Your new-born has emerged from the most calming sensory environment – the womb world. In our busy world, the smells, bright lights and colours, varied sounds and light tactile stimulation make your little baby very susceptible to overstimulation. When overstimulated your new-born will start to grimace, fuss and cry.
If your baby continues to be over stimulated by sensory input, you may find that the crying exacerbates and may result in ‘colic’ – more than three hours of crying at a stretch – usually in the early evening.
The first social-emotional task of infancy is to be able to tolerate stimulation, to calm when spoken to and in time, enjoy interaction with familiar people. There are simple ways to nurture your new-born to encourage her to be calm:
- Sleep helps to settle the sensory systems and regular sleeps can really help your little one to be calmer and enjoy social interaction more. New-borns need to be put to sleep after only 45 minutes of awake time.
- Hands to midline is very soothing for little ones and helps your baby to stay calmer. When you hold your baby to look into her eyes and talk to her, hold her in a position with her hands towards her chest or neck. This will help her stay calm to focus on your voice and face.
- Swaddling mimics the deep pressure of the womb space and inhibits the primitive reflexes that may cause your baby’s hands to move away from midline.
- In the evening when your baby is more likely to be overstimulated, decrease stimulation interactions and have less eye contact. This will decrease the chance of fussing in the evening.
- When your baby is crying, enter the room and gently say her name so she knows you are coming. In time she will learn to settle just by hearing your voice. “Sarah, mommy is here darling.”
Staying calm with stimulation is a critical first social milestone and one you can encourage with these tips.