It has been a rough day, you feel a little freaked out on the inside, but you’re putting on a brave face. It is business as usual – after all, you got to pick up your eldest from soccer, get everyone bathed and fed, bake a batch cookies for the church, finish that report and…..
You turn your attention to taking care of the youngest member of the family, spooning in dinner, suddenly your usually happy-go-lucky baby, begins behaving badly. Eish. Just what you need – a niggley baby. You feel your stress levels rise a notch.
It’s as if your baby “caught” your stress.
You dismiss the idea as ridiculous – it is just co-incidence. Actually your intuition is correct. Researchers from the University of California have found, babies do indeed catch their Mom’s stress.
The stress test
The researchers invited 69 Moms with little ones between the ages of 12 to 14 months, to participate in their “stress” test. On arrival at the lab, each Mom and baby was wired up with a sensor, which allowed the team to track their vital signs throughout the session.
After a settling in period, the Mom was asked to leave her baby and proceed to another room to give a 5 minute speech to two “evalutators”. When the “ordeal” was over, Mom and baby were reunited.
Stressing out Moms
Giving a speech is stressful at the best of times, but this stress is often beneficial, being “evaluated” definitely ramps up the stress further. In this study,
- One group of Moms found the situation horrible. During the delivery of their speech, the evaluators deliberately gave negative feedback – frowning, shaking their heads and crossing their arms. Shame !
- A second group of Moms, found the evaluators were exceptionally nice, going out of their way to make the speech giving process pleasant, by nodding, smiling and leaning forward during the speech.
- A third group, received little visible feedback on their performance from the evaluators.
The Moms unlucky enough to land in the group that received the negative feedback, noticed.
The stressed out Moms
When asked, they reported that they had found the session particularly distressing and the sensors confirmed, the speech giving process had been a STRESSFUL experience from a physiological perspective.
Stressing out babes
After the speech giving session, all the Moms were reunited with their little one.
A happy moment !
Not so much for some. The Moms who had been deliberately stressed out by the research team, returned to the room with fluttering hearts.
And their baby’s responded with a flutter.
The sensors picked up, that a few minutes after the Mom and baby were reunited, the baby’s heart rate had risen from base line levels, to match the Mom’s increased heart rate. The rise in the baby’s heart rate mirrored the rise in the Mom’s heart rate, perfectly.
Babies are tuned in
Your baby is able to pick up on your emotional state and responds accordingly.
Your stress is contagious !
At this stage, the researchers are not sure how the stress signal is communicated to the infant.
It could be
- a smell
- vocal tension
- facial expression
The point is – it is communicated.
Juggling all the things you have to do is potentially stressful – not just for you, but for you little one.
Stress management is important for everyone, but as a Mom, you need to be extra vigilant, because you’re managing stress for TWO, you and your little one.
|Stress really is the reason you at the whole packet||Too much stress can cause a brain freeze||Are you passing on your stress to your kids ?|
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