Reducing sensory overload for moms, babies and toddlers
Posted: 20 May, 2016
By: Annemarie Lombard
Section: Education, Parenting
For mothers with small babies:
* Rest when your baby sleeps. You need it, deserve it and will be a better mother as a result!* Take time out to de-stress: read, watch a movie, shop, go for a massage, etc. And do not feel guilty; raising children is a demanding task, you need and deserve me-time!
* Don’t try to be perfect and do it all. It is OK to delegate; use granny, get a babysitter, full-time housekeeper, use a friend, and use DAD!
* Create a quiet and calming space within your home where you can go and “hide” when necessary…
* Love your children, be consistent and do your best! Perfection is impossible and un-obtainable when raising children.
* Don’t wear perfume and/or perfumed lotions. Chemical smells can easily overload babies and result in fussing and crying.
* Establish a routine for feeding, sleeping and playing. It helps babies to feel calm, safe and secure. It will also help you to cope with your baby’s demands.
* Do not play too much and/or give your baby too much toys at the same time. They get overloaded quickly and need short periods of stimulation. Today we tend to overload rather than under-stimulate children.
* Snugly wrap your baby in a soft blanket when they are fussy. Deep touch is calming for babies.
* Baby massage is a wonderful sensory tool for calming babies.
* Use a baby sling or pouch as it provide deep touch for the baby within the mother’s comforting space and smells.
* Gentle, rhythmic, rocking movement is calming for babies.
* Use calming and gentle rhythmic music to calm babies.
* When you go out, observe sensory qualities of an environment. When it is noisy, with bright lights, lots of people and/or smells it can overload your baby. Minimise such events or places.
* Your baby’s cot should be free of bright hanging toys and objects. Sleep time should be calming not stimulating. Rather place the bright mobiles over your baby’s changing mat or play mat.
* Have firm boundaries, be consistent and have a routine. It helps toddlers to feel calm, safe and secure.
* Arrange birthday parties in the morning when toddlers will handle the loud, noisy and busy environments better.
* Try to get your toddler to snack on healthy foods (fruit, biltong, popcorn, pretzels, nuts, raisins, etc). Colorants and preservatives are big culprits for creating over-active behaviour.
* Teach toddlers to pack away while playing, using one game or toy at a time. Cluttered environments full of toys can be over-stimulating. At the same time you will teach your toddler important organisational skills.
* Give your toddler regular movement opportunities (run, jump, jungle gym, etc). It is organising for their brains and stimulates motor development as well. Limit passive TV time!
* Use a calming bed-time routine. Warm baths, dim lights and a bedtime story (no dragons or witches) told in a soft and gentle voice.
* Create a special “womb-space” for your toddler in his/her room. A pop-up tent works well. It is not time-out from a disciplinary point of view but rather creating quiet spaces where he/she can self-calm when necessary. It must be off limits to other siblings.