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What is a Baby Meltdown and how to manage such a situation?

Babies getting cranky, fussy, or throwing a tantrum is a common site. But have you ever wondered what triggers this meltdown in babies? Is your baby trying to tell you something through this? Not all meltdowns or tantrums are an indication of your kid being hungry or feeling insecure. For newborns and babies below 3 years, the naptime is of prime importance. Various research suggests that a newborn baby finds it difficult to stay awake for more than an hour at a stretch. Skipping a naptime can thus have a significant role in a baby meltdown. Keeping a baby awake way past their sleeping time will end up making them tired and fatigued (as the sleep pressure keeps building). When sleep deprivation can drive adults cranky and agitated, they are only babies after all.

Symptoms of a baby meltdown due to skipping naptime

With babies, you have to be a little alert. The little ones may not be able to express themselves well but the following signs can be an indication that your child is overtired and needs to be put off to sleep immediately.

- The baby starts throwing tantrums and is almost unmanageable. There could also be a sudden mood change or a mood swing.

- The baby refuses to eat food (a clear indication that hunger is not the reason for the meltdown).

- They remain clung to their loved ones, especially mother.

- They will keep rubbing their ears, eyes, and hair with constant yawning.

- Even their favourite toys fail to bring a smile back to their face.

- Their hands and legs get tensed.

How to pacify the baby?

1. Just because your baby had a good night sleep does not mean you can skip their nap during the daytime. You can be 5-10 minutes late but do not stretch it for hours.

2. Make a daily sleep routine for the baby and stick to it. The occasional misses are understood but don't make it an everyday affair.

3. If you are busy, you can get some other family members to put the baby to sleep but don't skip it altogether. Do not miss out or ignore the signs (rubbing eyes, ears, hairs, or yawning).

In the case of a meltdown,

- Immediately take the baby into your lap. Take the baby to a room that is quiet and not very well lighted.

- Slowly try to rock and swaddle the baby. There should be maximum body contact with the baby. The idea is to make the baby feel safe and protected. If the meltdown is due to tiredness, the baby will now slowly go off to sleep.

- Stay close to the baby for some time. There are chances that the baby will not have a sound sleep and will wake up in between (maybe within minutes). Finding you around will give them a sense of security.

- In some instances, breastfeeding the baby can also help. 

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