Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Infant Stress

Is your baby acting out of control, and you can’t seem to calm him? Is the home environment possibly stressful right now for you as parents?

Even though babies cannot verbally express their opinions, they are aware of their surroundings enough to detect a stressful atmosphere. There is so much for them to take in, and yet their brains are just at the beginning stages of life.
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A study called Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE) is focused on childhood stress. It is a reflective study asking participants to look back on stressful childhood experiences in the areas of abuse, neglect, violence, alcohol in household, and other traumatic stressors.  Its purpose is to “measure the total amount of stress in childhood.”  From this study, experts measure the total amount of stress in childhood and results show the impact of stress on the rest of their lives.

Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, M.D. in his book Touchpoints: The Essential Reference, describes what kinds of things contribute to the stress of a baby sharing that over the years the stress a baby encounters prenatally, or even early in life, have become abnormally high.   

Some tactics he shares to create a less stressful environment include:
  • A quiet room at home, with dim lights,
  • Soft voices and sounds, respecting the baby’s easily overloaded nervous system
  • Use gentleness when touching or picking up your baby; 
  • Beware of overstimulation by constant movement.
  • Observe your child, so you can understand his needs, 
  • Know where infant's comfort limits are.
American Academy of Pediatrics states that high levels of stress can be a cause for concern that you should share with your pediatrician, but some levels of stress are normal for development. They also state the importance of a positive, loving family environment in order to limit very stressful situations.

If you have any concerns about your child's stress level, please discuss them with your pediatrician.

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