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.

Choose the right baby class in baby yoga

Which class is right for us?

Choose the right baby class

How do you choose the right baby class for you and your baby? You are interested in baby yoga – but which class do you choose? A lot of baby yoga providers only offer classes until baby can move on their own – Child’s Pose Yoga is different. There are classes that are perfect for tiny babies right through to the toddler years, and beyond!

Below is a quick explanation of the classes I offer.

All classes involve yoga moves for both parent and baby. They are about connecting and bonding together, through the practice of yoga. I split baby classes depending on your baby’s ability to independently move around. I also structure classes around the babies, taking into account their need to foster close attachments with their carers. 

Pre-mobile Babies

Mother is seated, leaning over baby lying on ground, looking into baby's eyes. Mother has coloured juggling scarves to play peek a boo with.
Playing peek-a-boo in class

The first class offered is the baby yoga class – for babies from 8 weeks until they are crawling. These classes revolve around the connection between parent and baby – they are about bonding, gentle movements, and support. There are a lot of baby moves to assist in the development of their growing bodies. Mum moves take into account postnatal recovery, and babies need to keep mothers close. 

Crawling Babies

‘Tots’ classes are for mobile babies. This can mean crawling, rolling, bum shuffling, toddling – or any other form of movement. When babies become mobile, they naturally want to move and explore. This can make doing yoga with them more of a challenge.  Rising to the challenge is about organising fun filled classes where we let them move, and go with the flow. You will engage your tot with more dynamic baby moves. When their desire to explore or move takes precedent, we do more adult yoga – increasing the amount of moves we learn and practice in class.

At the mobile baby stage, I also provide use a few more props for engaging babies in the yoga session. I am really happy to use Yummikeys and Yummirings in all classes, they are great for teething and sensory play. I recently agreed to be a Yummikeys stockist too – so you can get your own set in class if you like them!

crawling baby looking into camera in foreground, mother doing yoga in background
Babies love to explore!

Tots classes are suitable for older babies and young toddlers until they are about 18 months old, or until you want to try them in a toddler class (it’s best discussing this before booking them straight into a toddler class).

Mixed classes

Occasionally, I will run some mixed classes, combining age ranges and abilities. Babies often love these classes, as they get to interact with younger and older babies. If you are unsure which class works for you and your child, these classes contain a lot of alternatives, and you can pick the one that suits you and your baby best. 

Check out our timetable to find a class to suit you! (If there isn’t one near you, please do get in touch. I’m happy to put on a new class if there’s a demand for it!)

Please also get in touch if you are still unsure, I can help you choose the right baby class!