Signs of overstimulation in infants and toddlers
And how to calm down kids of all ages
Juice Staff Published: 5/16/2018
Whether you are a seasoned parent or new to the game, it’s important to know the signs of overstimulation in your child. Babies go from the cozy, quiet womb out into the big, loud world — it can be a lot for a baby to take in. Here are some tips from Vicki Tierney, an occupational therapist with Wolfson Children’s Hospital.
The best thing you can do to avoid overstimulating your infant is to stick to a predictable routine. While you might be ready to hit the town, head to lunch with friends, or do some shopping at Target, all of that activity could overstimulate your little one. When you do have baby in tow during errands, watch for signs that your baby has had enough and be prepared to cut the outing short should your baby be inconsolable.
- If your newborn is overstimulated, you may see them:
- Appear limp with glassy eyes
- Change colors and become red or splotchy
- Cover their eyes or face
- Cry excessively
- Turn their head away
- Wave or kick arms and legs in an agitated way
- Yawn or hiccup excessively
When you see these signs of stress from your newborn, don’t fret. There are several tried-and-true techniques to soothe your baby. Start by addressing any needs, like feeding or changing their diaper.
- Always check to see if your baby needs a clean diaper, a burp, or just a new position.
- Reduce visual, auditory and social stimulation. Dim the lights and move to a quieter place.
- Provide white noise such as the sound of a running dishwasher, a fan or easy listening music.
- Offer their hand or pacifier to their mouth to suck.
- Swaddle your baby in a blanket firmly, but not too tightly.
- Properly secure your baby in their car seat and take them for a drive.
When you see signs of overstimulation from your toddler, try to remove them from the situation, provide noise-reducing headphones or find a relaxing activity to focus on. It could just be time for a nap!
- If your toddler is overstimulated, you may see them:
- Become angry or irritable with touching or holding
- Become unreasonably cranky and irritable
- Cry and become unable to use words to describe feelings
- Refuse to be consoled
- Throw a temper tantrum
Calming a baby or toddler can be trying, even for the best of parents, and the process require a lot of trial and error. Experiment with some of these tips and see what works for you and your little one.