day out can make a baby bored – even grumpy because he wants to explore!
There are many ways to provide your new baby lots of different environments.
One simple way to do this is to move his cot or baby seat from one interesting spot to another.
At first, he won’t be able to see anything more than a foot away from him in great detail, but nevertheless, your baby will enjoy the delicate dance of shadows created with household movements and the varied shapes and bright colours that are both indoors and outdoors.
What Do The Experts Say?
According to Dr. Frans Plooij, one of the world’s top specialists in infant development and parent-baby interactions (as well as author of the brilliant book, The Wonder Weeks), babies can experience boredom.
Many babies clearly communicate when they are bored. They cry and exhibit restlessness.
Parents need to be aware that their baby may be looking for a new challenge.
Other infants do not demonstrate boredom as clearly. They withdraw and thus provide less visible and audible clues to their parents.
Dr. Plooij suggests that parents shouldn’t assume that a newborn baby can’t get bored. Newborns are unable to amuse themselves and require every bit of stimulation that their older counterparts need.
Don’t over stimulate, don’t under stimulate!
Videos and Bored Babies
Janet Lansbury, parenting expert and author of the book, Elevating Child Care: A Guide To Respectful Parenting, suggests babies are more likely to be tired or overstimulated, rather than bored.
On her blog, Janet shares that because an infant is sensitive and lacks the adult ability to “tune out,” he or she is easily overstimulated. When overstimulation is mistaken for boredom, a parent can then unknowingly make the problem worse by creating yet further stimulation.
What the baby really needs is a rest. Instead, parents end up scratching their heads, wondering why they have an even more overstimulated and exhausted baby.
“If we give the infant the opportunity to seek out safe discoveries that interest him, rather than showing him the things we think will interest him (usually things that, in fact, interest us), then the world will be his oyster. Boredom is not a natural part of an infant’s repertoire,” Janet says.
Janet also warns about the dangers of trying to teach and entertain your baby or child with videos, which she says is the quickest route to a passive, dependent, and easily bored child.
“The young child cannot make sense of the moving pictures and sounds on a television screen. And while he attempts to filter the overwhelming stimulation that even the most basic show emits, he eventually learns to desensitize, which sets him up for diminished learning abilities later in life. His inclination to actively seek to understand his environment is discouraged. If instead, we trust a child to strengthen his learning abilities through natural, self-directed exploration, we will observe our baby engrossed in activity for longer periods of time than we might think possible,” says Janet.
So, if you think your baby is bored, could he or she possibly be tired or overstimulated?
Does your baby have the freedom to explore on his or her own?
Are you becoming too reliant on screens and toys to entertain your baby?
Some questions to consider.