“We are as prepared as I think you can be.” is a common phrase you hear from expectant parents. Unfortunately, even with classes aimed at new or expectant parents, there is a multitude of things that most people only find out about once they happen. One of those unexpected gems is the phenomenon of overstimulation. Below you will find general information on overstimulation as well as techniques to help your newborn should they become overstimulated.
What is Overstimulation?
Sometimes referred to as sensory overload, overstimulation occurs when a person experiences more noise, stimulation, or sensations than their brain can process at any one time. Newborns are particularly susceptible to this condition because they have a much lower threshold for being overloaded than older children or adults. However, make no mistake that this is something that can continue to be an issue for kids as they grow. Therefore, it is wise to know what to look for and how to help your baby work through it.
How Can You Tell if Your Baby is Overstimulated?
One of the difficulties with determining if your child is overstimulated is that many of the signs are subtle or could be mistaken for something else. However, in combination with the understanding of how a newborn becomes overstimulated, it becomes much easier to spot it when it happens. Typical indicators of an overstimulated newborn include being Inconsolable, turning away from a person when being held, screaming and crying uncontrollably, and jerky movements. For a complete list, Ergo Baby has an excellent article on how to tell if your baby is overstimulated.
Calming and Comforting
So your baby is overstimulated, what do you do next? Well, one of the most effective ways to help a baby in this state is to remove the stimulation. Find or create a quiet, dark space that provides them the ability to relax and return to a normal state of being. It is okay to use a sound machine or white noise to block out other forms of audible stimulation. Your baby may also appreciate some calming snuggles from a parent or some time to nurse if the baby is breastfed. Swaddling is another wonderful technique to help soothe and comfort them.