Stimulation is a tricky balance to strike for your baby. If you don’t give them enough, they can get fussy and lose out on developmental benefits. If you give them too much, they can get upset and you can wind up with the same problem.
When your baby is fed and rested, but still fussy
Sometimes your baby is fussy because they are looking for more stimulation, not less. If they calm down after you engage them, they may have just been looking for something new.
- Try walking your baby around, facing them forward while you talk to them. Show them things around the house, turning the lights and water on and off, and opening and closing cupboards and doors. Explain what you’re doing—your baby is processing what you say even if they don’t seem to be listening 🙃
- Put your baby on their back under a mobile. Gently spin it to see if the motion captures their interest.
- Make new sounds in your baby’s line of sight. You can tap on a window, shake a key ring, or rub a spatula, wooden spoon, or metal utensil inside a metal bow.
- Talk or sing to your baby face to face. These lyrics may help.
Signs of overstimulation
If your baby becomes more fussy when you walk them around and engage with them, they might be telling you they’re overstimulated. Signs of overstimulation include repeatedly turning their head away from something (a plaything or a person), arching their back, not tolerating being put down, or refusing to nurse or take a bottle.
4 scenarios that may overwhelm your baby
Here are some situations that may present more stimulation than your baby can handle:
- The environment is excessively noisy, crowded, bright, or colorful.
- Your baby is being bounced or jiggled too much.
- They are being held by lots of different people and looking at many different faces in a social setting.
- They’re overtired. Overstimulation can lead to poor sleep, but the opposite is true as well. When your baby is overtired, a small amount of noise or light may be enough to overwhelm them.
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