It can be quite a trauma, a heartbreaking experience, for parents to see their babies under stress. To make it even worse, most infants are not able to express themselves or the factors that cause stress. As a result, stress among babies often goes unnoticed and untreated.
What causes stress in babies?
Stress among toddlers can be an outcome of the following:
1. Lack of attention and love
Babies love the attention of their loved ones. They enjoy being pampered and loved. However, when they are devoid of the attention and love, they tend to get fussy and cranky. Many babies find it difficult to cope with the feeling of being neglected and unattended. Some, if not all, babies cry to attract the lost attention.
2. A negative environment around the baby
A lot of baby stress may result from the negativity that surrounds them. Parents or loved ones fighting, crying, shouting or hurling abuses at each other may affect and stress out a baby immensely.
3. Physical uneasiness or discomfort
This is probably the most common cause of baby stress. The trigger can be anything from a body ache, hunger, stomach ache and feeling extremely hot or cold to lack of sleep. Unable to explain the cause of their discomfort, the baby gets stressed out.
4. Missing their loved ones
In few cases, babies who do not get to see their parents (especially mother) for a long time, get cranky and agitated. They miss the warmth, the presence of known faces. They feel scared and vulnerable.
5. Center of attraction
They want to be loved by all those around them. Some babies are made to behave in this manner by their parents. In doing so, knowingly or unknowingly, the parents themselves end up stressing the baby.
6. Not feeding the baby when hungry
Keeping the baby hungry for a long time can stress your baby.
Signs and symptoms of baby stress
Parents need to be a little alert and careful. See if there are any signs and symptoms of stress in your baby. A stressed out baby may show one or more of the following symptoms.
1. The baby cries incessantly.
2. The baby gets cranky, with altered sleeping habits
3. Altered bowel habits and movements
4. The baby wakes up crying due to insecurity or scary dreams
5. A body or stomach pain
6. The baby refuses to eat food
7. Unusual body movements and coughs
8. Repeatedly sucking the thumb or even chewing the hairThe baby does not allow the loved ones, especially the mother to leave their sight, even for a second
9. The baby does not allow the loved ones, especially the mother to leave their sight, even for a second
Tips to manage stress in infants
As serious as it may appear, stress in infants is not a very big issue. The underlying cause, once identified, can speed up the treatment and stress management. However, parents need to be careful and have a little patience.
1. In the case of any unusual behaviour shown by your baby, consult the attending paediatrician at the earliest. They can understand your child's unusual behaviour better.
2. As parents, it is important to spend as much time as possible with your baby. You can take turns and babysit. Do not leave your baby with unfamiliar faces for a long time.
3. Feed the baby only when hungry. Neither feed them forcefully nor keep them hungry for long. Do not alter their eating pattern.
4. The environment around the baby should be as happy and cheerful as possible. Avoid fights and physical violence near the baby. Keep the atmosphere in the house healthy and positive.
5. Let your baby react and behave naturally. There is a certain innocence in every baby. Do not try to alter that innocence. They are too small for that.
6. In the case of working parents, go on evening or morning strolls with your baby whenever possible.
7. Encourage and appreciate your baby.