The Fussy Baby Site

What I Wish Doctors Knew About High Need Babies

high need baby at doctor

There is nothing ‘wrong’ with high need babies

One thing I hear from parents with some regularity is that their pediatrician or family physician has never heard the term ‘high need baby‘.

Although I don’t blame them for not knowing it, it does puzzle me. When something can account for all the ‘symptoms’ that are commonly mis-diagnosed as reflux, colic or a food intolerance, shouldn’t this be taught in medical school?

When a parent sees their doctor with reports of excessive crying or screaming and difficulties feeding and sleeping, most parents will hear things like:

“It’s just colic.”

“Let’s try him on some reflux meds to see if that helps.”

“Cut out all dairy from your diet to see if that helps.”

“You may not be making enough milk…try supplementing with formula.”

While excessive crying can certainly be a symptom of any of the above issues, in many cases, no physical cause can be found. It’s very rare I’ve heard from parents that their physician has suggested the possibility that ‘you may have a high need baby‘.

So, why does this bother me, you may be wondering? Well, I’ll tell you.

Too many parents suffer and struggle needlessly for months trying to find the root of their baby’s crying. They blame themselves, feel intense guilt and wonder why they can’t soothe their own child.

They are constantly plagued with questions of “Why don’t I know what’s wrong with my own child?”.

When in reality, many, many fussy babies are simply fussy because of their temperament. When it comes down to it, that’s what high need is all about – temperament.

I know that can be a tough pill to swallow…when your baby is really little and cries all the time, you desperately need to know it will end soon. Hearing this may be a temperament issue and not ‘colic’  – which ends at 3-4 months – can be extremely disheartening (to say the least).

But even in spite of that, I have heard from MANY parents (myself included) that finally reading a description of high need babies has been such an enormous relief.

When you look through the list of the 12 traits of high need babies and find yourself nodding your head to each and every one, you start to realize a few things:

  • My baby isn’t like this because of something  I did (or didn’t do)
  • This isn’t something I need to ‘fix’
  • There is nothing physically wrong with my child
  • I’m not the only one dealing with a baby like this

I’ve had parents say things to me like:

“I learned about high needs babies yesterday. Even though my baby is behaving exactly the same today, I feel so much better. I know I’m not doing anything wrong.”


“When I figured out my baby was high need, it was like a weight had been lifted. I thought I was doing something wrong, but now I know it’s just the way she is“. 

In some cases, physicians tell their patients to visit this site. When I hear from these parents, they’re SO thankful to their doctor. Once a medical cause has been ruled out, I think this is one of the biggest gifts a doctor can give parents: to say, “There’s nothing wrong with your baby, and there are many other parents dealing with the same thing.”

For more info on high need babies see my posts The Complete High Need Baby Resource Guide and Nothing’s Wrong, She’s Just a High Need Baby.

Did your doctor suggest you may have a high need baby? What can we do to help inform physicians about the high need temperament? Any and all ideas are welcome!!!


Image courtesy of  Tom & Katrien under CC 2.0

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