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NAN: Infants and Overstimulation

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When an infant has too many options or his environment is too busy he may be overstimulated. Overstimulation can occur when a baby is exposed to more stimulation then he can cope with. Stimulation can include sensations, experiences, noise and activity. Since each child is unique and has his own temperament, some infants can handle more stimulation than others. For example, some babies may enjoy being passed around to relatives at a family gathering, while other babies will have no tolerance for it. The voices, scents, embraces, clothing textures and noise can just be too much for some infants. 

If an infant appears agitated, is waving his hands or kicking his legs as a sign of irritation or in an attempt to push you away, if an infant looks away from you or closes his eyes in an attempt to sleep, or if he starts to cry or fuss when you try to get his attention, he may be over stimulated. 

If an infant seems overwhelmed, nannies should take the baby to a quiet place where he can calm down. Swaddling an infant, placing an infant in a stroller and pulling the canopy down or placing a swaddled infant on his back in his crib in a dim room can reduce stimulation and may help the infant to calm.  

While most infants will be overstimulated at one time or another, nannies can strive to prevent overstimulation by rotating toys rather than having an overwhelming number of toys out at once, providing adequate down time, establishing healthy sleep habits and recognizing the early signs of over stimulation and taking steps to reduce it. 

Michelle LaRoweNAN: Infants and Overstimulation