The High Need Baby: One Word – Draining

Never before in my life have I been this exhausted and tired. When Livi was born, she took all the energy I had and then cried for more. She never seemed satisfied or content. Some days, I truly thought I could not go on any longer – yet somehow I did.

In the beginning, it was a constant mix of nursing and holding her, walking and rocking, singing and shushing, and finally tiptoeing through the house, only to start all over again a few minutes later.

Which is how many new parents would describe their new lives. The difference for us was that Livi would cry and fuss, unless we held her. And that this was going to last longer than six weeks or three months or even six months…

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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.

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Do You Have A High Need Baby?

For the first six months of her life, we did not know why our little girl was crying so much. Was something wrong with her? Were we doing something wrong?

We tried a lot of different things. I am breastfeeding her and so I went on an elimination diet, cutting out dairy, soy, tomatoes, leafy greens, and more. We tried out bouncy chairs, baby carriers, car rides, long walks, music, white noise, other noise. We gave her infant gas drops and gripe water. Nothing seemed to do the trick.

We visited her pediatrician often, exhausted and worried. A few months after he birth, she was diagnosed with reflux and put on medication. Sometimes it seemed to help, most of the time it made no difference.

Finally, we found out that she might be a high need baby. But we had no idea what that meant or why she was this way. We needed to know. And even more importantly, we needed to find out how we could make things easier for her and for us.

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Why ‘High Needs’?

When our little girl was born, she only cried for a few seconds, until the nurse put her in my arms. It was the greatest feeling in the world to be able to calm her just by being there.

For the first two days she was a quiet baby, sleeping most of the time. We were high fiving each other for having such a peaceful child while all the other parents struggled with their crying newborns.

Then we went home and our baby went from being peaceful to crying almost every minute she was awake. We tried literally everything but nothing seemed to work.

Well meaning friends and relatives would tell us that things would get easier after 6 weeks…After 2 months had passed, they would say, it will be over by 3 months…After 5 months we were wondering whether things would ever get better and they would tell us that 6 months was the magical turning point.

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