Playing With A High Need Baby

Livi has always been difficult to entertain and she always had a hard time playing by herself.

When she was only a few months old and couldn’t yet sit, it was impossible to just put her down in the bouncy chair or the car seat with a few dangling toys to keep her busy. She just didn’t roll like that and she let us know, loud and clear.

Likewise, she did not like playing on a play mat, looking at books, watching her mobile, sitting in a swing or bumbo seat or exercauser, or anything else that would mean not being held and entertained by daddy or mommy.

Later we learned that this is quite typical for high need babies. They have a difficult time being or playing by themselves and grave constant entertainment, attention, and human contact.

Due to her reflux, Livi also didn’t care for tummy time. Actually, she hated it with all her heart and made it known to the world. Any attempt to entice her with a toy failed.

And therein lies one of the problems. High need babies often don’t care much for toys. Of course, that didn’t stop us from trying. There are quite a few abandoned toys in the corner and we returned just as many to the store.

Livi liked playing with other things, however. And by playing I mean she liked putting them in her mouth or holding them in her hands while being held or entertained by us.

Still among her must haves are bibs, water bottles, and, her absolute favorite, rings – the linking kind you normally use to attach an actual toy to a stroller or car seat.

The problem with any of these was that she would just hold on to them but they wouldn’t keep her occupied.

So what do you do? Livi enjoyed being close to us. She also enjoyed watching us. For a while, we were able to use a baby carrier but it didn’t last for long.

After that we sat her in her bouncy chair, gave her two of her rings, and took her with us wherever we went in the house. This way, she could watch us and we talked to her and explained what we were doing.

It didn’t work all the time or every day or for very long, but at least we didn’t have to constantly hold her and she was occupied.

Once she got bigger and could sit up, it was time to get creative. She likes moving and sorting things, so we gave her a few small baskets to put her rings in (by now she had a huge collection). That was a big hit and she still likes to move her rings from one basket to another and back again.

She also likes to stack her books on top of each other. So we usually give her a number of books while we read to her.

The trick is to be creative until you find something that works. Unfortunately, what works one day, might not work the next, so you have to keep trying.

Now that Livi is older, there are actual toys she enjoys for a few minutes. However, her attention span is still very short and she does prefer and most of the time needs us to play with her. But now we also know that as long as she has a ring in each hand, she is much easier to please.

Do you have a hard time entertaining your child? Which toys or household items does your baby enjoy? And what have you tried to keep your baby entertained?

Flickr Photo by Mike Knell

11 comments on “Playing With A High Need Baby

  1. Deni Lyn says:

    Our son is really into sorting right now too. Wood blocks, containers, and a cupcake baking pan can keep him occupied while he watches me make dinner. It also gives us an opportunity to discuss colors, shapes, etc. Although this morning I watched him work diligently to open a lower cabinet door. I know people thought we were nuts for childproofing last spring before he even arrived but I’m so glad we don’t have to worry about it now. (Instead we can just laugh at his foiled attempts – Ha).

    • hnMom says:

      Yeah, sorting seems to be a big hit around this age.
      I envy you for having childproofed before you gave birth. That was very smart, I wish I had had the time to do that. Now it’s a work in progress with some areas still off limits.

      • Deni Lyn says:

        I can’t take credit for the premature kid proofing. That was my Husband’s bright idea. I hate when he’s right. LOL!

  2. merelymothers says:

    Ooh, my daughter loves sorting stuff, too! ALL DAY LONG!! One of our best purchases was this set of foam blocks (see that can be sorted by shape, color, and size. Sometimes she just transfers all 100 blocks from one container to another. She also obsessively builds towers. These things are the best!!

    I love being able to read that my own child’s “high needs” tendencies are not unique. You also have such a positive perspective on meeting your daughter’s needs, which I know can’t always be easy. We love reading your posts so much that we’ve decided to give you a Liebster Award!

    C heck out merelymothers tomorrow for all the details 🙂

    • hnMom says:

      It is good to hear that Livi isn’t the only one obsessed with sorting. 😉
      I am glad you enjoy reading my posts, it is so nice to hear. And thank you so, so much for the award. I don’t even know what to say…

  3. Wow, I wish this blog was around when my Little Girl was a baby, it would have been nice to know I wasn’t alone! My daughter is 3 now. I am pleased to say that, while she still wakes up twice a night unable to comfort herself, and never naps, some of the characteristics that made her a high-needs baby have made her a much easier preschooler. Since I was always talking to her and explaining things to her (to keep her happy, as you know!) she acquired a large vocabulary very quickly. The power of self-expression made her a little easier to deal with as she got older. She is still VERY sensitive (we don’t watch television, partly because of her high sensitivity to, well, everything), but she is now able to entertain herself. Being very active means that she is interested in lots of things. Once her imagination started to come into play, she easily slips into her imaginative world. Hang in there!

    • hnMom says:

      It is so nice to hear from you, thank you for leaving a comment. It’s also great to hear that you think my blog might be helpful to others; that is so encouraging.

      Thank you for letting me know how your daughter is doing now that she is older. It gives me hope and the confidence that we are on the right path.

  4. Tara L Andrews says:

    Appropriately enough the little girl in the picture was also pretty darn high needs – our story is chronicled here:

  5. nk330 says:

    My homemade toys are often more entertaining to my son than the toys I buy (or waste money on haha). Also my son seems very interested in sensory things. I’ve made a sensory box, sensory bottles, plus I try to come up with creative activities. It’s exhausting though. I feel like I’m constantly trying to find new ways to occupy his attention!

    • hnMom says:

      Homemade toys are definitely the best. Anything and everything you can find in the house that is save for a baby. I love the idea of a sensory box. Livi loves some of that though not all because she has some sensory processing issues. I know how exhausting it can be to keep them occupied, it still is with her. But in the long run it will pay off.

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