Magazine article Work & Family Life

Babies Need Some 'Downtime' Too

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Babies Need Some 'Downtime' Too

Article excerpt

Q My daughter-in-law thinks her new baby requires constant stimulation. How can I tell her politely that babies don't need to be "taught" or entertained all of the time?

- JA., Sarasota, FL

A Many new parents these days are preoccupied with their babies' intellectual growth. But "a stable, supportive family home provides all the stimulation a baby needs," according to Alison Gopnik, Ph.D., coauthor of The Scientist in the Crib.

Reassure your daughter-inlaw that babies are fascinated by the world around them. They learn best from simple activities like reading a story, grocery shopping or even gazing up at trees. Babies also need to learn, says Dr. Gopnik, that "sometimes I am engaged with you, sometimes I am not."

Babies need stimulating activities to be balanced with time playing alone. Follow your baby's mood. Look for signs of overstimulation. For example, a baby might avoid eye contact, fuss, squirm, tense up or lie limp. Here are some ways to encourage babies to relax and play on their own:

Don't rush in the moment your baby wakes up. Let babies watch the morning light flicker across the wall or stare out of a window from their crib.

Pursue independent activities while you and your baby are together. …

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