Thursday, May 17, 2012

Reading Your Newborn's SOSs

Welcome to Childbirth Today's 2012 Blog Carnival - honoring the busy month of May and all of the celebrations of midwives, nurses, doulas and childbirth educators...AND mothers!  Today's blog carnival entry features a post by Jan Tedder BSN, FNP, IBCLC and President of HUG Your Baby, LLC.

All babies are at time over-stimulated after leaving the relatively quiet, peaceful environment of the womb! Over-stimulation can interfere with a baby’s ability to eat and sleep well, and to calm down so he or she can interact with and learn from this world. Babies have clear, yet subtle, ways to let moms and dads know they are a bit overwhelmed.   Babies will send out an “SOS”: a Sign of Over-Stimulation.

What does an SOS look like?
There are two kinds of SOS: Body SOS and Behavioral SOS.

Body SOSs A baby who is over-stimulated may show a body SOS by changes in his color (from normal skin color to pale or bright red), changes in breathing (from slow and regular to fast and choppy), and changes in movement (from smooth movements to jerks and tremors.)

Behavioral SOS There are three behavioral SOS as well: Spacing Out, Switching Off, and Shutting Down. A baby who is slightly over-stimulated might suddenly look away from her parent and stare into space (Spacing Out). If you continue to try to engage with him, he might  turn away from your face again and again (Switching Off). If the stimulation persists, the baby may move from alert and engaging to drowsy or sleepy (Shutting Down).

How can I help my baby when he sends an SOS?

•    Decrease stimulation by speaking more quietly and holding the baby still for a few minutes.
•    Increase support by swaddling the baby, swaying her gently, or encouraging her to suck—a finger or breastfeeding.

Learn to read your baby’s body language – your baby can be your greatest teacher!

See for more information on reading your baby’s body language and to see videos of these SOSs in action!

HUG Your Baby is an organization designed to teach parents, and the professionals who serve them, about how to understand a baby’s body language. Through educational DVDs, a website, blog and E-Newsletters HUG Your Baby helps parents prevent and solve problems around a baby’s eating, sleeping, crying and attachment. Learn more and request the FREE E-Newsletter at

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