There is nothing a parent hates more than not being able to comfort your crying baby. Babies cry for many reasons and most of them are easy to decipher like hunger or needing a diaper change. Sometimes, however, it feels like nothing is working to calm your baby. Often times when this happens it is because your baby is overstimulated.
First, lets talk about the signs that your baby may be overstimulated.
One of the first signs is your baby rubbing their eyes or trying to cover their face with their hands. This is their way of trying to “shut out” their environment. Next you may also notice them turning their heads away from you, or trying to squirm out of your arms. This is an attempt for them to try to escape from the stimulation that is overtaking them. As a last resort your baby may stiffen up (sometimes arching their back) and become very fussy.
Being aware of your babies cues will help you to recognize that they are staring the process of over-stimulation.
Even if they are at the crying/fussy stage, there are ways to help sooth your baby. As a postpartum doula, I often help new parents understand the cues and offer guidance on how to help an overstimulated baby. I have highlighted my favorite tricks to help sooth an overstimulated baby below!
One of the first things you need to do is remove your baby from the environment that is overstimulating them. If there is a lot of noise and activity going on around your baby it will be hard for them to settle their mind and body. You can start by moving into a bedroom or another room that is dimly lit and quiet. Often times their nursery is a great place for this. If you are out in public, a blanket over their car seat or stroller, or an inward facing baby carrier is your best bet to help muffle the noise and light.
Babies are soothed by gentle movement. If you have retreated to their nursery then a rocking chair will do the trick. A swing or slow dancing in a baby carrier is also a great way to incorporate movement.
Most babies enjoy the comfort and security of a tight swaddle. There are many ways to swaddle a baby and even swaddling with their hands up near their face is a good option if your baby likes to suck on their fingers. The swaddle reminds them of the womb and offers resistance to their movements in a way that is comforting without adding more stimulation to their already frazzled system.
Shushing or White Noise
White noise helps your baby drift out of the over-stimulation cycle by reminding them of the gentle noise they heard in the womb. If you don’t have a white noise machine then making a shushing noise, turning on a vacuum cleaner, fan, or washing machine, or you can download a white noise app on your smartphone.
Do you have any tricks for helping an overstimulated baby? I would love to hear them in the comments section.