My husband and I are often asked how we keep our baby so calm. He’s a good-natured boy, but people always say there’s just something about him….something magical. When we go out to a restaurant, our baby calmly sits in his car seat (too little for their high chairs) and sucks on his pacifier while playing with a small toy. He’s content and happy.
We know that’s not the norm for a child at his age (8 months) – and it’s especially obvious when we see how strangers react to his calm nature. We don’t have all the answers (far from it), but we’ve learned how to prevent our son from being overstimulated – exposure to bright lights and television are the equivalent of giving a baby a shot of espresso.
It can be frustrating to navigate the complexities of behavioral issues in children, but there are small changes in their habits that can make a big difference in how they interact with parents and their peers.
Aside from making sure our baby is fed and his diaper is changed before we go somewhere, there are other measures we take to ensure our baby is as content and happy as possible.
We do not allow our son to watch television – at all. He’s under one year old and we want him to do things that use his brain, as opposed to overstimulating it. We watch television while he naps, but we turn it off when he wakes up. He plays with toys that encourage his dexterity, hand-eye coordination and ability to understand cause and effect. He already seems advanced for his age in terms of motor skills and interaction.
No Light-Up Toys
Toys for babies almost always have some sort of light-up feature. It might keep their attention, but it overstimulates their brain and can interfere with sleep patterns. One day recently, our son played with a light-up toy for just a few minutes. We did nothing different in our routine, and that evening he woke up a several times during the night, crying and just wanting to be held. He usually sleeps through the night or wakes up only once. Likewise, he didn’t play with light-up toys at any other time. That includes iPads.
My husband and I love classical music, and our pediatrician encouraged us to play it often at home for our son. It is good for brain development in children, but we noticed an additional benefit. He was calmer and seemed happier when we played classical music while he was playing with toys or watching us make food in the kitchen. If you like contemporary music, check out the Pandora station for Piano Guys. Great stuff! Classical music is even more effective if you have dim lighting in the room. The combination of the calming music and reduction of light signals to your baby that it’s time to be calm.
Bringing It All Together
These changes are not always easy to make. However, I can promise you they are pivotal ways to encourage your child to play with toys that make their brain work harder to learn textures, shapes, colors and enrich their overall well-being.
Are there strategies you’ve used to encourage your child to be calmer and happier? Please share in the comments below!