Having a high need baby can be overwhelming.
These are the babies who seem to hate sleep, never seem to be content, and require a LOT of patience from their parents.
They are intense and can easily push you to the edge of insanity. This post will provide 8 tips to stay sane with a high need baby!
1. Let go of your expectations.
This can be hard to do, especially if this is your first high need baby. Your situation might not be what you expected it would be. Your baby cries more, needs more, is more.
But, the moment you let go of what you think your baby should be, you will be able to embrace the beautiful moments you do have with your baby*.
*You may be thinking, “What beautiful moments??”. I understand! But even if there aren’t many, I bet there are some. Even if it’s only the few seconds they stop crying to give you a big kiss!
2. Don’t tell people you have a high need baby.
Unless a person has had firsthand experience with a high need child, they won’t know what this term means. And, many who do hear it, don’t believe it’s a real thing.
Stick to descriptive words whenever you’re talking about your baby. Words like “intense”, “sensitive” and “unpredictable” are easily understood and hard to argue with.
3. Do what works.
Don’t feel pressured to try to get your baby to conform to other people’s expectations. If your baby needs to be rocked to sleep to keep her from screaming, that’s ok.
If your baby will only stop crying when Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is playing on the TV, then put that tiger on and take a deep breath.
You are NOT a bad parent for doing what works for you and your baby. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
4. Join a community of parents who understand.
There are a lot of great groups out there for parents, both in your local community and online.
Check out meetup.com to see if there are local groups of parents of high need or “spirited” kids. Your local community services organization may also offer peer-to-peer support groups.
In terms of online resources, Facebook is a great place to start. It’s home to many groups where you can share your story and get support from other parents who are going through the same things you are.
Check out our groups, The Fussy Baby Site Support Group and High Need & Spirited Toddlers & Preschoolers group, for some much-needed support and understanding.
5. Build in time for sleep.
Many parents think that they need to do it all.
You are not a bad parent if you don’t get the dishes done or if you leave your baby with someone you trust for a few hours. If you can take a nap instead of cleaning the house, then by all means, do it.
Let your significant other take the baby for a night while you recharge in a hotel or at a friend’s house.
Make sure to rest your body. If you burn out, you are not doing anybody any good, especially your baby. Rest will do wonders for your energy as well as your perspective.
6. Try to let go of the “why’s”.
Why is my baby fussy?
Did I cause this?
It’s understandable to want to get to the root of the problem but don’t beat yourself up over it. If your doctor has cleared your baby of any underlying medical conditions, don’t keep searching for something you did wrong.
In surveys I’ve done, I’ve found no correlation between anything parents have done, and having a high need baby. This includes: the type of birth (C-section, vaginal, medicated and natural), taking antidepressants while pregnant and the amount of stress a mom endured while pregnant.
7. Have some faith in your baby.
I find that some parents of high need babies assume their kids aren’t capable of doing various things. But the reality is that high need babies are just a TYPE of baby. They are not entirely unlike other babies.
They are more persistent, more vocal, and more intense but they can do the same things as easier going babies can.
You may need to adjust your expectations, be more flexible and try more things to see what works for you and your baby. But remember: they are still babies and will do all the things babies do. They just may need to do things on their own terms!
8. Remember that you are the key to helping your high need baby thrive.
Easygoing babies/kids tend to respond well to almost every parenting style. However, research tells us that high need/spirited kids are disproportionately affected by parenting.
This means you have a lot of influence in how your sensitive little kiddos turn out! These kids tend to respond best to a warm, firm and flexible parenting style.
This means setting boundaries, while also acknowledging your child’s temperament. Working WITH your child’s temperament instead of against it.
Having a high need baby is NOT easy.
They’re intense, and emotional, and persistent (dare I say stubborn??), and can cause you to question every parenting decision you make.
Your friends may not understand what you’re going through and you may feel isolated and defeated.
But you are not alone.
Reach out and find some people who also have high need kids and who can empathize with you. Try not to be too tough on yourself if you don’t get to the dishes or need to leave for a night.
Follow your instincts and do what you need to do to get through the day, even if that means taking a shower while your baby sits in an exersaucer three feet away.
Take a deep breath; you’ve got this and you will be ok.
If you’re looking for more answers and guidance regarding your high need or fussy child, you might be interested in my new ebook, The Fussy Baby Survival Guide. It’s jam-packed with information, strategies, stories and the full results of two s
urveys I’ve done of parents of high need babies. It answers questions like:
- How do I know if my baby is colicky, high need, or something else entirely?
- Will my high need baby ever get easier? And if so, WHEN?
- Is “high need” a real thing? Is there any research to back it up?
- What are the most effective strategies for helping my high need baby sleep?
- How do I deal with my child’s INTENSE tantrums?