Do babies get bored? This might seem like such a silly question. In their first few months of life, babies are just adorable little lumps. They can't see clearly. They can barely manage to wiggle around. And they just emerged from a small dark space. Do they really require a lot of stimulation?
It may surprise parents to find out that the first few months of a baby's life bring rapid brain development and boredom can impact their growth. That is, if they are experiencing the wrong type of boredom.
Can Babies Get Bored?
Yes! Every human being has the capacity to get bored. This means that the person has either gotten the most out of the present activity or that the task is too complex for them to understand.
While newborns tend to be less aware of their surroundings, a baby's eyesight becomes more clear around the two to three-month mark, which is when they begin to take in the world. This makes engaging activities an important part of their daily routine. But can babies as young as two months old experience these feelings?
What Age Does It Start? Do 2-Month-Old Babies Get Bored?
Researchers have found that as early as seven months of age, babies can distinguish between activities of interest and pursuits that they find less than appealing. This is their way of prioritizing learning opportunities. However, that is not to say that a younger baby, even a 2-month-old, cannot experience moments of boredom as well. Every baby is unique - and while by seven months the boredom can be more obvious, younger babies may experience boredom too.
When left in a crib with no stimulation, an infant will also show signs of apathy. In fact, there are state laws in place at daycare and childcare centers that ensure that children in this early age range get the proper amount of stimulation. For instance, in Texas, the law states that after waking, an infant must be removed from their crib within 30 minutes.
How to Tell if a Baby Is Bored
Just like with older kids and adults, boredom in babies is normally accompanied by:
- Looking in other directions
- General fussiness
- Grasping towards you or other objects nearby
- Jerky movements
In contrast, a baby who is excited will smile, laugh, and keep their focus on the activity at hand. Parents will also notice that their baby's movements are smooth throughout engaging interactions.
Is Boredom Bad for Babies?
During the first year of your child's life, their cognitive development is a huge priority. As a parent, your job is to help your child to explore, learn, and grow. So does that make boredom a bad thing? Not all the time.
Constructive Boredom Can Be Beneficial
If your baby is stuck in a confined space - such as a crib, swing, seat, or play pen - with no ability to play or investigate items in their environment, it is going to hinder their development. This type of boredom isn't helpful to their growth. However, constructive boredom can be extremely beneficial.
Constructive boredom refers to unstructured opportunities for creativity. This requires materials, but not direction. For example, if you give your kid two toy cars, they may race them or they may engage in pretend play where one car is a phone, and the other is a remote.
The ability to play in unique ways is actually how language learning occurs, making these magical moments for growth!
Use Baby's Boredom to Build Independence and Stimulate Creativity
Boredom isn't always a bad thing, but if you find your baby seems less than stimulated, there are a few things that you can switch up to get them more engaged and reduce instances of apathy!
Change Their Scenery
For those of us who have had the displeasure of working in a confined cubicle, you're abundantly aware of how much your environment can foster or stifle your creativity. If your baby seems bored with everything, move your play times to different spaces around your home and community.
Increase the Contrast
For younger infants, they may seem bored because they can't decipher what is right in front of them! Things like high contrast toys and toys with tags can be great choices that stand out more clearly.
Decrease the Number of Toys
Too much of everything can be a bad thing. If your baby has 50 toys to choose from, it can be hard for their little minds to process what they want, making it more likely that they will not play at all. Instead, give them three to five options and swap out their toy selection for each play time.
Spread the Toy Choices Around the Room
For infants working on their mobility, spread their toys around the room. This creates the need for decision making and movement, which can lead to new discoveries along the way.
Engage Their Senses
Babies explore the world with their senses, so give them colorful, textured toys that make sounds! This will increase their fascination with the objects and lessen the instance of boredom.
Change Up Baby's Routine
If you did the exact same thing, in the exact same order every single day, you would get bored pretty too. Make sure that your baby's schedule has a little excitement by trying out new and fun activities for babies!
Give Your Baby Some Space When Boredom Sets In
Your ultimate goal as a parent is to raise a capable and independent person! In order to do this, you need to give them the opportunity to try to figure things out on their own. If you are always on standby with a new toy or exciting activity, they will never have the chance to get bored and find ways to keep themselves entertained.
If they do become unenthused with an activity, give them a chance to change course before intervening with a new task. By providing them with the right tools, they have chances to get creative and engage in pretend play when boredom hits - and you'll be well on your way to raising a happy baby and child!