I have a high needs baby, and that's one of the big reasons it's been so long since I've written. It's stressful. Some of you know exactly what I mean. Here are some of the signs you have a high needs child:
- No one gets consistent sleep
- It's nearly impossible to have a set routine
- People frequently say your baby is “so alert!” or “takes in everything!”
- Your baby is much more interested in adult things than baby toys
- Your baby nurses a lot – and may not sleep through the night until well after being a year old
- Your baby wants to be held and have face-to-face interaction constantly
- Your baby is slow to warm up to unfamiliar people
Dr. Sears wrote a book that talks about this kind of baby, and there is a list on his website which talks about many of the signs you can watch for in your baby.
It's difficult and exhausting to take care of my little one when she is so specific in her desires and notoriously difficult to distract or leave alone. She wants what she wants, and she cries until she gets it (or is convinced to accept something else). I myself thrive on routine, and she won't have it.
So I sit on my couch, holding and playing with my baby all day. It feels like she'll always be this way, and although I love her, I wish I had time to do things like shower, make supper, finish laundry in less than three days... I have to remind myself that one day it will be different. One day she'll be mobile and able to satiate her curiosity without my help (i.e. get into trouble), and she won't need Mommy to cuddle all day.
Another things that makes it difficult is that people who don't/didn't have high need babies don't understand that I'm doing things the way I am because that's what my baby needs – not because I haven't exhausted other ideas or done research to see what might work for our circumstances. High need babies don't fall for tricks and are too stubborn to sleep-train – annoying now, but imagine how those traits will be seen as advantageous for an adult!
Why are you here, reading my story? Perhaps you or someone you know has a high needs baby and some encouragement is needed. Maybe you want some tips! Here are some thoughts I hope will get you through this difficult time.
- It will be over, someday. Until it is, focus on the wonderful things – like bursting curiosity.
- Explore with your baby. Maybe this means going on walks, sitting in the grass, or playing with a new toy. It helps you to focus on what is special about your baby, and it's amusing to watch them soaking in their surroundings.
- If you are desperate to get something done, give your baby something new to play with. When your baby gets bored with it (probably in about five minutes) give him/her something else.
- If you're in the middle of something and your baby is screaming for your attention, put him/her right next to you – on the floor, in a chair, or carry – and interact as much as you can.
- Ask for company. When you're trapped on the couch, company does wonders for your emotional health.
- Have a regular babysitter. This can be difficult, but even if you only step out for an hour, with your husband, once a week, it will make a difference.
- Accept your circumstances. This is incredibly important, because you can't change your baby. Once you do that, you can research what other mothers have done and find new ways to enjoy your life as it is.