We usually don’t associate emotions such as stress with childhood, and certainly not as early as infancy. However, it turns out that we can completely unconsciously give our little one a sufficient dose of stress that will affect his development and functioning. What is infant stress? How does it manifest itself and how to prevent it?
How can you stress your baby?
Such a question, often with ironic overtones, is asked by many new parents. We aim to provide our baby with maximum comfort, we spend months choosing the most comfortable stroller, calming gadgets, rustling toys and massaging playmats, and then wonder what else a little person might need? But wait! … This little child doesn’t need all this at all. Furthermore, an excess of gadgets can be a serious source of stress for him. After all, for 9 months the only thing he or she experienced was soft, muffled sounds, darkness and little room for himself.
Immediately after birth, the child experiences many shocking stimuli from the environment. Once it was warm and dark, then suddenly it is cold and brightly lit; he is lifted, put back down, he hears voices that until now were completely foreign to him or were only muffled. So does he really need the carousel above the cot?
Symptoms of stress in an infant
The most obvious symptom of stress in a newborn baby is crying. Unfortunately, when the baby is born, parents are not given an individual instruction manual. We don’t know whether crying means colic, hunger, the need for intimacy or fear. So how do you know if this particular crying is a response to stress or other needs?
– Irregular breathing (accelerated or held)
– Change in skin colour (redness, livid marble, pallor)
– Increased or decreased muscle tone (also asymmetrical arrangement)
– Closing eyes
– Turning his head
– Frequent yawning, hiccups, posseting
– Increased physical activity, whining and finally crying
These are gradual, increasingly clear signals that the child sends in situations that are too difficult for him. If parents do not read them as information about being overwhelmed or stressed, there will be problems with sleep, feeding, dressing, bathing protest, changing diapers – these are alarm signals.
So what does your child need? A baby needs mum’s closeness to be happy. They need peace and regular routines of activity and bedtime.
No extreme is good
Before you throw away all the gadgets and install soundproofing panels in a baby’s bedroom, read these few important sentences. As you know, balancing at the extremes almost never works, neither for an adult nor a newborn. We should not live under stress, but also, we should not get rid of it completely from our everyday life (an unlikely event, even if we wanted to).
Psychology divides stress into distress (negative) and eustress (positive), i.e. one that helps us acquire new skills. If by some miracle, we eliminated all stressful factors that may appear in our child’s life, we would undoubtedly stop his development.
The problem arises when the stress is too intense and prolonged. Even positive stress that lasts too long can have negative effects. Remember this!