She starts to get restless. I recognize the whimper and I pick her up and whisper in her ear as we walk around the bedroom. We walk and rock and it doesn’t take long before she is asleep, worn out from play and observing the world around her.
There are fussy moments that mean the baby is tired. Or hungry. Or overstimulated. Amelia lets me know.
As I learn more and more about my child, I learn what her cries mean, what facial expressions indicate she’s overwhelmed, and I can anticipate her responses.
This is something that an older sibling (and sometimes other adults) can’t as easily do. At times there are hurt feelings. “She doesn’t like me anymore.”
Sometimes, we can’t always decipher what our babies are trying to tell us. One moment baby is happy and giggling, enjoying the game, and the next she is overwhelmed and frantic.
When play becomes too much
I’m not an expert on babies, by any means. But I am an expert on my babies and I have learned over the years that there are times when my baby needs to turn away, take a break, even from play.
As fun as the game of peek-a-boo, or repeating the ba-ba-ba-ba sounds we mimic back and forth to each other, or the funny faces her brother makes are to her, as an infant her attention span is short and sometimes she simply gets overstimulated.
My job is to respond when the baby is pushed too far, to recognize her gestures and sounds and facial expressions, and to soothe her while explaining to the big brother or big sister that the fun is done, for now.
My job is also to make sure that older siblings know this isn’t a rejection of them, but a natural part of the process of play for babies.
Hopefully we all reach a healthy balance, but sometimes that isn’t so easy when you are five and really, really love playing with your baby sister.
A year later and I find over-stimulation is still something I need to watch out for during play for Amelia as a toddler. Her attention span is a bit longer, of course, but it is important for promoting peaceful play between siblings to be on the lookout for signs baby or toddler is over-tired or overstimulated.