Category Archives: Relationship General

Holiday Overstimulation and Visiting Family

Hi folks,

With the holidays upon us, I’d like to share a post I wrote last December. I can’t “re-post,” so please follow this link:

Holiday Overstimulation–Let Baby Turn Away

The holidays and family gatherings seem to present decision-making opportunities to parents like no other time. How do you protect Baby’s space, needs, and your ways of relating while you’re around family members who may not understand or may feel differently?

Two examples: crying-in-arms and not prop-sitting. Both of these provide ample territory for potential ridicule. Think ahead about what choices you’ll be confronted with so you’re not caught off-guard. Protect Baby’s needs as much as you’re able to; and when you’re not, plan on some recuperation time with Baby later when you’re alone. Find fun ways to explain what’s happening, like, if Baby turns away from someone, “Oh look, isn’t that cool, he knows when he’s taken in as much as his brain can process, smart kiddo! He’ll look back at you in a minute.”

Have wonderful holidays enjoying Baby AND family!

There's his invitation to engage! as I pay attention to my camera...

There’s his invitation to engage! as I pay attention to my camera…


Holiday Recuperation: Being with Baby

The week between Christmas and New Year’s, to me, is a turn-around time. Some things have finished and some haven’t yet started. It’s like a capillary bed, or “isoring”—the place in our blood vessels where arteries become veins, where our blood turns back to the heart. I experience it as a pause and an allowing of flow and shift, a time to let go and ride.

Lying together on the floor, couch, or bed offers more than a cozy cuddle.

This isoring space embodied—or, the last week in December—is a lovely time to “be” with yourself and your baby. If you celebrate the December holidays, the month may have been a time of heightened stimulation for Baby, whether or not it was for you. Here are some ideas about recuperating together.

Have a cuddle

This may seem obvious or cliché, but lying together on the floor, couch, or bed offers more than a cozy cuddle. Baby is ultra-connected to the vibe of her caregivers, especially Mama. The cells of our bodies resonate with each other, just as the strings on stringed instruments do. Babies “resonate” with their caregivers—it matters not just what we do, but how we do (be). If you need permission to do nothing: it’s worth granting yourself! Nothing is never really just nothing.

Join Baby on the floor

Rather than use propping devices, hang out together at whatever level Baby is naturally. This typically keeps Baby at a level that doesn’t ask more of her than she is able to do herself. It also allows her to choose between rest and activity; “recuperation,” really, is about this flow back and forth. Play together on your tummies or go on a crawling tour of the house! When you can spend some time there with her, it lets her know that you’re “with” her, that it’s okay to be where she is.

Baby Ball

Nope, not a new sport! Rather, curl Baby into a ball, with arms and legs tucked in and head in too (meaning, not extended or arching back). “Baby Ball” is good for all ages of baby/toddler/child. This bending-in, or flexion, heightens the body’s ability to balance and feel ‘centered’ (that is, if you like anatomy, strengthens the Parasympathetic Nervous System, as opposed to the Sympathetic sensory-motor). You can use Baby Ball during feeding, resting/sleeping, or holding.

Babies are self-healers

If all of Baby’s needs have been met and he’s not sick or injured—and he’s still fussy or crying—trust his instincts. One way that babies release stress, both emotionally and chemically (via tears), is crying. He may be working something through his system—better out than in! After an in-arms cry, babies will typically either sleep very well or stay awake in a very peaceful and non-‘needy’ state.

Set up cozy feeding places

Whether breast- or bottle-feeding, setting up a cozy space supports caregivers’ comfort and makes transitions easier. If you breastfeed, having your partner be the setter-upper is a great way for him/her to be involved. Create places on the floor, especially, throughout your home: include pillows, blankets, non-perishable healthy snacks for yourself, and water. Feeding while sitting on the floor or lying on your back or side may allow both of you to relax. And if you and/or Baby fall asleep–easy, you’re already on the floor!

One way to enjoy “Baby Ball”

During this isoring-week of December and beyond, I sincerely wish you heavenly, much-needed recuperating and isoring enjoyment!

© Eliza Parker 2011 & 2014, All Rights Reserved (Links are welcome)

Much of my work comes from Infant Developmental Movement Education®, part of the Body-Mind Centering® Approach to Somatic Education, and Dr. Aletha Solter’s Aware Parenting. I am a certified Infant Developmental Movement Educator®, Body-Mind Centering® Practitioner, Feldenkrais® Practitioner, and Spiritual Counselor.

