Stress Awareness Month is observed in April to raise awareness and reduce stigma surrounding mental health issues. There are many ways that stress can be bad for us, and it can affect people of all ages. It can have an impact on elders, children, and adults.
Toddlers find it challenging to handle stress; older people can speak, vent, or find other ways to deal with it. To better understand it, we spoke with Drs. R Kishore Kumar and Lakshmy Menon, two neonatologists and paediatricians at the Cloudnine Group of Hospitals.
What Causes Stress To Babies Or Toddlers?
According to Dr. Menon, the majority of paediatric emergency rooms are built so that toddlers can feel at ease there unless they are receiving medical attention or are critically ill. She has observed, however, that over the past six to eight months, an increasing number of irate parents have complained about the terrible tantrums and screaming episodes their children have been throwing.
Babies cry a lot, can’t fall asleep, and won’t eat. It persuades parents that there is a problem with their child. Physical examinations, however, reveal no symptoms of illness, Dr. Menon continued. In reality, stress is the cause.
According to Dr. Kumar, anxiety in toddlers can manifest itself in a variety of ways if their carers subject them to a stressful situation. It may impair their growth in terms of their mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
Signs Of Stress Among Toddlers
Dr. Menon noted that young children can experience stress in a similar way to adults. It might be a response to an illness, a change in routine, or a change in the environment.
A toddler may experience stress due to loss in the family, being separated from carers, or the birth of a sibling. Many toddlers use their behavioural patterns to communicate because they are unable to do so verbally.
stress symptoms include:
- Change in sleep and eating patterns
- Physical issues like stomach aches
- Increase in tantrums
Signs Of A Stressed Baby
- Reluctant to feed
- Exhibit a lack of visual contact
- Refuse to sleep
- Become more temperamental
- Regress on milestones
- Look away or not smile
- Arms and legs pushing away
- Frantic or disorganised activity
It has been noted that babies have their own calming strategies. One of the few ways they can calm themselves is through non-nutritive sucking or hand-to-mouth motions.
Dr. Menon made the observation that preterm births are a result of stressful pregnancies (pregnancy cravings). When they are toddlers, stressed-out foetuses frequently exhibit altered behaviour.
According to Dr. Kumar, because most toddlers behave somewhat erratically at this age, it can be challenging to diagnose stress in this age group. To find the underlying cause, the doctor would dig deeply into the family history if they were certain.
Stress Management Tips For Baby Or Toddler
- Tune in to signs of early stress
- Respond with utmost love, affection and care
- Promote healthy habits like early sleeping or taking them out for playing
- Teach them about abdominal breathing (hands on the abdomen and five seconds each to inhale from the nose and exhale from the mouth)
- Teach them coping skills like taking deep breaths or listening to music