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ON OVER-STIMULATING THE BABY


I'm sure many of us know the experience of having gone to a new city, been in new circumstances or learning something and having felt quite saturated or overwhelmed after a short time from the new sense impressions and concentration required. This is what the newborn baby experiences in her waking life. Imagine you are unable to shut out sounds, light or smells and you are brought to a bright, loud, smelly place. This can often be the newborn's reality when she is brought to public places such as loud streets, parties, shopping malls, grocery stores, etc. 


Surrounding the child with gentleness in every way allows her to awaken to the world softly, and allows her to meet her surroundings out of her own interest and ability. When we observe a newborn startling at very little sounds, we can become aware of impressions that are likely coming at her too strongly or too fast. Eventually, a baby that is constantly over stimulated will become dulled to the stimulus:


 "When sense impressions are devalued like this [by overstimulation], the accompanying alienation from reality cripples genuine interest in the world." from A Guide to Child Health by Michael Glöckler and Wolfgang Goebel [1]


It is possible to stimulate babies and young children enough for them to learn to walk, read and develop other intellectual talents earlier than they would at their own pace. However, this redirects energy that would be used to develop healthy organs and a strong bodily constitution. Pushing a child too early into intellectual activities can be a detriment to them developing later into healthy, independently minded, well-rounded, creative human beings.[2][3] Of course babies are very resilient and can come through all sorts of circumstances with great health and vitality. But the question here is: what can best support a child to become healthy and capable in all spheres of life, even into adulthood?


Keeping the baby in gentle light, in quiet, and soft, natural surroundings will foster a healthy start for learning, socializing and for physical abilities. Parents, siblings and the world of nature around us are more than ample stimulation for a baby. It isn't necessary to have bright, squeaky toys or any media such as TV, radio or recorded music. A newborn has all the stimulation he needs just learning about the world and moving his limbs. 



See Respecting the baby's first tasks


The baby's surroundings


Learning and over-stimulation


How to make decisions


The negative effects of media


ARTICLES


On Stimulation - Davis and Keyser

Crying - Emmi Pikler

Development of movement in babies - Emmi Pikler


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[1] Glöckler, Michaela and Wolfgang Goebel. Guide to Child Health. Floris Books, Edinburgh and Anthropsophic Press, Hudson, New York 1990



[2] Zur Linden, Wilhelm, MD.  When A Child Is Born. Healing Arts Press, Rochester, Vermont 1998



[3] Elkind, David. The Hurried Child. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., Reading, Massachusetts 1989


Rest on the Flight into Egypt, circa 1603 by Caravaggio

Playing with baby by Adolf-julius Berg