| 1.4°C Dublin

Pushy parents told to forget baby yoga lessons and just bond with junior instead





BABIES’ natural bonds with their mothers are being eroded as pushy parents attempt to fill children’s time with increasingly busy schedules, according to research.

The youngest children develop naturally by responding to human voices and touch, it is claimed.

But a new book says that parents are pushing them too fast at a young age by filling their days with classes in yoga, swimming, music and even salsa.

Singing lullabies is one of the best ways of forging close bonds between mothers and their babies, the study said, but many parents now reject the approach because it is no longer “cool”.

Sylvie Hétu, a childcare expert, said that the development was encouraged by health workers and nursery staff who constantly attempt to interfere in children’s lives from birth.

Writing in the book Too Much, Too Soon?, she said that babies now had “schedules that are as important as those of adults”.

“It is quite common that babies have a class every day,” she said. “Baby music, baby yoga, baby gym, baby singing, baby salsa, baby language, baby Einstein, baby sings and baby swim classes are very common nowadays.”

She adds: “Babies respond well to human voices, human faces and human touch, and they will naturally open themselves to the world… Babies need the calm presence of their parents, the day-to-day house sounds, and human being around them.

“That is the stimulation they need. They also need to be protected from too much stimulation.”

Mrs Hétu said that children responded well to the singing of traditional lullabies such as Baa Baa Black Sheep and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. “All cultures in the world have lullabies,” she said. “But this is the first generation of parents who do not routinely and intuitively sing to their babies.

“Singing used to be as natural as talking, and now it has become something that nobody wants to do because it is not ‘cool’ to do so, because we were told we don’t have a good voice, or simply because we have always listened to music and songs instead of producing them ourselves.”

Mrs Hétu is an expert in infant massage – a complementary treatment that is designed to lower children’s stress levels and help them concentrate – and a qualified Steiner school teacher.

In the book, she criticised the intervention of doctors and nurses during child birth.

“In several hospitals, the baby is taken, washed, is given some kind of vaccine with some kind of vitamins, weighed, and then given to the mother,” she said. “And we wonder whether this influences the baby?

“Up to the 1980s, the general view was that babies did not feel. We now know, however, that babies are extremely sensitive beings, so why don’t we give them the opportunity to enter the world gently?”

Other contributions to the book include:

*A study by Sally Goddard Blythe, director of the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology in Chester, that found that up to half of children are not ready for school at the age of five because of “sedentary lifestyles”;

*Research from Dr Aric Sigman, the author and biologist, that over-exposure to modern technology was having major negative impact on children’s development, warning that children should be kept away from all screen-based technology in the first few years of primary school;

*A report from David Elkind, an expert in child development at Tufts University in the US, that middle-class parents are treating play as a “luxury” that children can do without in favour of early academic education.