Overstimulated Baby? Here's How To Soothe Them

Overstimulated Baby? Here's How To Soothe Them

Picture this — you woke up to your alarm clock rather than the sound of your small bundle wailing in their crib. You managed a quick morning workout, got organized, and even got your meal prep done for the week. 

What's more, your little one went down for their afternoon nap like a dream and was in an especially happy mood as you played all afternoon long. But now it's time for bedtime, and suddenly your great day has turned into an awful nightmare — your baby simply won't go to sleep. So what gives? 

From growth spurts and illness to hunger and sleep associations, several things can prevent your little buddy from summoning the sandman. But more often than not, a baby's struggle to snooze can be linked to too much stimuli. 

Interested in learning more? Little Yawn Collective has your back. Read on as we explore overstimulation in infants to uncover why it happens, how to prevent it, and more. 

Are you ready? Let's dive in!  

What Is Overstimulation?

Also known as sensory overload, overstimulation occurs when an individual experiences more stimulation, sensations, activity, or noise than their brain can cope with. 

Young babies are particularly susceptible to this condition because they have a much lower threshold for being overloaded than older kids or adults. These little ones come from a warm, cozy dark womb and are thrust into the bright, loud, and chaotic world.

What Are the Signs of Overstimulation?

On a biological level, when your tiny tot experiences too much stimuli, it can cause their little body to produce the "fight or flight" hormone known as cortisol. As this essential hormone rushes through the body, blood pressure and heart rate begin to rise. 

This is a stress response, and babies will communicate it by crying and fussing in addition to becoming especially difficult to soothe.

While inconsolable crying via a full-blown meltdown is a pretty good indicator of an overstimulated baby, there are some other signs to watch for, such as:

  • Refusing to eat
  • Hiccuping
  • Clenched fists
  • Cranky, unhappy behavior
  • Fast, erratic movements 
  • Agitated crying or shrieking
  • Wanting to be held
  • Acting scared
  • Sucking on hands or fists
  • Withdrawing from your touch
  • Glazed expression
  • Loss of eye contact

It's important to keep in mind that all babies are different, and therefore, signs of overstimulation may vary a bit from tot to tot. If your little buddy is displaying questionable signs or symptoms, be sure to speak with your pediatrician.  

What Causes Overstimulation in Babies?

When a baby is born, everything is new to them: every sight, touch, taste, smell, sound. Think about that for a moment — can you imagine how easy it would be for a person to be completely overwhelmed to exit a cocoon of darkness and have all five of their senses bombarded? 

Now, toss in the fact that a newborn doesn't have the slightest clue as to what they are sensing, and it's really no wonder why babies get overstimulated. Infants simply haven't yet developed their nervous system to the point where it can take in and effectively process a large range of stimuli. 

So, what causes overstimulation in babies? While every small bundle is different, some of the things that could overwhelm your tiny tot include:

  • Too much activity, interaction, or commotion
  • Disruption in routine
  • Certain medical conditions
  • Developmental milestones (ex: teething)
  • Overwhelming environment (ex: noisy, crowded, brightly lit, places)
  • Held for too long
  • Missed nap(s)
  • Exposure to new people

As you can see, there's a potential risk for a number of things to cause your little one to become overstimulated. However, as mentioned above, all babies are different — where one baby may find a certain object or sound soothing, another may find it overwhelming. 

How To Soothe an Overstimulated Baby

Now that you know what can easily overwhelm a little one, let's take a look at some of the ways you can calm an overstimulated baby, shall we? 

Cut the Noise and Turn Out the Lights

When your sweet pea is overstimulated and throwing a fit, anything other than white noise will likely contribute to overstimulation. Turn off the TV, quiet the radio and make the nursery as dark as possible to remind your infant of the comforts of the womb. 

To combat sunlight peeking through the blinds at naptime, consider using blackout curtains. 

Try a Snuggly Swaddle

If your sweet baby is overwhelmed, a snuggly swaddle may help. Swaddling applies steady pressure, mimicking the comfy-coziness of the womb in addition to dulling an infant's startle reflex (aka the Moro reflex), which some tots find especially soothing. 

