Can Babies Zone Out

Ava Flores
• Monday, 02 November, 2020
• 8 min read

As Psychology Today pointed out, the human brain holds a limited amount of information in the short-term memory at one time. This means when you are speaking to your toddler, their brain can only make sense of about two sentences at a time.

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If you take the science behind this phenomenon and stir in some everyday factors, you'll see why it's not unusual to experience these seven reasons your toddler is zoning out. When you talk for too long, your child is unable to process all the messages, according to Psychology Today.

So instead of unloading a ton of information at once, break it into smaller pieces and serve it to them two sentences at a time. Too many stimuli can make the brain confused, and even an adult is bound to become distracted.

As Parents pointed out, young children have not learned how to ignore distractions, since that's a skill that comes with age. Trying to stay focused on things that seem boring is hard for anyone, especially toddlers whose brains are still developing.

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site.

If you need to flag this entry as abusive, email us. In an effort to write about the strange things children do on my wellness site, I have been watching my kids more carefully -- possibly for the first time all summer.

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When my husband looks through me while I am talking, I find it rude and annoying, but I get it. Usually, I quickly realize, in the case of my boys anyway, that there is some moving object behind me, like a car transporter.

Admittedly, large, loud things with wheels are way more interesting than I. It is a chance for an overstimulated infant or toddler to remove herself from the madness for a moment.

When a small child turns away from you while you are playing with her, even if she was laughing only a moment before, resist the urge to get in her mug. Kids tend to look away when a task is difficult in an attempt to organize and focus their thoughts.

Kids whose gaze stays with the teacher sometimes are relying too heavily on visual cues. This may make it harder for them to process the information or to perform the task at hand.

God bless them but if your child's teacher is truly concerned, don't dismiss her with this study. Staring into space, or looking like you are in your own world, is one of the many signs of autism.

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Usually, autism is diagnosed after the age of 2, but if you have concerns about a younger child avoiding eye contact, speak with your physician. Most infants and toddlers will look intently into the face of others to learn social cues and will react to a person based on his expression.

Absence seizures can occur many times throughout the day and usually last for about 20 seconds. Despite the “H” for hyperactive, many children with ADHD will sit quietly and stare into space.

Like autism, this alone will not make the diagnosis, but if you are worried, get off the internet and talk to your doctor. Adolescents who stare into the distance with a little smirk on their faces when you are trying to talk to them, have a very serious condition knows as teenage.

I have no advice for that one except patience and well stocked wine cooler. If you haven't already heard it, make sure to listen to “Teenage Daughters” by Martina McBride.

You may know a child who works on Legos for hours, following every instruction in the booklet, and then creating his own displays of vehicles, architectural feats, new settings with figures. He may or not be a good reader, but he can follow visual instructions with pictures to a tee and then generalize to making his own creations.

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You may know an artist who from a young age can draw perspective, make portraits of people, create landscapes and still lives in various media. If their parents prize these abilities and accept their child's hardworking style, there is little conflict.

These kids are very capable of interrupting themselves when they are needed to join in with family activities, but they may be a bit slow in leaving their work to comply. These kids are usually good students giving the same concentration to the subjects that interest them.

But generally speaking, they get good grades, need little prompting to get work done, and are intelligent and persevering. They may not be willing to share the video with others, although they may also watch in groups, each viewer as involved as the next.

They can get testy when a parent tries to turn it off to have them focus on other things like homework, chores, or coming to dinner. They watch the same shows over and over and if they are playing a game, they may increase their skills at, for example, shooting down an enemy.

The shows don't usually encourage higher level thinking, but focus on good and bad, winner and loser, heroes and enemies, bullies and victims. If this “zoning out becomes problematic because it creates arguments and conflicts with others who might want to use the screen to watch something else, or they have other priorities to attend to that they avoid, then parents need to draw the child's attention to what is happening.

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Help them prioritize the other tasks they need to do like homework, chores, visiting with friends and family before they get hooked on a show. Share with them how the themes of the shows tend to be the same: they focus on good and bad guys.

It’s also pretty common to experience prolonged spaciness or brain fog if you’re dealing with grief, a painful breakup, or other difficult life circumstances. In these cases, zoning outran serve as a coping tactic of sorts, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Zoning out is considered a form of dissociation, but it typically falls at the mild end of the spectrum. This can happen when your brain recognizes that you can complete your current task, whether that’s folding laundry or walking to work, without really thinking about it.

Still, the following factors can make you more prone to zoning out, even when the task really does require your full attention. It might not seem like a huge deal, but sleep deprivation can take a big toll on your mental functioning and make you more prone to zoning out.

This is often a coping tactic that helps you keep stress and overwhelm at a distance until you feel equipped to deal with them. If you’ve gone through any kind of trauma, this tendency to zone out might border on more severe dissociation.

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In the face of extreme stress, some people respond by shutting down, or completely detaching. Shutdown dissociation can affect function in the central nervous system, which can lead to a more total absence of presence.

Plus, when you’re really involved in doing something you enjoy, whether that’s drawing, working out, playing video games, or reading your favorite book, you might feel totally absorbed and not notice what’s happening around you. If you zone out to cope with something difficult, like an argument with your partner or a lecture from your boss, you might feel less distress at the moment.

Maybe you zone out while driving on the freeway because you’ve driven the same route every day for the past 7 years. Still, even though you know the road well, losing focus while driving can easily lead to an accident.

Dissociation can have a protective function when people, especially children, can ’t escape from a traumatic or distressing experience. If you continue to dissociate in response to all types of stress, you may not use other, more helpful coping methods.

Breathing in a strong fragrance, like an essential oil stretching or jumping in place running cold or warm water over your hands sucking on a hard candy with an intense flavor (cinnamon, peppermint, or even sour candies are great options) Logging these episodes can give insight into any patterns of mind wandering and help you take note of your thoughts before zoning out.

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If you’re washing dishes, for example, stay present by thinking about the fragrance of the dish soap, the roughness of the sponge, the temperature of the water, and the satisfaction you feel when you get a filthy pot sparkling clean. Good self-care techniques can help you manage stress and overwhelm more easily, which can make zoning out less likely.

Short, frequent breaks to stretch, rest, and have an energizing snack can increase your productivity and concentration. Generally speaking, you don’t need to worry about zoning out occasionally, especially if it happens mostly when you’re engrossed in a task, and it doesn’t seem to have any negative effects on your daily life.

If your child appears to be daydreaming but doesn’t respond when you try to get their attention, it’s a good idea to see their pediatrician. Getting in the zone while enjoying a good run and realizing you’ve lost track of the last few minutes probably isn’t something you need to worry about.

Her fields of interest include Asian languages and literature, Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health.

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