- Family and Parenting
What Is A High Needs Baby?
What is a high needs baby? High needs babies are not special needs babies, they are ‘need my mommy, and only my mommy' babies. All babies cry, but high needs babies scream the second they aren't right next to their mothers, they want to feed every second of the day, they won't sleep alone, and everything bothers them. Parents are worn out by the end of the day after caring for a high needs baby, I know, I have one. Many parents told me she just had colic, but I knew there was something more to it. I didn't give up, and finally I found the right pediatrician who told me I wasn't crazy, or a bad mother, but that my child was high needs. At first, I was shocked at his statement! What was wrong with her? Laughing a little, he calmed me down and told me that high needs was not special needs, just ‘mommy needs'. Here are some signs that your baby may be high needs:
- Enter the baby-and the screaming
From the second my daughter was born, she wanted nothing to do with anyone but her mother. She screamed if I even left long enough to go to the bathroom. High needs babies are very insecure and put more energy into their crying than other babies. Babies cry so that we know they need something, and high needs babies will shriek and loose that cute baby cry much earlier than other babies, because their feelings of insecurity are much more intense.
- Holy cow, how can you eat so much!
High needs babies want to constantly feed. I breastfed, so I felt like she was latching on all day and all night, and that was the only thing that soothed her. At first, I thought my body wasn't making enough milk for her, but she was gaining weight at a normal pace. Then, I was sure she would explode from too much milk, so I tried a pacifier, which you'll find with a lot of high needs babies, because they want mom. Here's where we separate western culture from the rest of the world, because a high needs baby will not, and should not be put on a feeding schedule. My pediatrician told me just to let her eat when she needed it, and she would be happier. My body started to make less milk per feeding naturally, and I nursed her on demand. Western culture norm frowns upon that, but scientifically, it makes a happier, more secure child. The skin-to-skin factor of breastfeeding also has shown to soothe babies, especially high needs babies. This is great for breastfed babies rather than formula fed babies, because using a bottle as a pacifier is not a good idea.
- Who put a quarter in that kid?
High needs babies are much more hyper than other babies, and this follows into toddlerhood beyond. Also, they're muscles are more tense than other babies, so they hate to be swaddled. Baby massage works wonders in these tight little bundles of joy. My daughter is almost two, and still loves having her legs massaged. It was one of the only things that would calm her down as an infant.
Never shake a baby
- I want it NOW
I want it now, and if I don't get it now, I'm going to let you know until you give it to me! Learn your babies cues, because high needs babies don't have time for you to go through the list of things that could be wrong. This makes it easier on the baby as well as the parents. High needs babies are very demanding, and as infants, their demands are not selfish, they are survival. Of course, as the child grows older, you do not want to give into every demand, but if you set the foundation when they're infants that you'll cover their needs, they will be more secure as toddlers.
If you feel like your high needs baby never sleeps, it's only because everything wakes them up. My daughter would not sleep unless she had a hand on me. That child had seismic sensors, because if I even moved too much, she would wake up and immediately scream as if some one was murdering her. High needs babies don't switch gears easily, and going from awake to asleep is a huge change, so you cannot lay them down until they are in a deep sleep. Also, high needs babies often wake up between the transitions of sleep stages, which makes it hard for them to reach deep sleep, so they awaken more easily. Don't give up though, just understand that your high needs baby has different sleep needs. Let your baby cuddle with you until his face is expressionless, and his limbs are limp before you lay him down. Let your to-do list go, and just embrace the 20-30 minutes with your little one. Again, I separated the western culture's beliefs, and allowed the family bed. High needs children will often only sleep through the night when they have physical contact with mom. If you must lay your child down, don't give her any extra stimuli, because high needs babies can't process it very well. Don't use mobiles, crib toys, or anything else that will keep your baby from sleeping.
- No one will ever want to baby-sit her
You may feel that no one will ever want to baby-sit your high needs child. A high needs baby will never learn to be independent, and going back to western culture separation, mothers and babies were not meant to be separated. To a baby, they are part of their mother, and high needs babies suffer from severe separation anxiety and insecurity. They feel frightened when they are not with their mommies, and this is normal. It would be like you leaving your arms or legs at home to go on a trip, having no idea of your destination, what will happen when you get there, and no clue when you can go back home to your limbs. Studies show that infants who spend more time attached to mom, and are breastfed on cue have less anxiety. Eventually, your child will trust more and more people, but it will take time, and if something doesn't feel right about some one, they will let you know, and loudly. Don't force a high needs child into a caregiver situation. It will only make the anxiety worse, especially for the first six months. If you have to leave your child with a provider, be sure that provider has enough experience with high needs children. A lot of shaken babies are products of frustrated parents and caregivers of high needs babied.
- I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!
If you feel your blood begin to boil, and you become angry with your child, ask
for help. Enlist your spouse, a trusted family member, or friend to assist you. Don't ever shake a baby, it can cause brain damage or death in an instant. Most people who shake a baby don't do it just because they are mean people. They are people who love their babies, but don't know how to calm down. If you must, place your child in a safe approved crib or playpen, and go outside of your home to cool off. Don't ever let your anger get the best of you. High needs babies are just that, high needs. They will take more time, more patience, and they will test your will to the very limits possible.
- Why me?
You may ask yourself why your baby is high needs. No one is really sure, but I believe that since things in my own life created such anxiety in me during my pregnancy, I passed it on to my daughter. Some believe that pain medications, or high blood pressure during pregnancy are the causes. Either way, raising a high needs baby takes more than just some patience, it takes dedication, and extra work. Over time, the symptoms are less severe, but I feel very close and it tune with my daughter. Perseverance will prevail, so don't give up.