Children and adults can become bored – so can a baby become bored too?
Child psychologist Penelope Leach says 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 and 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
Adults are often the best source of entertainment for babies – the challenge can be in finding different ways of providing it. It may 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 watching television, or cart him along when you do household chores. Wearing your baby is also a wonderful way of helping him or her to feel at the centre of activity – part of the action – without being the centre of attention. Find out more about babywearing here.
The rhythm of a parent’s movement is very soothing to babies. 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 quickly 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 crib 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.
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), all 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 warns parents not to 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!
Anti-Boredom Activities for Babies
1. Tour Your House
Find everyday items in your house to expose the baby to stimulate their senses. Let them see pictures, hear music, touch things with differing textures.
2. Talk and Sing
All babies enjoy listening to parents and others talk. Sing your baby a lullaby or hum your favourite tunes.
3. Explore Objects
Place interesting, but safe, objects of differing sizes, colours and textures in convenient places where your baby can explore with them when they are awake. Parents have to think of doing these things for their young babies, as infants are unable to search out these things for themselves.
Never be afraid to try new things with your baby. When you do, let your baby’s responses guide you in discovering his/her interests and favourite things.