Are Baby Classes Causing Sensory Overwhelm?

The case for simple parent and baby classes to avoid sensory overwhelm.

Are some baby classes causing babies to become overwhelmed? Can you tell when your baby is overstimulated? Do you know what the signs might be?

Behavioural signs

crying baby
Babies use body language and cries to communicate their feelings.

If babies are overstimulated, they will try to disengage. They might seem fussy. Furthermore, their movements might be jerky, they might continually look away and avoid eye contact. Their eyes may glaze over. Babies may start crying if the source of over stimulation is not removed. In some cases they will even fall asleep as a protective measure to try and avoid the stimulation.

Because our society is OBSESSED with infant sleep (that is a whole other blog post!) – this is often interpreted as a good thing. I have seen this spoken about as a great benefit of some baby classes that offer lots of external stimulation.

Classes appeal to parents

It is my personal view that a lot of baby classes (including some other baby yoga classes) are not ACTUALLY designed for the benefit of your baby. Classes with all the twinkly flashy lights, noisy bits, and fancy themed layout – you know the ones. They are actually designed to appeal to the parents, providing fun photo opportunities with baby. But, if you are looking to actually connect with your child, you just need to be with them, use your voice, and interact. The added extras are just distractions, fluff that can actually interfere with healthy development.

Our baby classes are different from a lot of baby classes – I don’t use a lot of props. Why? Because your babies don’t NEED extra sensory stimulation. The world is stimulating enough, in fact too much input can lead to sensory overload.

Babies just need you

In class, I guide you to use touch, movement, our voices and interaction. I have a couple of very simple props that I repeatedly use, so babies become used to them. However, most of the time I concentrate on the connection between you and your child.

3 mothers sat next to each other in circle, withbabies lying on ground in front of them. Mums are looking at babies, and using their hands to get babies attention as they make movements for song.
Calming babies using just their voices and bodies

I plan all my classes to help with development in a gentle, considerate way. You learn ways to deal with an overstimulated baby, for when life is just a bit too much. Our everyday living can be overwhelming to a baby – bright lights, loud noises, strong smells. It is therefore useful to have some ways to help sooth an overwrought baby whilst staying calm yourself.

mother lying on her back, making eye contact with baby. Mother is holding baby at arms length over her, so baby is 'flying'.
Bonding, flying, building strength.

Some parents view my baby yoga classes as a time to be peaceful and relax and bond with baby – and with other mothers in the class too. Take away the bells and whistles and there is more time to connect.

 

Edit : After posting this article, I realised that I had not given credit to the wonderful training body that instilled the values I hold dear in my classes. Birthlight train baby yoga and baby swimming teachers to be loving and respectful of babies and their developmental needs. The teachings are true to the philosophy of yoga, and I am honoured to have received their guidance. 

In addition, it’s not just baby yoga that provides classes without the extra sensory tools. There are some great baby swimming classes, sign and signing classes and infant massage classes that all are firmly focused on the bonding between baby and parent. So, if your class isn’t flashy, it’s not because it’s boring your baby – there is solid reasoning behind calm classes.

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