When You Have an Understimulated Child in an Overstimulating World

As I hurriedly buckled my (screaming) 8 month old in her car seat, shoved everything in the diaper bag, and sprinted out of the restaurant, I was reminded of why I avoid going to public places. While my husband and our friends got to enjoy their dinner, I got to drive home with an overstimulated (read: very very unhappy) baby.

Since my daughter was born prematurely and spent time in the NICU, I have done my best to keep her in quarantine–or at the very least, keep her away from high traffic environments. I’m proud to say, she hasn’t had so much as a stuffy nose since we brought her home!

Unfortunately, since she hasn’t been around a lot of people or been to many places other than our house, she gets overstimulated very easily. Typical places that families go are often too much for her to handle. She cries all day after people try to hold her at church, she gets overwhelmed in loud restaurants, and shopping is just out of the question. 

I’m a homebody, so sitting at home with her all week doesn’t bother me, but every now and then I get tired of people telling me we need to venture out of the house and I cave. I always dread these days because I know how they will end–with an overstimulated baby and a cranky momma. 

I’ve read the articles and I know enough about child development to know that it is important for babies to interact with people other than Mom and Dad. But right now, it’s more important for me to keep my daughter healthy and happy, even if that means staying at home. 

Please don’t tell me things like “the more you take her out in public the better she will be,” or “your child is so cranky!” Words like that are not helpful. Instead, please support my decision to stay home with my daughter and keep her healthy.  

One day, I will get my under-stimulated child used to the overstimulating world we live in, but today is not that day. 

How did you get your kids used to overstimulating environments? 


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8 Responses to When You Have an Understimulated Child in an Overstimulating World

  1. Brandy April 7, 2017 at 10:12 am #

    You hit the nail on the head in this article. I feel as if every word you wrote describes how our daughter reacts in public situations. She is also a Preemie. 33.6 weeker.

    • Alana Livingston
      Alana Livingston April 7, 2017 at 10:50 am #

      Brandy, I’m so glad to know I’m not alone! Thanks for commenting!

  2. Lindsay April 7, 2017 at 1:24 pm #

    Wow! I’m sorry this is a challenge you are faced with. You are,in my opinion, absolutely right to do what works for your family. To give an answer to your question at the end….we live in a small town, so when we do venture into larger cities with more of a crowd, my children can have some anxiety about it. My kids associate their stroller (and of course our arms) with safety and familiarity. So when we find ourselves needing to be in a crowded space, the security of their stroller seems to help some. By far what helps my kids the most is if we can get to a new place first, or earlier rather than later. It seems easier for them to welcome the chaos a little at a time instead diving in all at once. I don’t know if any of that will be of help to you now or in the future, but perhaps it can help someone who stumbles across it. Days spent at home with little ones are a lot of fun, I pray that you continue to enjoy this season of life!

    • Alana Livingston
      Alana Livingston April 7, 2017 at 2:22 pm #

      Thanks for the comment, Lindsay! Those are such great tips!! My daughter seems to do better if I wear her in a carrier (similar to how your kids like their stroller), so I guess I will just always have a baby strapped to me! Haha

  3. Lisa April 7, 2017 at 1:53 pm #

    And that would be my daughter (also a premie) and my firstborn son (who is now 4) when he was a baby. It’s been a bit trickier this time around because I have two other children besides my daughter but we’ve tried to keep things as low key as possible. If we don’t she doesn’t sleep. On the up side, it does get better. But it is easier to adjust my expectations and than to hope the baby will meet mine—that’s just not possible!

    • Alana Livingston
      Alana Livingston April 7, 2017 at 2:25 pm #

      I’m so glad to hear that it gets better, Lisa! Kudos for managing the stress of overstimulation with multiple children!! I’m not sure how I will handle it if/when we have another baby so I will definitely take your advice of adjusting my expectations!

  4. Jenna June 25, 2017 at 9:22 am #

    I support you, sister!! Good for you for being in tune enough with baby to know what she needs instead of “pressing on” with a “cranky baby” to keep up with the world’s demands of a busy lifestyle. 😍

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