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Can anyone talk to me about "shutting down" from overstimulation vs. being calmed?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I'm just trying to sort this out, as I'm hardly a child development expert.

 

I've been reading conflicting things about some of the more typical baby-"soothing" techniques and activities.  Some seem to think that babies who go to sleep with really loud sounds/music, vigorous movement, etc., are doing so because they are "shutting down" (sort of a very mild going-into-shock) from overstimulation, vs. actually being calmed, per se.  That makes some sense to me, as I know (?) babies do sometimes shut down in the face of overstimulation... but honestly, I don't know too much about it.  So I guess I'm looking for info on the subject!

 

I feel like... if I understood more about how and when and why babies "shut down" d/t overstimulation, then I'd be better able to assess whether that might be happening when a baby is, for example, being subjected to really loud white noise and/or swung vigorously (per Happiest Baby on the Block)-- just one example of many, though.

 

Make any sense?  Thoughts?  Opinions?

post #2 of 13

Oooo! Good question. I wonder if that also applies to the very loud sssshhhing in the ear that is a common sleep technique. I have a friend who IS a child development expert. I'll ask her the next time I see her...

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

That would be GREAT, Mommel!  I'm kind of intrigued, yet confused on this point.

post #4 of 13

Just listening in as I think this is fascinating. Especially the question of the Happiest Baby on the Block "shhhh" sound. My baby always hated this with a passion and if I make the mistake of even uttering a gentle 'shhhh' when he is fussing at the breast he will freak out and start full-on wailing. I know some say that the sound of mama's body is pretty loud while in the womb but it is all insulated/diffused by the bag of waters so I don't totally buy that.
 

post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 

One of the things I'm skeptical about with HBOTB is the idea that veins and arteries make that much noise.  Not that the womb isn't overall noisy-- just because, so is the outside world, generally, so it's the same, only muffled...  Plus, IDK, maybe there are some internal noises (mom's heartbeat, etc.).  But veins and arteries... the supposed "whoosh" of blood flow...  that doesn't sound right to me?

 

As far as HBOTB, swings, etc... I'm not convinced they don't usually "work."  They probably usually do.  I'm just not certain that's always a good thing, in the long term.  I'm also far from certain they do any harm whatsoever.  Just looking for some possible answers!

post #6 of 13
Does this from the very anti-CIO Moxie shed any light? It has always made a lot of sense to me.
Quote:
I think* that there are a couple different kinds of babies. There are babies who release tension by crying, and there are babies who increase energy by crying. If you treat them both the same way, you're going to have trouble, so it's key to figure out which kind of kid you have.

A kid who releases tension by crying will not always nurse or be rocked down to sleep. It may happen sometimes, but often times the kid will get progressively more active and jittery, almost manic, as the nursing or rocking session goes on. He or she may cry during the rocking/nursing, and not settle down in a few seconds. It's almost as if the kid wants to cry. If you leave the child alone, the child will wail initially (for anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes), but then settle down to a fuss or whimper, and will soon fall asleep. A child who releases tension from crying will often wake up happy and refreshed, and will play alone in the bed, co-sleeper, or crib for awhile before you come to get them.

A kid who gains tension by crying will go to sleep easily (and maybe exclusively) by nursing or rocking. It may take awhile, but rocking/nursing is a sure, gradual path toward relaxation and sleep. If left alone before s/he's asleep, s/he'll start to cry. And will cry and cry, increasing in intensity until the child goes hoarse or throws up or you give in and go to comfort him or her. Many kids who increase tension by crying, even if they go to sleep peacefully and happily, will wake up crying or grumpy and need to be gotten immediately from the sleeping area.

Full post:

http://moxie.blogs.com/askmoxie/2006/06/babies_and_cio.html
post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by zinemama View Post

Does this from the very anti-CIO Moxie shed any light? It has always made a lot of sense to me.
Full post:
http://moxie.blogs.com/askmoxie/2006/06/babies_and_cio.html

 

Awesome. I'm not sure if that answers the question or not, but my kid is definitely a gains tension by crying kid... I can nurse him to sleep in about 15-20 minutes, but if I don't get him as soon as I hear a peep, he'll freak the frak out and it will take an hour or more before he calms down. That was really great info, zinemama! Thanks. :)

 

ETA: I still haven't gotten a hold of my child development expert friend, but I'm working on it. Things have been a little nutty around here. 

post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hmmm...  I don't know what to think about that link.  It feels so anecdotal to me... which is fine, but... I'm wondering (honestly wondering, not concluding) just how easy it is to identify kids who "fuss" to sleep to "release tension."  A lot of commenters seemed to say things like, "Yes!  You are totally describing my tension-releaser!  It only took a month of letting him cry himself to sleep for an hour at a time before he became the world's best sleeper!"  (i.e., he doesn't cry anymore)

 

Of course, there were others who described 1-3 minutes of light fussing before falling asleep, and while that has the ring of truth to it, I'm not 110% convinced that's always healthy as described, either.  Just don't know.

