Dragons are born dragons…dragons* aren’t made.
Some babies are just born being more challenging than other babies. These are the babies that are often (though not always) difficult from day one.
Everything we thought we knew about parenting a newborn went out the window when we had our dragon baby.
We found ourselves living in survival mode, trying out every and any strategy and product that might help with the constant crying, fussing or whining.
Maybe we adopted an attachment parenting strategy to raising our dragon. Maybe this is something we always wanted, or maybe it’s simply the ONLY thing that worked. So we co-slept, wore, carried and basically gave every single piece of ourselves (and then some) to keep this tiny human from crying.
And people around us probably told us, “You need to let her self-soothe or she’ll never learn!”; “You’re spoiling her…she needs to learn that you won’t hold her 24/7!”.
Maybe we sleep trained, even though we swore we would never do it. And we did it not so much because we want to “foster independence” or “help our baby learn to self-soothe”, but because NOTHING ELSE BLOODY WORKED. It didn’t matter how much we bounced, fed or rocked, he would NOT sleep and we didn’t know what else to do.
And people around us probably told us, “Sleep is developmental!”; “She needs to learn that you’re there for her 24/7!”.
With dragons, we do what we need to do.
With easygoing “unicorn” babies, parents can use pretty much any strategy they want, and their baby will still probably sleep, be content, entertain him/herself, etc.
You’ll often hear these parents saying things like:
“She sleeps so well because we got her into a routine from day one”, and
“She can play with her toys by herself for 30 minutes because we’ve taught her that we won’t come the second she fusses”.
No, we’re not powerless to help shape our baby’s habits. But they are who they are, and to some extent we just need to accept that. Whatever parenting strategies we decide to use, we’re going to need to think about how to adapt those strategies to our dragon’s temperament.
So, how to raise a dragon baby?
Do what works. Don’t hold tight to a single parenting style or strategy. Be flexible, and lower your expectations. Know that while these babies certainly aren’t easy, they do become easy-er. Screw what everyone else says…all that bad advice is invariably coming fro people who haven’t had a dragon.
You’re not spoiling or ruining your baby. You’re doing the best you can, and that’s enough.
*The terms “dragons” and “unicorns” emerged in our Facebook group to describe high need babies and their more easygoing counterparts. Dragons are fire-breathing, intense little creatures and unicorns are those easier babies who seem to cry little, be more easily soothed, etc.
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