Your baby, who is completely adorable, has lately been showing signs of being ultra-sensitive to, well, lots of things other kids don’t pay much attention to.
For instance, your best friend’s daughter sleeps soundly in her crib at night, even when her older sibs are tearing it up in the next bedroom.
No such luck in your house. The slightest sound is likely to wake your baby and set off an even bigger ordeal when her distress, and your attempts to comfort her, keep everyone else awake for hours.
Or perhaps you’ve found yourself in this predicament:
Your sister’s new addition, at just a year old, happily slips into the open arms of anyone who wants to hold him. But when grandma extends a warm hug and a kiss to your cutie, he burrows his head into your shoulder or looks away.
While many little ones view transitions (and harmless encroachments into their personal space) as minor interruptions, others find these events hugely challenging.
What’s the difference here?
Experts say some babies are simply born with a nervous system that’s wired to react to experiences more intensely.
In some children, the intrusive, the uncomfortable, and the unfamiliar can trigger fear, tears, frustration, anxiety, and other emotions. Super sensitive kids may have a heightened sense of smell, taste, touch, and hearing; an acute awareness of their surroundings; and, compared with other children, they may be more aware of (or reactive to) others’ emotions.
Help Your Baby Manage Sensory Overload
Lower the volume.
Don’t expect your highly sensitive little one to handle commotion and loud noises the same way less sensitive kids do. Don’t force him to join the festivities or shuttle him to a scheduled playtime if he’s reluctant. To him, lively playgrounds and birthday celebrations may be unsettling.
Throw out the rulebook.
Allow your baby to try new things, adapt to change, and transition from activity to activity at her own pace. When introducing a new food, let her smell it, touch it, move it around the plate and play with it—but don’t force her to eat it. Highly sensitive kids often need time to adjust to new tastes and sensations.
Validate his emotions.
Talk to your child when he seems overly cautious or worried. Label feelings for him and describe them in a neutral manner. At a party that overwhelms him, say, “I know you feel it’s crazy noisy here. That’s okay. You tried it for a little while, and I am so proud of you. Let’s go home now and see what Daddy’s doing.”