Ever since C’s colic started, I’ve been following The Fussy Baby Site‘s blog.  Today, they posted a list of the Top Websites for Colic.  I visited the Ask Dr. Sears website that was listed and stumbled upon information on high needs babies.  I had an “aha” moment – FINALLY, C’s personality is explained.

I knew he was a strong-willed and determined baby, but I’ve been spending a lot of time scouring parenting books to figure out how to conform him to a schedule – especially for his naps.  He refuses to nap more than 20 minutes at a time.  Even getting him to do that is a struggle that typically involves screaming on his part.  Now I understand that it’s not something that I’m doing wrong, and it’s not something that he’s likely to grow out of.  It’s just his personality.  And he’s not alone – there are many other high needs babies.  Their parents also feel exasperated and at a loss for what to do, since their baby’s personality is unlike that of others they know.  High needs babies even tend to make their feelings known in the womb by being extremely active.  I feel validated!

According to Dr. Sears, whose forth child had this personality, there are 12 features of a high needs baby.  C exhibits many of these features:

  • Intense.  Whenever C wants something, he starts screaming.  He goes from “0 to 60” in the blink of an eye.
  • Draining.  After an entire day of needing to actively entertain him and fighting to get him to nap, I am completely drained.  It’s exhausting.
  • Demanding.  He needs to be held a lot, entertained, switch positions often while feeding, etc.  When he’s not getting what he wants, he screams.
  • Unsatisfied.  He’s only content doing something for a short amount of time.  I constantly need to switch things up for him, whether that’s moving him from gym to bouncer to floor to swing or parading toy after toy in front of him to keep him entertained.
  • Unpredictable.  I’ve tracked C’s feeding and sleep schedule since he was born.  There has NEVER been a pattern to it.  I think we’ll always be an “on-demand” household, because that’s the only thing that seems to work for him.
  • Super sensitive.  Whenever something is the least bit wrong in his world, he starts to cry.  In one respect, this is good because he lets us know he needs something.  When it happens frequently, it becomes a bit frustrating.
  • Can’t put baby down.  Sometimes he just cries and screams no matter what we do unless he is held.  If we sit down, he cries because he wants to be rocked or walked around with.  He has a need to see everything that is happening around him, which I believe is another reason that he doesn’t want to nap.
  • Not a self-soother.  Some children can soothe themselves with their thumbs, fists or a pacifier.  Not C – his cries will continue to become louder and more frantic until you attend to his needs.  It’s best to get to him quickly before it escalates.

It’s challenging to be a parent of a high needs baby, because your baby doesn’t accept common methods (i.e. crying it out or other sleep training).  Because you see other babies who are easily calmed or content, you sometimes question your ability as a parent.  I’m so thankful to The Fussy Baby Site for posting this information!  C is not just a difficult child, and I am not doing something wrong as a parent.  This is simply C’s personality and I need to learn how to conform to HIS needs.  While it may be hard at times to raise a high needs child, if Hubster and I learn how to positively direct his passion and intensity, these traits will serve him well in life.  I just need to remind myself that when I feel like I’m going insane!

*Special thanks to my parents; I, too, was a spirited high needs child.  Their patience with me and encouragement of all of my energy has served me well.  I hope that I will be able to do the same for C.*

7 thoughts on “High Needs Baby

  1. sounds like one of my twins… she cries herself hoarse before she’ll self soothe. The other one will cry every time I sit down with her, I always have to be standing. Take comfort in knowing that it gets better as they get older…

  2. Was your baby a preemie baby? My son was about a month premature, and my older family doctor said that he had read up on the subject and that preemie babies can be more sensitive to sights, sounds, touch, etc. That was very true of my son at that age. One doctor actually mentioned that he might have what is called Sensory Integration Disorder, but we never followed up on that. He does have some sensory issues now, as a teen, but he just deals with them.

    1. That makes sense – and probably why one of your twins cries that way, @supermominthemaking. One of our cousin’s kids has the Sensory Integration Disorder. She’s 4, I believe, and some of her sensitivities include types of food due to different textures. Last I heard, she’s been doing well in her therapy. I had never heard of that problem before – very interesting.

      C was actually overdue :-/ I wonder if we’ll have those types of problems with him.

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