Stress in Babies: What You Should Know

06 March, 2020
Babies can also experience stress. What factors cause it and what are its consequences? Learn all about stress in babies in this article.

Everyone has experienced stress at some point in their lives. This is completely normal. In fact, this feeling manifests not only in adults but also in children and even babies. That’s why we’ve decided to share this article on stress in babies.

This problem has increased in recent years, which isn’t surprising, as life is now full of factors that can cause discomfort in babies.

What’s stress?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines stress as:

“The reaction people may have when presented with demands and pressures that aren’t matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope.”

– WHO –

Therefore, feeling stress is completely natural and necessary for the survival of human beings. But it can become a very negative feeling when there’s excessive stress. This can cause diseases and pathological abnormalities that affect development.

Stress in Babies: What You Should Know

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”

– William James –

Factors that cause stress in babies

The emotional problems of their parents

Currently, it’s difficult to achieve a work-life balance. So consequently, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for people to organize themselves. This can cause a lack of well-established daily routines, which is very negative for babies.

In addition, in our society, it’s common for adults to suffer from emotional problems such as:

  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

In these cases, parents can transmit those negative feelings to their children, making babies experience stress.

Exposure to a variety of stimuli

Stimulating children at an early age is very beneficial for their evolutionary development. But if babies are frequently exposed to too many different stimuli, it’s possible that this will harm them.

Therefore, overstimulation is counterproductive. You should also bear in mind that, nowadays, children are surrounded by a multitude of external stimuli (noises, sounds, colors, and lights, among other things) since they’re very young.

Sleep deprivation in relation to stress in babies

Sleep deprivation, or not getting enough sleep, affects:

  • Emotional and psychological well-being
  • Physical health
  • Quality of life

Thus, one can say that poor sleep quality has serious effects on people’s mood, making them more likely to experience stress. This also happens to babies.

Insecure attachment

Another factor that can lead to stress in babies is insecure attachment. In other words, the absence of a good emotional and trusting relationship with their parents during their first years of life.

In this regard, it’s worth mentioning that there are three types of insecure attachments:

  • Anxious. Intermittently receiving love and attention by their caregivers.
  • Avoidant. Neglect care with continued neglect.
  • Fearful. Negligent parenting and abuse.

In all these cases, it’s common for babies to experience feelings of frustration and stress. Therefore, parents should provide their children affection and attention, so they feel safe and protected, which prevents stress.

Stress in Babies: What You Should Know

The consequences of stress in babies

It’s important to detect stress in babies and take action as soon as possible, as it can cause diseases and negatively affect children’s health. Even in the long term, meaning that stress can have repercussions throughout the child’s development.

In fact, the probability of a child becoming a depressed adult is greater if they suffered from stress during childhood. In addition, these children can suffer from psychosomatic disorders, such as:

  • Separation anxiety
  • Avoidance disorder
  • Excessive anxiety disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Adjustment disorder

In short, it’s important to care for babies’ mental health to avoid stress and raise happy babies.

  • García, M. L. y  González, M. T. (1995). El estrés y el niño: factores de estrés durante la infancia. Aula: Revista de Pedagogía de la Universidad de Salamanca, (7), 185-202.
  • Gonzáles, R. M. (2014). Conocer el estrés. Repercusión del estrés en la infancia. (Trabajo de Fin de Grado). Departamento de Enfermería: Universidad de Cantabria.