Alertness levels change throughout the day. Sometimes we are drowsy and sometimes we are active. When adults are drowsy during the day, they are likely to move around or drink caffeinated beverages to "perk up", whereas when adults are drowsy late at night, they go to bed. Babies also change from being drowsy to active. Yet, they are dependent upon parents and caregivers to know when to put them down for a nap, or when to change the surroundings or their interactions to better help the baby "perk up" or calm down. Babies give us signals that they are tired such as rubbing their eyes, fussing, or sucking their fingers. They also give us signals that they are over-stimulated and may need us to help calm them down. Below is a list of behaviors a baby may exhibit when over-stimulated. However, these symptoms may also occur at other times and do not always mean the baby is over-stimulated, requiring the adult to analyze each particular instance.
SIGNS OF OVER-STIMULATION FROM AN INFANT:
-Hiccups, sneezing, yawning, gagging, or spitting up
-Frowning, grunting, or grimacing the face
-Squirming, arching back, pushing self away, turning head away, or gazing away
-Disorganized movements with limbs and/or tongue thrusting
-Zoning out due to "shutdown" or suddenly falling asleep even in a noisy environment
-Crying inconsolably which may or may not stop when noise lessens, the baby moves locations, or is held tightly
-Changes to vital signs: breathing irregularly, panting, fast heart beat, sweating, color change (flushing or paleness)
AUDITORY (Hearing): VISUAL:
Many babies could benefit from strategies that alert them or "get their engines started" such as those who tend to fall asleep during a feed or those who under-respond to sensory input. The following are strategies within each of the sensory systems that may help your baby to be more alert and "perk up". However, each baby is an individual and what works for one baby may not for another. Be careful to not over-stimulate the baby which may then lead to fussing and crying.
TASTE & ORAL MOTOR: