Increasing Social Tolerance

For babies who become easily overwhelmed by social stimuli there are some ways to help them gradually increase the length and variety of social interaction they can tolerate.  It is important to understand this is not a sign of a permanent problem in your infant’s social abilities.  Rather it is a sign of immaturity and health status.

Most people’s natural tendency is to talk to their baby when they look at her.  If you notice when you do this your baby appears stressed (for example, looks away, fusses, yawns, has a bowel movement or goes limp) she may be trying to tell you this is too much stimulation.  You should try not talking while you and your baby look at each other, or talking to the baby from a side position, allowing her to choose whether or not to combine looking and listening.  Allow the baby to pace the interaction.  If the baby turns away, she may be taking a break.  Quietly wait to see if the baby turns and looks back at you.

For some babies feeding takes all their energy and they cannot socialize during this time.  If you notice your baby is very tired by the work of feeding, try positioning yourself during the feeding so the baby is looking away from the activity in the room.  Keep the noise level in the room low and do not look directly at the baby.  Have your social time later, separate from feeding.  Going slowly and reading your baby’s cues should make your growing relationship with the baby go more smoothly.  You will be gradually lengthening and extending the variety and robustness of your baby’s tolerance for social interaction.

Electronic Mail Contact