Provide Space

Some little ones want to be held when they're overwhelmed, but many don't. In fact, more often than not, babies in the "purple crying phase" — which is somewhere between the ages of two weeks and four months — tend to resist touch because that's precisely what's overstimulating them. 

So, if your tiny tot seems to pull away from your touch, fusses when you try to cuddle, or turns their head from you, simply lay them down in a safe place such as their crib and sit nearby until they calm down. You can also spritz some of our pediatrician-approved Relaxing Pillow & Linen Spray into their room to promote further relaxation.

Masterfully crafted with natural ingredients, this dreamy sleep mist is infused with our signature NaturalSnooze fragrance featuring snoozy scents proven to create a peaceful environment that helps with falling asleep and staying asleep. 

For babies aged three months and older, simply spritz directly onto your little buddy's sheets or in their room before it's time to hit the hay, and you're good to go!     

Run a Warm Bath

If you're trying to calm an overstimulated infant, a warm, quiet bath just might do the trick. The warm water and gentle massage in the tub will soothe muscles that have become especially tense from all the fussing. 

Generally, a bath will start to relax your teary-eyed baby's crying and prepare them for sleep. 

To help make bath time extra relaxing for your precious babe, we recommend using our Soothing Shampoo & Body Wash with Calendula. Made with organic ingredients like Calendula extract and chamomile to care for sensitive skin, this calming duo isn't just clinically proven to be gentle, it's infused with our signature NaturalSnooze fragrance to induce good sleep — what's not to love?

How To Prevent Overstimulation in Babies

At the end of the day, the best way to combat overstimulation is to prevent your little one from becoming overstimulated in the first place. This, however, is often much easier said than done as sometimes it's not always possible to avoid the things that are overstimulating, such as running errands and growth spurts. 

That being said, here are a few things you can try to prevent your sweet pea from becoming overstimulated:

  • Keep errands as short as possible
  • Avoid screen time for kiddos under two (and limit screens for older toddlers)
  • Stick to a regular feeding schedule
  • Follow a consistent bedtime routine
  • Arrange for your little buddy to have some "quiet time"

In addition, it's important that you always watch for tired signs and act accordingly. If you miss your little one's sleep window, they can quickly become overtired and overstimulated, making it much more difficult to get them to fall asleep and stay asleep. 

Here are some common sleepy cues to watch for:

  • Eye rubbing or drooping
  • Fussiness
  • Irritability
  • Ear pulling
  • Clenched fists
  • Yawning
  • Fluttering eyelids

When you notice your tiny tot's sleepy cues, it's time to start the bedtime routine. 

A Final Word

From toys and sounds to people and places, there are a number of things that can cause babies to become overstimulated — even sights and smells can be too much for their small developing brains to handle. 

Thankfully, you can prepare for overstimulation by learning your little one’s signs when they get overwhelmed and knowing how to soothe them when they are overstimulated.

Here at Little Yawn Collective, we know how tough it can be dealing with an overstimulated baby — especially when it’s time for bed. 

Worry not, though parents, our line of snoozy pediatrician-approved essentials is here to help! 

From our Calming Probiotic & Organic Chamomile Sleep Drops to soothe fussy tummies to the most Nourishing Body Lotion with Oat & Shea Butter on the planet to cleanse delicate skin, you can always count on us to bring on the Zzzs.

Check us out today and make bedtime a breeze tomorrow. Trust us, you’ll be glad you did!     


Sources:

How to Help Your Overstimulated Baby Fall Asleep | WonderBaby.org

8 Tips to Help your Baby Sleep Through the Night | Sleep Association

Stress, Cortisol, and getting your baby to sleep | St. Louis Children's Hospital

Infant behavior cues | Children MN

Swaddling: Is it Safe? | HealthyChildren.org

Why to Avoid TV for Infants & Toddlers | HealthyChildren.org

How Can I Tell When My Baby Is Tired? | Cleveland Clinic

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