7 Ways To Soothe Your Overstimulated Baby

Picture of Robyn Rosenblum, MD, FAAP

Medically reviewed by Robyn Rosenblum, MD, FAAP

overstimulated babies

From too much noise to an interruption in their routine, many factors can cause your little one to become overwhelmed, leaving you with a crying, overstimulated baby on your hands.

In this article, we’ll discuss why your baby may be overstimulated, the signs to watch for, and how to soothe your little one. As you’re reading, keep in mind that some babies get more easily overstimulated than others.

Let’s start by looking at reasons why your baby may be exhibiting signs of overstimulation.

Table Of Contents

Why Is Your Baby Overstimulated?

 overstimulated baby

Believe it or not, it doesn’t take much for your baby to get overstimulated, especially when they are a newborn. It may seem hard to believe when they’re just a tiny bundle of joy, but several factors can contribute to overstimulation. Let’s take a look.

Environmental Factors

Babies can become overwhelmed when their environment is noisy, crowded, or brightly lit. This is common in public places, but home environments can be overwhelming as well with siblings running crazy or a loud television blaring in the background.

The temperature in your environment can also play a role in your baby’s overstimulation. As a rule of thumb, your little one is the safest and most comfortable when the room temperature is between 68 and 72 degrees.

Sensory Overload

While loud noises and busy environments can be hard on your little one, introducing a new toy that makes noise causes new sensations in your baby’s growing brain, too. This can be overwhelming for your little one.

You may love to spoil your baby with new flashy toys, and that’s OK. Just make sure to take some breaks and switch up your playtime with quieter activities.

A Disturbance In Your Baby’s Routine

There are many reasons for a disruption in your routine. Life happens. Maybe you have family visiting and there are several activities planned. Or maybe you’re traveling for the day.

These schedule disruptions could mean your baby skips a nap or goes to bed late and ends up overtired, which can quickly overwhelm them. Babies are creatures of habit, and changes in their schedule (in addition to the lack of sleep!) can make them crabby.

Meeting New People

Everyone loves meeting a new baby. But being passed from person to person can be overwhelming for both you and your little one.

Some babies enjoy meeting new people, but for others, it can be overstimulating. New faces, unfamiliar voices, and strange smells can be a lot for them to handle.

To help with this, when you’re in a group of new faces, pay attention to your baby’s cues and try to space out the introductions.

Teething

It’s no surprise: Teething can be irritating and make your baby less tolerant of other stimuli. If your little one is exhibiting signs of overwhelm, a quick peek at their gums may help you determine if they have a new tooth breaking through.

Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions, like autism, can also cause a more sensitive sensory system. With this condition, outside stimuli (think: sights, sounds, touch, and smells) can more easily overstimulate your baby.

In addition, if your baby is sick in general, they may be more prone to overstimulation.

Signs Of An Overstimulated Baby

an overstimulated baby

Now that we’ve discussed reasons why you may have an overstimulated baby, let’s talk about some common signs to watch out for.

Keep in mind that not all babies are the same, so the better you can identify when your little one is starting to become overstimulated, the better you can ease them back into comfort.

Common signs of an overstimulated baby often include:

  • Crying more (or louder) than usual
  • A lot of squirming or frantic movements
  • Covering their face or rubbing their eyes
  • Acting scared
  • Wanting to be held
  • Fist-clenching

Here are some less obvious signs that your baby may be overstimulated:

  • Self-soothing, such as sucking on their hands or fists
  • Wanting to nurse more frequently
  • Acting overly tired

Learning these signs can help you step in to keep your baby calm.

7 Ways To Soothe Your Overstimulated Baby

An overstimulated baby being soothed after a bath

1) Take Them Away From The Overwhelming Situation

This may seem obvious, but the quickest and easiest thing to do if you notice your baby is overstimulated is to remove them from the situation or room. Take them somewhere quieter and darker, such as their stroller, car seat, nursery, or any dimly lit space.

If you have a toddler or an older child and can’t remove them from the situation, find ways to reduce the noise and activity in the room.

For example, you may want to try turning off the TV or music, dimming the lights, or closing the window shades. You can also offer calming activities, like reading a book or playing with a quiet toy.

2) Swaddle Them

Swaddling provides comfort for most babies and can be an effective calming technique when you remove them from an overwhelming situation. Because swaddling mimics the comfort of the womb, your baby’s startle reflex decreases, resulting in a soothing effect.

If you think this method may work for your little one, try our Organic Swaddle Blankets to ensure a safe and comforting hold.

3) Breastfeed Or Give Your Baby A Bottle

Breastfeeding can comfort your little one, promote positivity, and provide maternal sensitivity and care. Feeding your baby can also lull them into a restful sleep.

4) Ensure Their Physical Needs Are Being Met

You should always make sure that your baby’s basic physical needs are being met before trying anything else to calm them down. For example, make sure they aren’t hungry or thirsty. And check if they are too hot or cold so you can adjust accordingly.

If it’s cold, you can place a warm cloth on the back of their neck. On the other hand, if the room is warm, step outside to enjoy the fresh air or remove a layer of their clothing.

5) Soothe Your Baby With White Noise

Playing soft music or turning on a white noise machine is another great option for calming down your baby. Remember the goal is to minimize the external noise and stimulation here, so make sure the music or white noise isn’t too loud.

6) Hold Your Baby

This is where you put what you know about your baby and their cues into action. Some babies constantly want to be held, while others do not.

Typically, between two weeks and four months, your little one may resist being held when they’re overstimulated because being touched may be the reason they are feeling that way in the first place.

That being said, you know your baby best, so go with your instinct here.

7) Speak In A Quiet Voice

If your baby is crying, you may be tempted to speak louder. This can make matters worse in an already chaotic moment.

Instead of raising your voice, bring your baby close and speak in calm, reassuring tones.

How To Avoid Overstimulation In Babies

Mom entertaining her baby

If you notice signs that you have an overstimulated baby, take a look around the room and note everything that is happening.

The best thing you can do is learn what overstimulates your little one. Then, you can either avoid situations that trigger them, plan ahead, or quickly remove them when they show signs of being overstimulated.

Some tactics to help your baby avoid becoming overstimulated in the future include:

  • Keeping visits, outings, and events short
  • Scheduling breaks for your little one when you do take them on visits or out in public
  • Sticking to your routine as much as possible
  • Limiting their screen time
  • Reaching out for help if you need tips on how to cope with overstimulation or if you feel your baby’s actions aren’t typical

When To See A Doctor

It’s normal for your baby to get overstimulated at times. However, if you notice your little one is frequently upset, you may want to speak with a pediatrician. There may be underlying sensory issues, such as autism.

Check in with your doctor if:

  • Your child’s behavior interrupts everyday routines
  • Your child is having trouble standing or moving
  • You can’t manage your child’s reactions on your own

Make sure to bring up any concerns at your child’s well visits. Their doctor will be able to monitor their development and behavior over time.

Keeping Your Baby Healthy And Happy

Mom holding baby

When you have an overstimulated baby, it can be difficult for both of you. Your little one may have meltdowns, reduced sleep, and interrupted feedings.

But remember: Overstimulation in babies is normal, and every baby reacts differently. Learning your baby’s cues, being aware of their environment, and implementing the tips we mentioned above can decrease the chances of your baby getting overwhelmed.

For even more comfort to help your little one sleep, put them to bed on a Newton Baby Crib Mattress or Waterproof Mattress. Made of 100% breathable material and just the right amount of firmness, our mattresses can give your baby the best rest possible.

Here’s to the best tools for parenthood!