Christmas is a fun time of year, especially with a little baby. But with all of the excitement, and relatives fawning over the baby, it’s easy for babies to become overstimulated. Here are a few easy tips for recognizing when baby is overstimulated and helping them calm down.
You’ve had a fun day visiting with the relatives, and everyone has enjoyed gushing over the new baby. The little one has probably been held by a lot of new people, been surrounded by bright colorful lights and maybe even lots of noise. Now it’s evening, the baby has hardly slept all day, and s/he is crying uncontrollably and can’t seem to be soothed. S/he might even have developed a case of the hiccups.
This kind of overstimulation is generally rare, because most babies will just fall asleep when they start to get too much input. During the holidays though, all of the commotion makes baby much more vulnerable. So what do you do if baby has reached that point and you just can’t get him/her to sleep?
Find a dimly lit, quiet place. Move away from the commotion to a darker room. This takes the baby out of the stimulation and gives the little one’s nervous system a chance to start calming down.
Find a spot in the room with little to look at. If you can find a blank white wall, that is the best.
Position the baby so that s/he is looking at the blank wall. Then, either rock the baby, or sway baby back and forth in your arms in a gentle rocking motion. If you have a way you usually move the baby to sooth him/her use this motion as it is familiar and will be the most soothing.
Make a gentle, rhythmic shhhing noise to the baby. This is especially effective for young babies as it sounds similar to the noises they heard in the womb.
It will take some persistence, but you will gradually start to see baby’s body relax.
If baby is squirmy and this isn’t working, lay him/her down in your arms so that s/he is looking at you and his/her head is next to the inside of your elbow. Swing your upper body (with baby) around gently back and forth (rather like you are doing a twisting exercise). Start fairly quickly, as though you are playing with the baby, and then gradually get slower until the baby nods off. The back and forth motion gives them enough stimulation to help them go from a highly stimulated state to a relaxed calm state.
Once baby has calmed down, make sure s/he is sound asleep before you put him/her down. A good way to check is to make sure that his/her arms are floppy. By this I mean that when you lift baby’s arm the wrist is floppy, the arm is relaxed, and baby doesn’t stir. If you put him/her down to quickly they will pop back up.
Although these methods will take a little time, they will ensure that baby gets to sleep and will give you a chance to get a good night’s sleep, or a nice little break. Baby will feel better after awakening. Over stimulation can become painful for the baby, but with these tools you can soothe baby right down. You’ll look like a baby whisperer!