When your baby starts crying inconsolably and there is no obvious reason for his tears, like hunger, a dirty nappy or feeling sick, he might be overstimulated. “Every baby’s cry is individual and you will quickly learn to interpret your baby’s overstimulated cry,” say authors Megan Faure and Ann Richardson in their international best-seller, Baby Sense.
“In a young baby an overstimulated cry is accompanied by pulling up of legs, blueness around the mouth and bringing his hands towards his face and mouth as he attemps to self-soothe. In an older baby, fractious niggling accompanied by tugging his ears and pushing away toys or food may indicate that he is overstimulated.”
Try these 10 strategies to soothe your overstimulated baby:
- Sway your baby from side to side in your arms, or put him in a baby swing – babies are often comforted by movement.
- If your baby has been in a crowded environment, remove him from the setting and find a quiet, dimly-lit room so that his nervous system can have a chance to calm down.
- Position your baby so that he has only a few things to look at in the room (even a blank white wall will do the trick), and gently rock him to soothe him.
- Make rhythmic sounds while rocking him. A gentle shhhing noise is usually very effective, as it sounds similar to the noise he heard while he was in the womb.
- If your little one likes water, give him a warm bath to calm him down.
- Swaddle your baby in a warm blanket, but if he doesn’t like to be swaddled, place him in a sling, so that he can be close to you.
- Give your baby a massage. This will relax him and it may help him to fall asleep.
- If your baby is soothed by soft lullabies, sing to him. Soft noise can also go a long way to soothing an overstimulated baby. Put a fan on in the background or download a white noise soundtrack to get your baby to calm down.
- Remember to keep his room calm and neutral. If he’s overstimulated easily, avoid bright colours and hanging mobiles in the space where he sleeps.
- If all else fails, take your baby for a ride in his car seat. You’ll be surprised how quickly he’ll calm down and fall asleep.