My daughter was easy, though she was my first she was low need in most aspects. On the other hand my son was a very high need baby in almost every aspect even when compared to women that had high need babies.
Sure all babies are exhausting. It is part of nurturing a newborn. Still, some are a bit more strenuous than just exhausting. There are children who demand more than others: more attention, more closeness, more time, to be carried. They seem to need a little more of everything – except for sleep. This is why they are also called high-need or 24-hour a day babies by some.
Like with most things related to children everything is a phase.
One thing that I feel when it comes to high need babies is that there just seems to be so many more of them now than many years ago when I was raising my children. Which brought me to ask the question: Are high need babies just a trend?
Many of the women now who have told me that their children are high need do not seem to know what high need actually is. Many of these babies would have been categorized as normal when I was young.
Some are ideal for beginners while others require a steeper learning curve for new parents.
What I would like to make very clear is that high need babies are completely normal, healthy children!
The term "high need" is not a medically recognized term, it does not contain a diagnosis. And it does not have the same negative connotation as "high maintenance" does. These are simply the personality traits of babies and children that demand a lot. The term "high need" was coined by the American pediatrician Dr. William Sears. The Illinois physician has eight children of his own. One of them: a child with great needs. He has created twelve points to help parents better assess whether their own child is a child with special needs:
- The baby cries intensely and loudly: High-need babies seem to cry louder and more intensely than babies of the same age. They demand intensive care – from their parents. But these children are also "intense" in all their beings and their emotions. The positive side: Even when they play, laugh and explore their surroundings, they do so with a lot of energy.
- The baby is hyperactive: These babies do not suffer from ADHD, but they are extremely active (mentally and physically) and restless little onea. Often they have a high muscle tone, their posture is tense.
- The baby requires its parents: High need babies demand their parents – and rob them of any energy. If their needs are not quickly met, they increase their displeasure and are even harder to satisfy.
- The baby wants to be fed constantly: High Need babies have a great need for suction. They love the closeness to mommy's chest, where they can not only satisfy their hunger, but also feel completely safe and cared for. According to Sears, these children allow themselves a lot of time while drinking to enjoy the closeness with mom for as long as possible.
- The baby is very demanding: these babies demand a lot from their parents: closeness, wearing, breastfeeding. And if they don't get what they want, they'll make it clear. Loud and clear. Patience and waiting are strange words for the high need baby. The positive aspect: Parents learn quickly to assess their baby and its needs in children with this personality. This will also be a great help in all the years to come!
- The baby wakes up all the time: sleeping and sleeping through – these babies don't have it at all. They fall asleep poorly, wake up frequently and need little sleep overall. This is due to the fact that they have fine antennae and perceive everything around them above average. It's best to fall asleep when mom or dad are with them.
- The baby is often dissatisfied: No matter what the parents do, the baby appears dissatisfied. The grueling challenge for parents every day is to find out what the baby wants and how to meet their needs.
- The baby is unpredictable in its behavior: With High Need babies, preferences change quickly: What was still a lot of fun yesterday leads to a lot of tears and shouting today. Parents struggle to adapt to their child's rapidly changing moods. The positive side of the strong mood swings is that these babies can also be in an extremely good mood.
- The baby is very sensitive: In these children, the irritant threshold is very low. The smallest noises are enough to disturb the delicate sleep. Otherwise, the baby is also very sensitive to his surroundings. These children don't like a foreign environment and people who don't know it.
- The baby cannot be put down: the baby does not like to be sat down! It is best to wear it without interruption.
- The baby can't calm itself down: Most babies learn to calm themselves down and fall asleep relatively early. High need babies find this difficult; they need the help of parents to calm down and fall sleep. In contrast to other babies, a music box or pacifier is usually not enough.
- The baby makes it clear that separations are difficult for them: separations from the parents are quite dramatic for these children. They alienate strongly and the acclimatization to the daycare often runs problematic.
What I have realized from others is that the experiences that parents make when they have a high need baby have is similar: they feel foreign-controlled because they don't get anything done on bad days save to take care of their demanding baby. They are constantly at the limit and feel isolated because they can only participate in social life to a limited extent.
Knowing that you have a high need baby makes life with it easier. While we didn't have the term when my son was born it was still evident. And they came with the same needs that they do now, and there were and are also plenty of tips you can use to help your baby (and thus the whole family).
You will learn a lot from one another and one thing is clear: life with a high need baby is guaranteed to not be boring! Dr. William Sears's consolation for concerned parents is: "It's a phase that will end." It is also a chance for your child to develop. For those of you who worry about how they will turn out, rest assured that they will be fine.
Our son turned out to be a wonderfully sweet considerate young man. Though that comes from his slightly biassed mother.