The High Need Baby: Unbelievably Intense

To say that our little girl can be intense is quite an understatement. In fact, she is intense about everything she does. When she laughs, she really laughs. When she cries, she really, really cries. And when she wants something, there is no mistake about it, you will know. Not surprisingly, intensity is one of the first features Dr. Sears lists for high need babies.

When Livi was born, we learned right away that it was best to respond to her cries quickly, otherwise she would go into a complete meltdown.

When she was a newborn, her little body would get all tense, her hands would curl up into little, red fists, and her cries would turn so very shrill. Even if whatever upset her was taken care of, she would remain distressed and unsettled for a long time.

We would spent hours just holding her, preferably while walking. The second we’d try to put her down, she would start screaming again and get so agitated that we were afraid she might fall apart. She really only wanted to be in our arms all day long.

Other parents suggested putting her in the car seat and going for a ride or walk. The problem was that we couldn’t even get her into the car seat. She would simply scream and wiggle so much that we could barely hold on to her.

The one thing that really seemed to calm her was nursing. That’s when she would be the most peaceful and content. So I would nurse her – a lot. And she was just as intense about nursing as she was about everything else.

The first eight months of Livi’s life were some of the hardest months of my life. Some days she would cry so much and I was so exhausted, I couldn’t help but cry with her.

Now that she is almost one year old, she still gets upset easily, she still tenses up a lot, and she still has a hard time calming down. Many days are filled with drama and tears. But now her intensity also shows in her laughter, her curiosity, and her endless love for us. And for that I am grateful.

Is your baby intense as well? How do you notice it and what do you do to make it easier?

Flickr Photo by jessicafm

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6 comments on “The High Need Baby: Unbelievably Intense

  1. Deni Lyn says:

    We do not have a high needs baby, although by all accounts I was one myself so I was prepared for a rough go of it for a while! I think it wonderful that you have found some guidance via Dr. Sears and also that you recognize how wonderful her intensity can be when she’s happy too. Good luck! I’m looking forward to hearing how it goes.

    • hnmom says:

      Thank you for the encouragement. Dr. Sears’ articles completely changed my attitude. Maybe my posts will give others some hope too.

  2. So much of what you write about sounds familiar! My daughter didn’t meet all of Dr. Sears’ criteria for “high needs” babies, but some of them. She has two high-strung parents, so I don’t know what I was expecting!! For us, too, nursing was an incredibly powerful tool, and we just finished nursing at 17 months. I always like to remember what several moms in my mother’s generation have told me that their doctors hypothesized: “intense” babies are actually the brightest :)

    • hnmom says:

      Thank you and I hope that’s true. Of course, she seems very bright to us already.
      And congratulations on nursing for 17 months! That is a great accomplishment. I’d be very happy if we make it that far.

  3. Now that he’s bigger (age 3), it’s much easier to see my son’s intensity as him being “passionate” about things. I would much rather he show passion than apathy! That passion can be such a drain on parents though and in the early months there was no way I saw it as favorable a light, I was so incredibly exhausted. I remember sometimes the only way I could calm him was to nurse him and the only way I could get him calm enough to nurse was to stand and jounce him. So I’d be dead-tired jouncing up and down with a squalling baby on and off my breast while I sobbed along with him. Boy I’m glad that’s behind us! I’m glad you’ve moved into easier territory as well.

    • hnMom says:

      Yes, the first months, or year really, are the toughest, there is no question.
      I like how you see it as being passionate about something. Now that things are starting to get a little easier, I can appreciate that sentiment a little better.

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