Holiday Overstimulation: Let Baby Turn Away

Babies are wise! They are very communicative and able to self-regulate, but they need us to pay attention. The holidays can bring on much excitement and many emotions, both fun and challenging. Here are some tips to help Baby feel supported.

Follow Baby’s lead

There’s his invitation to engage! as I pay attention to my camera…

Allow her to call the shots. When she looks at you and engages with you—yay! Time to interact! When she looks away: follow this flow; be present and wait for her to turn back before continuing to interact.

When Baby turns away

This doesn’t necessarily mean rejection. It is Baby’s way of following his own internal wisdom and taking a break before he gets overstimulated. It’s his way of pausing, of saying “I need to allow my brain to process what I just experienced.” Remember, we’re on baby-sized timing!

Not all kids and grown-ups around you will be aware of this flow of Baby’s self-regulated attention. You may see them try to keep getting Baby’s attention, to get a smile or a laugh. We must consider, does this serve our need or Baby’s? It is our job to protect her need to turn away. This may be difficult when she is in someone else’s arms. Intervene if you can, but make sure she has flow time when she’s with you and she will learn how to negotiate relationships.

Why does it matter?

A baby’s nervous system is new and fresh. It has never met the world before. You and I have adult-sized brains to deal with adult-sized situations (which still are overwhelming to some of us)—and we have coping mechanisms as well. Put yourself in Baby’s experience—“what would this be like if I were experiencing it for the first time ever?” A baby who does not have a chance to turn away can learn to override his internal wisdom in order to please others. This can become habitual and have far-reaching effects on communication, relationships, peer pressure and drug abuse, and more.

What if overstimulation happens anyway?

Life is stimulating—there’s no avoiding it in today’s typical lifestyle. There may be situations beyond your ability to protect Baby’s need to turn away. In this case, some time will be needed later to release and heal. Allow Baby to cry if he needs to. When you get home and settle down, notice if he’s getting fussy or crying before sleep even when all his needs have been met. If he’s not sick or injured, this is likely a sign that he needs to release some stimulation or emotion. Be present and hold him while he does so.

We all need to “turn away” sometimes! Supporting Baby in doing this now will foster his ability to listen to himself and respect his own needs throughout life.

Eliza Parker is a certified Infant Developmental Movement Educator, Body-Mind Centering® Practitioner, Feldenkrais® Practitioner, and Spiritual Counselor.

© Elizabeth Parker 2011, All Rights Reserved

(Links are welcome. If you’d like to share my post in your blog or materials, please ask permission.)

Be On Baby’s Level (Why Tummy Time is for Grown-ups Too)

You know Tummy Time, or “floor time,” for babies? It’s really for grown-ups too!

I invite you to come down to Baby’s world and experience what she is doing. Get face to face on her level. What’s she currently doing? Tummy Time; or Side Time or Back Time? Yay! Enjoy lying down with her (give yourself permission if you need it). Belly

Hands-and-knees crawling? Explore together this angle on the world.

crawling? Give it a try and you’ll discover why this stage can be so challenging!

But of course you’ll be holding her some too when you’re standing. Sometimes, when you are already upright, try—if you don’t already—holding Baby up high enough so that she's face to face with you.

Truly, one of the best things we grown-ups can do for our babies is to bring ourselves down to their level. As a society, we tend to lovingly try to bring them up to ours—to prop them up in sitting or standing so they can be up higher and look around, for “up higher” is where all Baby’s loved ones are! They want to see what’s going on and be a part of it—right?

Yes and no. That desire to get up higher is part of Baby’s motivation to learn how, from his tummy or back on the floor, to incrementally raise his head, push up on his hands, roll and belly crawl to move in space, independently sit, come up to hands and knees, then pulling up and walking.

However, if he’s not doing it by himself already, then he’s gaining a lot of valuable experience by continuing to do whatever he’s already doing if he’s developing in a typical manner.

Coming down to Baby’s level gives us an inside glimpse of what it takes to learn“from scratch” how to move. We appreciate the mindstate of what Baby is doing. We  become a mirror to Baby’s process, and in doing so communicate that we see her and accept where she is—this lays a very important foundation forschool-learning later in life! We build relationship around “being” together, not just “doing” together. Find out if it’s relaxing; or if it’s hard work?; and enjoy this precious time with your Baby.

© Elizabeth Parker 2011, All Rights Reserved (Links are welcome. If you’d like to share my post in your blog or materials, please ask permission.)