We are told on the one hand that our babies need stimulation. They need interesting and colorful things that they can explore, gaze at, touch, and play with. We’re also told that over-stimulation can cause our babies to stay awake. But is it true? In large measure, that depends on the baby.
On the one hand, it’s never a good sleep strategy to have your baby’s crib loaded down with too many visually stimulating items. Babies are not so different from adults in the sense that the place where we sleep should be designed to be a soothing, restful place. Covering your baby’s crib in loud colors, or putting toys in with baby while she lays in her crib will generally serve only to keep her awake as long as she can manage to keep her eyelids open.
With that said, however, babies will eventually fall asleep no matter how stimulating their environment is. Babies need lots of sleep, and under normal circumstances, their bodies will take over eventually and they will nod off to sleep. And, even in the most soothing of environments, you can’t make a baby fall asleep until he’s ready to fall asleep. That’s not to say there’s nothing you can do to encourage your baby to sleep. Before long, all parents figure out the tricks of the trade as far as helping the little one go to sleep. We’ve all been on those car rides around and around the block a time or two, waiting for out baby to fall asleep in the car.
When it comes down to it, the question isn’t really how much stimulation we should allow our baby, but when and where. While most babies could sleep through a hurricane once they get tired enough, if we’re trying to lay them down to sleep, it’s probably better to turn down as much of the light as you can, turn down as much of the noise as you can, and rock baby gently, or set her someplace where she doesn’t have too many interesting things to look at.
Make sure, however, that your baby does get plenty of interesting and fun stimulation while he’s awake, however. When it’s not time for sleeping, baby should be exposed to new sights and sounds. Part of the joy of parenting is watching these precious little ones experience the world around them for the first time. And making sure she has plenty of stimulation when it isn’t time to sleep is good for her development.