Yesterday I had the honor of holding a three-month old baby (pictured above) while her mother and I visited in a coffee shop. Such a pleasure! She is at the age for big smiles and it wasn’t long before she and I were smiling away. But then she caught sight of her mom’s face across the table. I could sense the difference in her attention immediately. That is the face she concentrated on from that moment on. But it was interesting (fascinating, actually) to observe what came next.
Over and over again, she stared at her mother’s beloved face for about 5 to 7 seconds, then still smiling, averted her gaze and looked down. Ten seconds later her head bobbed up again to look for her mom’s face.
To this baby her mother’s face was so stimulating that she could only handle the gaze for a few seconds. Then she would look away so she could compose herself again and avoid getting over-stimulated.
There are so many ways a baby’s environment can become over-stimulating. Bouncing, being held overhead, being handed from person to person, being awake too long between naps - to name just a few. In a minute baby will become fussy, start to cry, arch the back which are all symptoms that the world is just to much right now. At the coffee shop, her mother stayed where she was without trying to catch baby’s attention back and I kept still as well. She was free to “dose” herself by looking at her mom many times in a row until it was time for her to stop. We just observed.
When a baby does get over-stimulated you can help by moving to a darkened room, holding her/him calmly, moving gently and perhaps by putting baby to bed (even if still crying). These are all ways parents can help their over-stimulated baby calm down. Letting her “have a good cry” before she puts herself to sleep is a great way for a baby to calm herself down.
As always, feel free to take advantage of Kitty’s parenting expertise by booking your first conversation today and taking your first step to peaceful parenting and quieter nights.