 

Regardless, I'm not sure whether the possibly "overstimulating" soothing techniques would be better or worse for which kind of baby (if we're giving credence to the theory).

post #9 of 13

If you pay close attention to your baby, you can often tell what's going on: are they getting so upset that the shut down? Are they being soothed? Adults have vastly different thresholds for noise, for movement, for roller coasters, for being lulled by a car or feeling ill. When I start shushing my baby, there are days when she snuggles down and slowly goes to sleep, and there are days when she thrashes her arms at me. If it's upsetting her, I stop. On the other hand, when I need to walk her to sleep, sometimes she fights against going into the stroller, but then the moment she's in she quiets down and starts yawning and falls asleep within half a block. (If she doesn't settle down immediately, I take her out and try something else)

 

But watching the baby is the best way to figure out whether they're being soothed or overstimulated.

post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 

IDK, rinap.  Maybe.  I just get the impression from some that just demonstrating an "off switch" (for example, immediately falling asleep with vigorous rocking) IS shutting down.  I don't think I'm talking about fighting something that might be overstimulating-- in that case, it would be clear the child is unhappy (and not shutting down). 

 

I'm talking about babies going to sleep or getting quiet as a way to "get away" from the stimulus (a more dramatic version of when they look away from something overstimulating)-- which I don't think would be a good thing (esp. long term).  And I'm not sure how clear it would be from observation of behavior in the moment-- perhaps one needs to know from a developmental standpoint that shutting down is probably what's happening and that it's just not healthy...  (if that's the case-- again, I'm just trying to figure it out).

 

Not to analogize too closely, but I think of when people have their boys circed and then say "he slept all day" or "was so calm afterwards," and anti-circ people (rightly) say those reactions were from shock.  So, we know babies can "shut down" in the face of something shocking.

 

I am just not convinced either way that vigorous movement and/or very loud sounds are either calming or shocking--YK?

 

Still looking for answers! 

post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by buko View Post

Hmmm...  I don't know what to think about that link.  It feels so anecdotal to me... which is fine, but... I'm wondering (honestly wondering, not concluding) just how easy it is to identify kids who "fuss" to sleep to "release tension." 

Well, reading that link was what finally convinced me that the kind, loving, caring parents who urged me to CIO, saying that their babies simply fussed for a few minutes, then went right to sleep, were not actually pathological liars (which was what I was beginning to think). They simply had the kind of "tension-releasing" babies Moxie describes. I couldn't figure it out before then, because my kid would wail like a maniac if I ever tried to simply lay him down, while these other babies would fall asleep in minutes. I never wanted to CIO, but a couple of times I did try leaving him for a few minutes, to see if maybe he would actually go to sleep, the way these other babies did. No dice. He was not that kind of baby.

Now, I think leaving a baby to cry for as long as it takes until they give up and fall asleep is a very, very different thing. But after 12 years of parenting, I'm convinced that there really are kids who fuss for a few minutes, then easily go to sleep. I don't consider letting a kid do that to be CIO. And I'm convinced that it's the parents of kids like this who write most of the sleep books.
post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zinemama View Post


Well, reading that link was what finally convinced me that the kind, loving, caring parents who urged me to CIO, saying that their babies simply fussed for a few minutes, then went right to sleep, were not actually pathological liars (which was what I was beginning to think). They simply had the kind of "tension-releasing" babies Moxie describes. I couldn't figure it out before then, because my kid would wail like a maniac if I ever tried to simply lay him down, while these other babies would fall asleep in minutes. I never wanted to CIO, but a couple of times I did try leaving him for a few minutes, to see if maybe he would actually go to sleep, the way these other babies did. No dice. He was not that kind of baby.
Now, I think leaving a baby to cry for as long as it takes until they give up and fall asleep is a very, very different thing. But after 12 years of parenting, I'm convinced that there really are kids who fuss for a few minutes, then easily go to sleep. I don't consider letting a kid do that to be CIO. And I'm convinced that it's the parents of kids like this who write most of the sleep books.

 


Yes, I agree with that...  Well, mostly, LOL.  Because I also know many people who sing the praises of CIO and talk about hours of crying for months...

post #13 of 13

Okay... all this discussion has really piqued my curiosity now, so I finally called my child development expert friend and left her a message. She's usually really good about getting back to me, but she's working right now (she works with autistic kiddos in a local public school and just got her Master's in Early Childhood Development), so maybe I'll hear back from her later this evening. 

 

I'll check back when I hear from her on this.

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