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Giving Baby's Senses a Break

Bright lights. Strange smells. Loud siblings. Your infant deals with a world of new experiences from day one. With all this excitement, it's easy for her to get overstimulated, says Carrie Contey, Ph.D., coauthor of Calms: A Guide to Soothing Your Baby. "Their little systems are trying to manage things so quickly," she says. "They need things to pause so they can regroup and feel safe." Before the meltdown, try:

FOLLOWING HER LEAD: If you and your baby are making faces at each other and then she turns away, that's a sign she needs a break, says Contey. Instead of trying to get her attention, wait until she looks back at you to start playing again.

FINDING AN ESCAPE: Sometimes it's not just about you: When there's too much commotion in the room, the best thing might be to help her block out the world for a while. That's what Anne Bowling does to help her crying 4-month-old when her big sisters get a little too rambunctious. "I have to take her upstairs, pull down the shades, swaddle her, and rock her," the Overland Park, KS, mom says. "As soon as I get her away from the noise, she's fine."

TAKING A BREATHER YOURSELF: "Babies can get overwhelmed by our energy," says Contey. If you're feeling stressed, she'll pick up on it. Talk to her soothingly and slow down your movements.