What I Did with My High Needs Baby
Visitor's high need baby advice:
"I have a high needs baby" - it seems like an AAA meeting doesn't it...? 😉 The principle is the same: finding comfort in the idea that you are not alone. You aren't.
At 1 week old, my son would scream and cry for hours at a time (sometimes up to 4) before bed. I would hold him skin-to-skin, rock him, cuddle him, nurse him continually and nothing would soothe him.
Is it colics? Gas? Acid reflux?
We put him on antibiotics, I stopped drinking lactose and reduced my caffeine intake.
We saw a slight improvement, but nothing significant. He was always on the breast - so much so that he moved from the 50th percentile to the 95th percentile in terms of weight. My paediatrician told me to stop feeding him so often - "try to space it out to every two hours". This was easier said than done since nursing was his only source of comfort, but it was also giving him painful gas.
My son was our first baby so it was easy to blame ourselves. I'm just not cut out for this, I shouldn't have been a mother, my son hates me. And I would cry in a ball on the floor while my son was hauling in his bassinet. What was I doing wrong?!
I have a high-needs baby. Today, my son is almost 6 months old and he is still exhausting.
Here are some of the things we did with him to get through the last 6 months. While every child is unique and these might not work on your baby, I thought this might be useful to some:
- Follow a strict napping schedule. We started putting down our son for naps at intervals that would mimic his circadian sleep cycle. Babies should not be awake for more than 2 hours at a time. So 2 hours after waking, I would feed him and put him to bed with a lovie. At 5 months, he became very good at morning naps. Afternoon naps are still only 20 minutes-long, but we keep working on it!
- Change it up. My son would only allow us to put him down with a toy for about 10 minutes. So for the two hours when he's awake, I put him down on his tummy time mat, then play with him on the floor in his bumbo, then we do exercises, sometimes a bit of Jolly Jumper, sometimes a bit of exersaucer, 10-minutes worth of a Disney movie, etc. Get creative, keep moving.
- Get out of the house. It's so easy to get cabin fever when you have a high-needs baby. For your sanity, strap him up in his car seat (even when he screams), get the car going and head to the book store or the mall. Once there, I would have to take my son out of his car seat (otherwise, it would be the end of the world) but I would walk around with him in my arms and he would revel in the new environment and smile at strangers around him. One store clerk nicknamed him "Mr. Smiles" at one point. I could NOT believe it...!
- Get help. My husband was the best support system I could have had because our families were not very helpful. Having someone willing to remain positive through the cries will make you feel better. Try to fit in a 2 hour nap during your day or get out of the house for a quick drive. Pump up the volume and sign at the top of your lungs. It's truly therapeutic.
Whatever happens, remember that "this too shall pass".
Best of luck to all of you super-moms out there! 😊
GenPositive Parenting Ally's comments
Thank you, Gen, so much for sharing your story and your personal high need baby advice. It's really kind of you to take your time writing something so helpful and inspiring for others who might be in the same situation as yourself.
You're right, babies in general, and high need babies too, are all very different, so the more advice and inspiration out there, the better. In my experience, too, there is no norm, just whatever feels right and works with your baby.
Thank you for contributing, Birgitte (Positive-Parenting-Ally.com)