Babies First Christmas, and avoiding over-stimulation

So with Xmas fast approaching, life with your new baby may well kick up a gear, babies first Christmas is a hugely special time for everyone! It is really hard to not try and tear yourself into 6 different pieces to try and please everybody.

Christmas with our children, especially that first Christmas, is hugely exciting! Heading out on a buying frenzy of toys and noisy “stuff”  is a right of passage for every parent and grandparent!

It can, however, be hugely overwhelming for babies, especially young babies under 3-6 months. This age group can be overstimulated merely by sitting in a room! If you think about the environment that a baby is born into compared to where it has lived for 9 months, the two couldn’t be more different!

The WOMB is:
 – which is why white noise (hoover, hair dryer) can pretty much instantly calm a very young baby
Moving– babies love movement, I am sure every pregnant woman quickly notices the moment she lays down to sleep, baby starts to move!
Dark – there is no visual stimulation for baby in the womb

When they arrive  into this sensory filled, noisy (but a different kind of noise), brightly lit world, it can all be too much for some babies…for a young baby simply being in a room with contrasting colours is a huge amount of stimulation…add to that human faces (which babies instinctively track) and for some it is a sensory overload!

Marketers will lead us to believe we need to buy rattles, noisy/scrunchy books, pushchair/cot mobiles, night lights, bouncers, rockers the list goes on…for some babies these can create a huge sensory over load. There are schools of thought now that colic can be attributed to over stimulation (see my blog on Colic).

Here are my top tips to avoid over stimulation this Xmas:

  • Look out for signs that baby has had enough, for very young babies (under 8/10wks) this can be as little as 30-40mins awake/play time. Signs that baby has had enough can be:

    • baby will start to turn their heads away from stimulation, or into mum

    • Rubbing their eyes and or yawning

    • Their movements can get jerky

    • Hiccups are also a sign of over stimulation. Trying to catch these signs early and helping baby switch off can be really beneficial.

  • You can't "spoil" a tiny baby by holding them too much. Tiny babies love movement (remember the womb), they are curled and fetal for the first 3-4 months, this position lends itself to being held and cradled…they will learn to lay on their backs to sleep slowly, it will come!

  • If you have a sensitive baby, don’t be tempted to use cot mobiles and night lights/sensory aids in the room at sleep time. Some babies find it really hard to switch off and this can be made harder with Winnie The Pooh flying over their head singing nursery rhymes. Mobiles do work for some babies, but certainly not for all!

  • Say ”no” to people… don’t be afraid to say no, we found ourselves one year doing 4 different houses in as many days over Xmas. It was tiring for us and unsettling for little one! Especially If you have a very new baby, say no, or ask them to come to you (and don’t worry about housework lol)

  • Don’t be fooled into thinking you need to spend £100s on babies first Xmas, I can guarantee they will be perfectly happy playing with wrapping paper and some card board tubes!! Open a savings account and ask people to donate to that instead!

  • Invest in a good sling (we have a wonderful new Sling Library in Guildford). Babies that don’t switch off easily don’t do brilliantly in a face out slings, as they can’t turn away from the stimulation easily.

  • Download some white noise and play whenever you need it!!

For more information or to book a 1:1 with Nicky visit Mummas and Beans