Editor's Note: Today's post comes from EmDo Co-Owner and experienced postpartum doula, Suzanne Lee. In addition to being a baby expert, Suzanne is a skilled New Parent Whisperer, too. She helps families across the Triangle build their skills and confidence in caring for their newborns, and today offers advice for new families navigating their first holiday season post-baby.
We've made it through Thanksgiving, and now it's the mad dash through the remaining holiday season! The holidays are a special time for us all, where we often gather together with family and friends to celebrate and enjoy each other's company. For those of you who are experiencing your first holiday season after welcoming a new baby, it also tends to be the first opportunity you'll have to introduce your little one to their extended family members!
Your family and friends will (understandably) be excited to spend these special times with your new baby. But, all the hustle and bustle of these gatherings can be overwhelming for your newborn, who's learning how to integrate these new experiences and sensory inputs as a brand new human!
The crowds, new voices, music, and lights can be energizing for you, but they can feel like "Disney On Steroids" for your baby. Understanding this fact and learning their Signs of Overstimulation, or SOS Signals, will help you comfort your baby as you move through the next few weeks. Plus, you'll be able to teach your family these signs, and get them involved too!
The world to an infant is big! bright! and noisy! When babies have had enough, they let us know! Here's how they tell us:
You may notice when Great Aunt Ellen is cuddling your sweet baby and talking to her that your baby moves her eye contact away from her direct line of sight. When that happens, your baby is signaling that she has had enough conversation. You can mention to your Great Aunt that it looks like baby is ready for some quiet time. Ask your Aunt to quietly cuddle her up, and rock or bounce her to sleep before she gets too fussy.
Changes in color or breathing, or jerky, muscular tremors
When boisterous Uncle Ed is singing to your little fellow and all of the sudden he (your baby, not Uncle Ed) gets red in the face, his hands start moving around in jerky motions and he's huffing and puffing as if he is about to start really wailing. Gently ask Uncle Ed to soften that song to a hum, hold your baby’s hands at midline, and sway or bounce until he calms down again. Then, tell Uncle Ed he’s a pro at baby soothing!
Let's say, you are in the nursery with Grandma (who is politely, but not discreetly hovering in the background), and while changing your baby’s diaper she moves into a fencer reflex. This reminds you that your baby hasn’t slept for a while. Swaddle her up, and ask Grandma if she would like to rock your little one off to sleep. Then, you can go enjoy some time visiting with your family, or you can sneak off to your bedroom and check Facebook or just do whatever you want in that time for yourself.
Knowing these signs of overstimulation can help you interpret your baby’s needs and help keep them as content and happy as you all can be through this holiday season. Plus! You will look like Pro Parents you are becoming, for sharing this information about your baby with them as well!