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High-Need babies

Orlando, FL
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High-Need babies

My wife and I have a 4 1/2 month old boy. In the early weeks, he was fussy, gassy, and irritable a lot. But, he didn’t exhibit the common signs of being “colicky.”
In our pursuit to help him, we discovered that he had a few development issues with his cranium and neck. These have been treated, but, he still can shatter the window’s with his screams.
My mother turned me on to a phrase “High-need” baby. It is a phrase coined by a couple that specialize in pediatrics, William and Martha Sears. If you Google the term, you will find many blogs and articles about it, but, when we talk to other parents, they give you that “look.” (That “You are being manipulated by your child” look).
Our son fit’s most of the characteristics of the High-Need baby, and this requires my wife and I to be super-attentive to his needs and behaviors.
I would like to chat with other parent’s that are living with a High-Needs baby or even caregivers (medical, day care, etc.) that understand the demands of a High-Needs baby.

Comments

  1. Hi Robert, I myself have not had a high-needs baby (yet!) but for sure have heard of the term, and think it really sums up quite nicely what parents are encountering on a day-to-day basis. Plus, I think it is SO much nicer than the “good vs bad” baby language. Babies are not bad or good, they are just who they are! So just my little nod of support to you both for figuring out your baby, accepting where they are at, and seeking education and support!

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    1. Thank you, Jennifer, for your response. The conventional wisdom with the High-Need baby is that, if they are given the proper care in the beginning, then, they will grow up to become determined and confident adults. I hope our son will follow that trend.

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      1. Robert, I remember worrying (and googling) about whether this meant my baby would grow up with a fussy, unhappy disposition. I prayed incessantly that she’d be a happy kid and later a happy adult. Now that she is five I can report that she is confident, self-secure, insanely independent and highly passionate. There are still traces of the baby she was (she still gets pretty fired up when things go wrong and we work on “rolling with the punches”), and she is still demanding of us as parents. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. With that comes a child that knows what she wants, and I think that quality breeds a successful adult.

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      2. You’re very welcome!

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  2. Robert, I had a high-need baby, as identified by my child’s pediatrician at the time. (I had never heard of the term, and I think our doctor shared it as a way to tell us we weren’t alone!) My daughter is now almost five, and I can honestly admit that I just now am forgetting how tough it was the first year of her life. I can share with you a few thoughts of advice. 1. Don’t pay attention to “the look.” Plenty of people will not understand what you’re going through. Their babies sleep through the night, only fuss during “fussy time” and are generally easy to soothe when upset… they won’t get it. 2. Cut yourselves some slack! Hire a babysitter or a nanny more often than you think you should so you can get some time to feel human and just breathe. Don’t worry about whether you’re doing it right, you’re good enough, or screwing up your baby. He will be just fine because he has two parents who love him enough to worry. 😉 3. When people ask how they can help, actually give them something to do. Pick up take-out for dinner, watch him so you can shower or nap, or hang out with you and ignore the baby fussing so you can remember what it’s like to have a social life.

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    1. Stephanie, thank you for the tips.

      I have a better time dismissing “the look,” than my wife. So, I just reassure her that, “THEY don’t understand.”

      We have hesitated getting a baby sitter due to our fear that the sitter wouldn’t provide the non-stop care that he needs. (We don’t have many close friends that we would trust him with). But, we know that we will have to take that step eventually.

      It’s good to find another parent that has gone through it. I hope your daughter is growing into a confident and sensitive child.

      I hope I can reach out to you when times are tough.

      Thanks,
      Robert

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      1. I’m always here and happy to chat. For the record, it does get easier soon. You’ll slowly be able to breathe as your son starts meeting milestones that create independence.

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  3. My first son was the baby you are describing – not exactly colicky but very fussy, screamed a lot, slept very poorly, would not self-soothe, wanted to nurse frequently, had no predictable schedule, took a very long time to sleep thru the night etc. I remember telling my husband out of extreme frustration that all I wanted was a happy baby, because my son was anything but happy! He didn’t want to be rocked, didn’t want to sleep, and to be honest, it was completely draining. No one I knew had a baby like mine, and it was very isolating at times. And our difficult, high needs baby then became a difficult, high needs toddler and preschooler. But over time (around the age of 5) , my son settled and matured, and now at the age of 7 is confident, outgoing, personable and so much easier to deal with (thank goodness!), although he still can be demanding, strong willed and overly emotional here and there. I am fairly convinced that these behaviors are not only a reflection of your baby’s innate temperament, but also the way you respond to your child. For myself, I was a first time mom with a child who had a completely different temperament than my more laid back one, and it was difficult for me to know how to handle him because of that. The best advice I received at that time was “this too shall pass.” Be patient and allow your baby the time to figure out how to self-soothe. Know that you cannot change his little personality, he is just figuring out how to deal with this new world. And as best as you can, tune out the criticism and little comments that your friends and family may throw your way. No one understands how difficult each day is unless they have raised a high needs child!

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    1. Kristie,

      Thanks for your testimony. Our boys have a lot in common and I hope my boy will grow into a confident and compassionate young man. But, for now, I just hope I can endure. 🙂 It’s great to hear from other parents that understand what we are going through. A big topic on the horizon for us is what type of caregiver we should find for him when my wife goes back to work. Can you give me any insight on what you thought and did when it came time for you to turn your son over to another person?

      Thanks again,

      Robert

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