Every parent has seen it: the little scrunched up face, unconsolable crying, maybe hands lifted to the face and positioned in such a way as if to push you away.
Could your baby be overstimulated?
From the security of the womb, babies are thrust out into the chaos of modern life. Sure some babies have temperaments that make the stimulation even more difficult to process, but all babies can be overstimulated. Their little bodies and minds are not yet equipped to filter out the noise in their lives. They feel as if everything is coming crashing in to their little worlds.
So what else can they do but either withdraw or cry?
Signs Your Baby Is Overstimulated
- Does your baby cry excessively? Every baby cries sometimes, but a baby experiencing sensory overload can cry more than most. Check first that he isn't hungry, tired, or needing a diaper change.
- Withdrawal. If your baby is overstimulated, she can seem to withdraw from contact, not meeting your eyes or seeming to be interested in play.
- Sleeping more than normal. A baby who is overstimulated will sleep more than the amount of time she requires.
- Arching back and tensing up her body: This is how your baby shows you she is overstimulated.
- Hard to calm down. An overstimulated baby cannot handle the amount of sound and images before her, so trying to calm her in the usual ways may not work.
Why Is My Baby Overstimulated?
Even though a new baby is developed enough to be born, doesn’t mean he or she can handle things just the way we do. At birth several systems in the baby’s little body may not be completely developed. The baby’s nervous system, for example, is still immature. The connections between brain cells are still forming, and this means that even as they are starting to connect, the communication between nerves and brain may not be smooth yet. All of the sites and sounds around him will put your baby’s system into overload. The baby tries to shut down because he cannot handle the bombardment of stimuli he feels. This bombardment makes him uncomfortable, which is why he cries. His nervous system crashes, which is why he withdraws or sleeps.