Image by Katie Smith

INFANT REGULATORY DISORDERS OF MOOD, SLEEP, AND FEEDING

Some children are more sensitive than others to sensory input and do not integrate it sufficiently. This can cause poor sleep habits, feeding difficulties, a lot of fussing, and emotional irritability.

The way the infant is nurtured, their early relationships and the relationship between their sensory processing and the environment, strongly influence the baby’s ability to self-regulate.

 

Adaptive self-regulation is the foundation of most aspects of learning and function.

 

If your baby is over six months of age and displays at least two of the following traits, you may benefit from an Occupational Therapist assessment:

Sleep disturbances

  • your baby takes over 30 minutes to fall asleep, even after calming techniques and bedtime routines have been enacted

  • waking more than twice in the night, which are not related to habitual night feeds

Difficulty self-consoling

  • your baby is unable to self-console (unable to bring hands to midline and hand/ thumb/fingers to mouth to self-sooth) and once upset, requires extreme efforts to calm down

  • you find yourself spending from two to four hours a day over a period of three weeks or longer, attempting to calm the infant

Feeding difficulties

  • does not have an established, regular feeding schedule

  • demonstrates distress around the process of feeding, with regurgitation and spitting out of food, particularly when eating textured or lumpy foods

  • eats only soft foods

  • had difficulty latching on to the breast for longer than five days as a newborn

  • will not tolerate the change from breast to a rubber or silicone teat

Distress with changes in routine

  • your baby fusses when the routine changes​

Distress with routine care-giving and play experiences which offer a sensory challenge

your baby responds by crying, withdrawal with at least three of the following:

  • resists cuddling, pulls away or arches

  • resists being swaddled

  • distressed at having face or hair washed

  • hates car seat

  • resists being placed in certain positions (for example, on tummy or on back)

  • avoids touching certain textures or getting hands messy

  • doesn’t want to wear clothing or wants to wear too many layers or very warm clothes

  • fear of being swung in air or involved in boisterous play

  • is startled or distressed by loud sounds (e.g. vacuum cleaner, door bell or barking dog)

 

Emotional instability

  • Fussiness, irritability, negative mood state, tendency to rapidly escalate from contented mood to distress without an apparent antecedent cause

*The work done by Meg Faure with Baby Sense coupled with  a Sensory Integration Practitioner skill-set guides the intervention used with these children.